How we reported on HIV/AIDS in Kenya
July 10, 2008 · Print This Article
Vickie Papageorge and Diana Vilares talk about the reporting they did about what Catholic Relief Services is doing in Kenya for orphans and vulnerable there.
Vickie and I wrote our story when Robert came to speak with our journalism class about Kenya’s state in relation to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and CRS’s efforts. We sat with pen, paper, tape recorder on and ears open.
We grabbed dinner with Robert after he spoke to our class and instead of going into the meal with a journalist’s attitude, we went in like “people.” He told us stories about his life in Kenya, his family and about children he’s met and lives CRS have changed with their services. The conversation was comfortable and realistic, which became the foundation for our story. That night, Vickie and I played back our audio and read over our notes about 50 times before we even came up with our opening paragraph.
We realized that what our story needed was a success story to bring some life into the matter. We wanted to show some proof while doing some humanitarian journalism. BUT, even though we had just finished a really great informative session with Robert, we were lacking one. What did we do? We called him. We called and we were upfront. We explained to him that in order for us to make this story worthwhile for readers, we were going to need a tale or two of people who’s lives were bettered by CRS’s efforts.
I can say that we got lucky when Robert walked through the door and was so personable and accommodating. He was like a reporter’s dream, because it’s not always so easy. Sometimes contacts don’t come through and you have to find other lifelines in order to finish in time and still promise quality work. It might sound a little crazy, but it’s doable.
My thoughts on Reporting:
** Researching is key. Before going into an interview with a source, Google their name (use Blackle.com), read up on their history so that you can not only impress them in conversation, but you might find yourself writing up a new set of questions that could be crucial for your story.**
Writing for a college audience is quite the task. On one hand you have a handful of people reading your work in hopes of catching a glimpse of a mistake or contradiction so they can quickly discredit your work. Then, there’s those that believe world issues belong on CNN and avoid the channel like the plague.
Students grab a newspaper on their way into class, sometimes just to have something to keep their mind occupied before (or during) class, and it is a student journalist’s job to give them something worth reading about.
So, how does a reporter do their job of finding out the “Who?, What?, Where?, When? and How?” and STILL manage to keep their readers’ attention span past the first paragraph?
Simple. Tell the story the way it’s meant to be told.
Sometimes the right quote that could totally piece together your story is staring you in the face and you don’t even know it until you’ve written a few drafts, but once you’ve found your angle and have at least 2-3 solid sources, you’re golden.
Children orphaned by AIDS create new lives
By: Vickie Papageorge and Diana Vilares
At the tender age of 8, Morris Chapa’s parents lost the battle to HIV/AIDS, leaving three young boys behind in their native country of Kenya. Their uncle, who was given primary custody of the boys, betrayed his nephews by stripping them of the property their parents had left and chased the boys away.
Left with a feeling of abandonment, the boys fled to their aunt’s home in hopes of receiving care. Shortly after, Morris, along with one of the younger brothers, were tested positive for HIV/AIDS.
“Support a wish of some boy in Nairobi” to finish college and “become a responsible citizen. The plan of that child is kind of like a dream that is dead.” This was the plea of Robert Makunu, a native of Kenya and the deputy HIV unit manager of the faith-based organization, Catholic Relief Services. “His parents are not alive because of HIV.” Makunu visited Cabrini College in preparation for Cabrini’s observance of World Aids Day on Dec. 1.
Kenya has 37 million people and 1.5 million are children orphaned because of AIDS. They have lost both parents due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that has been declared a national disaster in Kenya.