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WHITE NOISE

by YES! Staff

WHITE NOISE Media News & Reports

Ironies of immigration crackdown and detention

A dismal economy, a steady erosion of manufacturing jobs, a growing Latino population met by a rising tide of anti-immigrant resentment exploited by politicians looking for votes, and a scheme to bring in revenue by building new detention facilities. Burlington, NC? No, Central Falls, RI, a small city of 19,000 that is reportedly roughly 60 percent Latino and governed by the descendants of earlier immigrants. With immigrants — including some families where the father is undocumented, but the children are citizens — woven into the fabric of the community and local economy, but often invisible, the cost-benefit analysis can get complicated fast in both North Carolina and New England. “Few in this threadbare little mill town gave much thought to the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, the maximum-security jail beside the public ball fields at the edge of town,” Nina Bernstein writes in the Dec. 26 edition of The New York Times. “Even when it expanded and added barbed wire, Wyatt was just the backdrop for Little League games, its name stitched on the caps of the team it sponsored…. Then people began to disappear: the leader of a prayer group at St. Matthews Roman Catholic Church; the father of a second grader at the public charter school; a woman who mopped floors in a Providence courthouse.” The Times reports that Wyatt held 123 immigrant detainees until they were removed in December. Detention facilities in the Southeast that hold people suspected of immigration violations in the Mecklenburg County Jail in Charlotte, with 121 detainees; and Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Va., with 284 detainees. — JG

When the reporter becomes the story

It’s been said that to report effectively, you must know your subject thoroughly. National Public Radio senior correspondent Ketzel Levine began a news series in December about Americans coping with the economic downturn. At the time, she couldn’t have known that she would be the subject of the series’ final installment. Called “American Moxie: How We Get By,” the series profiled people like an Illinois farmer who loved tending to his cows, but was having to sell them. In an article published in The New York Times on Sunday, Levine said she was interested in looking at how Americans respond to adversity. Each person’s story was reportedly connected to the next in the series, but then came an unexpected ending. Midway through her reporting, Levine reportedly found out that she had been laid off as part of a 64-employee cut at NPR. Levine had worked at NPR since 1977, and she reportedly decided to make her situation the subject of her final report. Having the reporter become the story reportedly caused some hesitation for Ellen McDonnell, NPR director of morning programming. “I also recognized a very unique opportunity for Ketzel to tell a story that lots of people can relate to,” she reportedly said. Ketzel’s final piece reportedly ran Christmas week. “It’s only today that I’m sane enough to tell you” about her having been laid off, Levine reportedly told listeners. Levine said she has no idea what she will do next. “We’re always looking for the perfect ending,” she reportedly said. “And suddenly it was handed to me.” — KB

‘Unearned intimacy’ with Susan Stamberg

I’ve never been a particularly huge fan of Susan Stamberg, the broadcasting pioneer who has been with National Public Radio since its inception in 1971. An arts and culture enthusiast, she admits that she was never much of a “newsy,” so maybe that explains my bias. But as National Public Radio alum Bob Edwards highlighted on his XM satellite radio program on Sunday, Stamberg is a master interviewer. That’s because she listens well, and has remained a student throughout her long career. Photographer Richard Avedon breaks it down for her (and us) in this 1993 conversation. Avedon tells Stamberg that a photography shoot is much like an interview. “We don’t know each other,” he says. “You have your agenda; I have mine. You have the right to ask me anything you want; we’re the same person, Susan. We use people to express ourselves. There’s no question you can’t ask me in the next few minutes that I won’t have to respond to. The result will be the result of the two of us dealing with this unearned intimacy. If you came over to me at a party and asked me the kinds of questions you could ask me or are asking me now, I would either turn away, or ask you, ‘Are you an anchor lady?’ or ‘What is this?’ This is not a normal conversation, Susan. I don’t talk about myself. You don’t go around interviewing people, I hope, at dinner. You must understand me perfectly…. We both must have this feeling about other people.” —JG

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