Finding a new angle on a widely covered story

by November 23, 2011
Alabama immigration law, Americans won't take dirty jobs, Bloomberg Businessweek

This is an excerpt from the double-truck photo for Elizabeth’s Dwoskin’s report for Bloomberg Businessweek on the aftermath of Alabama’s immigration law. The worker fillets eight catfish a minute for $7.25 an hour.

Alabama’s new, tough immigration law has generated lots of headlines, but that didn’t deter Elizabeth Dwoskin of Bloomberg Businessweek from tackling the story.

“At first, you see that there’s been a plethora of news articles and you wonder if the issue has been covered,” she says. “But then you go there and start reporting, and you realize that those articles have only begun to scratch the surface.”

She headed to the farms and plants where owners say they can’t find workers for their low-paying jobs. She starts the story at a company in Alabama that is having a hard time attracting Americans to gut catfish for minimum wage after many of its Guatemalan workers left. Elizabeth writes:

“His ex-employees joined an exodus of thousands of immigrant field hands, hotel housekeepers, dishwashers, chicken plant employees, and construction workers who have fled Alabama for other states.”

Today’s tip: Don’t be daunted by going where other reporters have been. Find your own story to tell.

Elizabeth Dwoskin, reporter, Bloomberg Businessweek

Elizabeth Dwoskin

“Go to the belly of the beast and write your own story and ask your own questions,” she says. “There’s still a story there.”

Elizabeth says many reporters talked with farmers because the bill impacted their harvest workers. Curious whether other industries were affected, she called around the state.

In addition to finding businesses that lost immigrant workers, Elizabeth offers an interesting history lesson on how some jobs have come to be dominated by those workers.