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Transforming book research into articles on Florida’s sugar growers

Sugar subsidies Darren Brothers / Amy Green

Amy Green photographed lots of people as she researched sugar subsidies. Darren Brothers, 47, was a farm worker before being injured.

Amy Green used her book research on the Everglades and sugar growers to produce a Florida Center for Investigative Reporting article about the industry’s price support program and the politics involved in keeping it.

But turning a book project into an article isn’t easy. Amy says her first challenge was narrowing the information, which she’s been collecting since 2010.

“It’s an octopus of a story,” Amy says. “It’s so large and complicated, and there are many tentacles that put the industry into context.”

She says she narrowed her thesis and listened to her editor’s advice to include only relevant information to help readers understand the issues, she says.

Amy Green

A big part of that was showing Florida’s “Big Sugar” connection Washington, she says. The story relies on data from OpenSecrets.org to track political contributionsthe industry has made.

Even with all the information she had, Amy says she still worried about what the story lacked. She says she set up Google alerts so she could read everything published on subject.

“I was so afraid of what I didn’t know,” she says. “I researched as much as I had time for.”

Amy also produced a radio segment for Orlando’s NPR station where she works part time. She also used her photography skills to produce a picture slideshow.

She’s still organizing her book. She says she puts chapter titles onto flash cards to determine how to arrange the chapters. She says information in the article won’t be put directly into the book.

“Some of my voice was edited out of story because that’s the way it works,” she says. “I want to put own voice back into the story.”

In Agriculture, Career tips, Featured, Investigation.

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