History was made yesterday. And, of course, Philadelphia appears to have played an important role in it. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris were projected winners of the election after securing a win in Pennsylvania, thanks, in part, to votes coming out of the city and its suburbs.
Also, we talked with Jesenia De Moya Correa, who reports on the Latino experience in the Philadelphia region, about her work.
Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with Jesenia De Moya Correa, who reports on the Latino experience in the Philadelphia region, exploring the complex transnational relationships between diasporic communities and Latinos born in the U.S. This recent story focuses on the diverse and growing number of Latino voters in Pennsylvania.
Can you describe what you report on a day-to-day basis?
I’ve been given the responsibility to balance and improve The Inquirer’s coverage for the Latino communities in our area. So, I report on things like the experience that Puerto Ricans might have that’s different from Mexicans in the Philadelphia region, or the aspects that Brazilian diasporas, Panamanian Americans, and U.S.-born Dominicans experience similarly. My daily work is to explore the complexity and the uniqueness of these local residents, who have ongoing relationships in Latin America and beyond, in all sectors of society: commerce, politics, education, health, the environment, religion, culture.
What drew you to become a journalist and to your coverage area?
I became a journalist because things might not be what you think they are, especially if you are only being told from a certain lens. When I started my journalism career in Dominican Republic in 2012, women were still limited from covering the so-called hard topics: the justice system, politics, science, the economy, sports. I wanted to report on the environment, the hard way, because I wanted to challenge people’s perception of their world and frame it from a woman’s perspective. When I returned to the United States in 2015, I learned that the conversation wasn’t only about gender, power, and class, but also about race. So, I understood that I needed to grasp what it meant to be part of this vast and very diverse population called “Latino communities” to be able to report on their health, science, and environment.
What is a story that you recently worked on that you’re particularly proud of?
I’d go back to July (which feels like a year ago) and look at the story we ran about how a set of recommended COVID-19 guidelines and a shortage of workers were disrupting the farming industry in South Jersey. It took me more than a month to get all the voices needed to explain how difficult it was to keep U.S. Americans fed while harvesting the crops with a smaller workforce than in regular seasons, keeping workers healthy, complying with vague safety guidelines, and how legislators could make things better or worse. There was a lot of energy devoted to gaining people’s trust, especially with Latinos who felt misunderstood and portrayed negatively around the spreading of the virus.
What are you keeping an eye out for? What trends are on the top of your mind?
I’m watching the trends in remittances and the shipment of goods that Philly Latinos are sending to Latin America and the Caribbean. I’m keeping an eye on the experience of Black and brown pregnant women in the times of COVID-19. I’m also interested in learning how Latinos have been dealing with sending a relative’s body to their homeland country for funerals and burials during this time. Please, keep me in your thoughts and prayers.
What’s something you wish more people better understood about your job?
I do journalism from the communities' standpoint, so I don’t respond to a general audience. I engage with a group of the Greater Philadelphia population that tells me what they need me to report on, who they need me to help hold to account, what guidance or information they need to keep their lives going. I do this work in more than one language and by being present in people’s daily lives, which tends to demand more time and energy.
What is something you learned through your reporting?
In Philadelphia, I’ve learned that Latino communities are very supportive of one another and have created their own support systems and networks to address the barriers, the needs, the limitations they deal with. I’ve learned that they hold power accountable themselves, here and in other countries, and pass that resilience and empowerment to younger generations.
What do you do for fun when you’re not working? Is there anything you’re looking forward to?
I dance salsa and merengue, literally, anywhere and everywhere. I play with my 7-year-old chihuahua-dachshund Tishla. I spend whatever time I have on the phone, talking with my mom and best friend. I look forward to surviving 2020, to growing back into my science reporting, to returning to Dominican Republic to report from the Caribbean soon enough.
A good reminder from @d_smoove. Thanks for sharing.
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“This was an absolute joy to see and a moment of positivity amongst the challenges of life today. Thank you for the coverage.” — scottyoung1, on Meet the star of that viral video of Philly voters dancing for joy: ‘They can’t break us down’.