How do you cover a story that is emotionally hard — for you, your newsroom or your community? How do you produce work with nuance and sensitivity when the story is close to home — and close to your heart? As we grapple with topics that make us uncomfortable and challenge our readers, how do we gain editor and community buy-in and face the difficult facts? A panel of experts will discuss the ways that they’ve told the tough stories, from covering violent, targeted attacks on people like them to covering government misdeeds, and how you can tell your own tough stories.
Moderator: Sarah Blazucki
Panelists: Valerie Boyd, Rafael Carranza, Peter Daut, Mira Lowe
SARAH BLAZUCKI is the communications coordinator for a federal agency in Washington, D.C., where manages and edits publications, web content, responses to information requests, marketing and social media. Prior to her current position, Blazucki was the agency editor at the Peace Corps. There, she supported external communications across publications, marketing, public affairs and congressional relations. Previously, Blazucki was the editor of the Philadelphia Gay News, where she led staff to win more than 20 awards. She also has more than 15 years’ experience as a freelance résumé writer. In addition, Blazucki has edited a range of print and online publications, including books, magazines, newspapers, reports, press releases, web and social media content and marketing materials. She serves on several boards, including NLGJA, Unity: Journalists for Diversity and Youth Pride Alliance. Blazucki received her B.A. in mass communications, with a minor in women’s studies from Towson State University. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her lovely wife, Lisa, and their cute-but-sometimes-evil cat, Gloria Geraldine.
VALERIE BOYD is author of the critically acclaimed biography Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston, winner of the Southern Book Award and the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award. Wrapped in Rainbows was hailed by Alice Walker as “magnificent” and “extraordinary”; by the Boston Globe as “elegant and exhilarating”; and by the Denver Post as “a rich, rich read.” Formerly arts editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boyd has written articles, essays and reviews for such publications as The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Creative Nonfiction, The Oxford American, Paste, Ms., Essence, and Atlanta Magazine. She is a professor of journalism and the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, where she founded and directs the low-residency MFA Program in Narrative Nonfiction. Boyd is currently curating and editing a collection of Alice Walker’s personal journals, which span more than 50 years. Simon & Schuster/37 Ink will publish Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker in 2019.
RAFAEL CARRANZA covers the U.S.-Mexico border for The Arizona Republic and the USA Today Network. He has been reporting on borderlands and Latino communities in the United States for nearly nine years. Rafael has written extensively about President Donald Trump’s stricter immigration enforcement and plans to strengthen border security. He collaborated in the 2018 Pulitzer Award-winning project “The Wall,” which examined unintended consequences of building a border wall and impacts on local communities. Prior to joining The Republic, Rafael worked as a foreign correspondent in Rome, covering the Pope and the Vatican. There, he covered the papal enclave that resulted in the election of Pope Francis, as well as issues like the child abuse scandal and shifting attitudes towards LGBT people within the Catholic Church.
Multi-Emmy-Award-winning journalist PETER DAUT joined CBS2 and KCAL9 as a weekend anchor and reporter in September 2014. During his tenure in Los Angeles, Daut has served as the lead reporter on several major stories, including the Pulse nightclub shooting massacre in Orlando. Prior to joining CBS2 and KCAL9, Daut was a morning anchor and investigative reporter at WSOC-TV in Charlotte. Daut also worked at KDFW-TV in Dallas, where he won an Emmy for his report on the shooting massacre at Fort Hood. Daut graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California, where he received dual degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. Born in Torrance, and having grown up in Placentia, Daut always dreamed of covering the news in Southern California. When he’s not working, Daut enjoys spending time with his family, working out and cheering on the USC Trojans.
MIRA LOWE is director of the Innovation News Center (INC), a public media newsroom serving 19 North Central Florida counties where student journalists produce content for multiple media platforms, including WUFT-TV, WUFT-FM, ESPN 95.3, WRUF-FM, WRUF-TV, WUFT.org and Noticias WUFT. Prior to joining UF, Lowe was a senior editor at CNN Digital in Atlanta where she managed the planning, execution and programming of various special projects across a global portfolio. She previously led the Features team, overseeing the entertainment, lifestyle, tech, travel and heath sections for domestic CNN.com and mobile.