Bringing community into the Daily WRAG

By Kendra Allen
Daily WRAG Editor

The Daily WRAG is excited to share a new program that we hope will provide another avenue for our audience to hear the authentic voices of community members.

The first time I thought about the impact of other people telling my story, it was my third year of high school. On the first day of school, I was introduced to my new English teacher and a reporter from the Washington Post. I didn’t think much of it at the time besides wondering why they would be interested in our school.  I had experienced local news covering my community and the neighborhoods where my family lived, almost always crime-related articles, but this was the first time they were discussing my education.

The article, published a few weeks later, featured three different high schools in DC, mine: Coolidge High School, and two others I can’t remember. When it first came out, I was only slightly annoyed at how they portrayed us, you know the usual stereotypes that people associate with schools with a large population of Black and brown students.

It wasn’t until I had decided to start applying to colleges that I thought about the impact of that news story on me and the rest of my classmates. DC Public Schools already had a bad reputation. What effect would that story have on a college admissions staff looking at my application? Would they think my standing in my class was unearned?

As a communications professional, I always keep this perspective in mind. When I began this job in 2016, one of my goals was to uplift the stories and experiences of those who are often unthought of but who most feel the brunt of the inequities that exist in this region. I’ve intentionally put in more stories on racial equity, immigration, returning citizens, LGBTQIA+ issues and others, but I know that I’m not being as representative as I would like to be.

A few months ago, I attended the Mission Partners’ Design Lab, where I was able to talk through an idea of having community members that philanthropic leaders may not necessarily hear from or interact with use this platform to tell their stories. The people that I had in mine were communities of color who are low-income in this region, as stories are frequently told about them, but the stories are rarely from their own perspectives.

I initially wanted to get the perspective of youth and adults in this population but we (at WRAG) thought it would make sense to start with youth first. So I have spent the last couple of months looking for organizations that work with youth of color who are interested in journalism or writing in general.

Three organizations will partner with us initially on this program: In Reach, Inc, Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts and Shout Mouse Press. I’m happy to announce that the WRAG Journalism Fellows, has officially launched!

The details of the program include:

  • Each organization will select one student this year and next year to write about their experience in their community
  • Once the blog is published, the student will be compensated for their work
  • The Daily WRAG Editor will be a resource to the students

The first blog will be published this month. Stay tuned!