KPCC/LAist passed our cameras to 12 parents of young children across Southern California to document their lives. The Parenting, Unfiltered project illustrated that parenting is messy, chaotic, and beautiful , despite the twists and turns 2020 has thrown parents’ way. Over the course of a year, the project captured the challenges and joys of raising young children during a pandemic, shaped our reporting and supported community members to tell their own stories.
To convene a diverse cohort of parents, we reached out to parents outside of our existing networks (i.e. social media, on-air broadcasts), collaborating with early childhood stakeholders and organizations to get out the word. We lowered potential barriers to the parent involvement: We provided child care, snacks, rides and interpreters at all of our in-person meetings, which were held at a local library on Saturday mornings.
KPCC/LAist visual journalist Chava Sanchez trained parents on how to shoot with the point-and-shoot film cameras to give the project a spontaneous and nostalgic feel. Getting to keep the photos as keepsakes was also an added bonus for the parents. After shooting, we convened parents to surface themes that would help us curate photos for the project. Many were surprised at how much of their own lives they saw in others’ photos, an antidote to the shiny, perfect image of parenting that blogs and social media often portray.
Engagement producer Stefanie Ritoper and reporter Mariana Dale met individually with each parent for an audio interview so parents could walk us through their photography.
When the pandemic hit, parents agreed to continue taking photos, this time on their phones. We created a Facebook group for people to share their photos. We began to see parents commenting on each other’s photos, asking questions, and offering ideas for activities. They got to know each other better, and were reassured that they were not alone in their parenting struggles.
The website and digital galleries were curated so that each parent’s gallery told their story through the course of their photos, staying true to the spirit of the project.
Newsrooms have historically failed to effectively and responsibly center the voices of traditionally marginalized communities, especially those of people who are Black, Indigenous, of Color, LGBTQ+, or live with disabilities. We saw an opportunity to leverage our storytelling and convening power to make up some of that ground.
We invited parents to join an open-ended creative project, and by doing so, tackled several overlapping goals. We earned more about the challenges and priorities in the world of early childhood, a beat we have covered for 9 years. We strengthened our relationships with parents, caregivers, and educators, placing an emphasis on racial, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity. We used our megaphone to curate and present informative content that would spark dialogue about early childhood.