Maine Public News Connect is a pilot project for Maine Public and is a response to a direct need in immigrant communities across Maine for news and information to keep their members better informed about what is going on in Maine and the world around them. It is a “big lift” project that has pushed our expertise and resources. Connect is an initiative that fulfills the weighty promise of public media being available to all.
New Mainers have different levels of access to reliable information about what is taking place in the immediate world around them — whether they be pressing public health issues, school closures, or any variety of important news. This has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 crisis. While Maine Public provides valuable and relevant content on multiple, highly accessible platforms, we do so in a single language.
Connect is an opportunity to make Maine more inclusive, stronger, and more cohesive by delivering content in the four most commonly spoken languages in Maine, after English: French, Spanish Portuguese, and Somali.
Where did we start? We reached out to community partners with dozens of questions. What languages would have the greatest reach and impact? What news stories would be of interest? How might new Mainers best access this content? Our community partner circle grew and grew and proved invaluable in helping us craft a framework for the project. The Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, PresentMaine, Gateway Community Services Maine, and the Congolese and Angolan communities of Maine were especially insightful. Their input helped us identify the languages to offer, the content that we share each week, the communication vehicle — video — to produce, and the platforms to share out the content (Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube, and others).
We formed an internal team to own the project. Between our news, television production, and marketing teams, we built a group with the mandate to produce high quality weekly videos to start eliminating the language barriers many are facing.
We then needed to build our translation team. We wanted to bring on community members themselves to ensure that the content we were developing was genuine and relevant. And through a lengthy search process, we found a team of translators who had the passion for the work and embraced the mission of the project.