Change Agents Newsletter: Meet Grace Del Vecchio!
January 17, 2023
MEET OUR NEW PRODUCER, GRACE!
(Photo by Emma Soto)
Grace Del Vecchio is an award-winning journalist originally from Philadelphia, based in Chicago. With a background in organizing and grassroots campaigns, Grace is currently a freelance reporter, producer and fact-checker known for creating stories that center community voices, with a focus on mental health, housing, policing and movements.
Along with producing the third season of Change Agents, Grace (who uses the pronoun “they) is a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau and a fact-checker for South Side Weekly. They are also the former editor-in-chief of DePaul University's student-led online publication, 14 East Magazine — which was named one of the top online collegiate news/magazine sites in the country by the Associated College Press Pacemaker competition.
In 2022, they graduated from DePaul University with Bachelor's degrees in journalism and geography (with a concentration in urban planning and development) with a minor in Spanish.
Grace spoke about what it meant to them to work on their episode:
Why did you want to work with Change Agents?
In the past year, I’ve found I really like production work. So a goal of mine was to end the year with a new audio project under my belt and I’m grateful that this project allowed me to accomplish just that.
It’s also very important to me that I work with people and organizations with whom I have shared ethics and I felt confident that Juneteenth Productions was one of those organizations.
What additional skills are you developing/sharpening through Change Agents?
On the technical side, I learned a lot more about what goes into the audio editing process and important things to keep in mind when recording audio to ensure that it is of the best quality possible.
On the interpersonal side, I learned more about the importance of clinical support when reporting on stories rooted in trauma. Some of these interviews required my sources to talk about very traumatic events and having the presence of a trained social worker who knew these sources well was comforting and reassuring. All too often, journalists have to double as reporters and therapists — which we’re really not qualified to be. Having someone who is a qualified mental health professional be a part of these interviews helps ensure the safety and comfort of our sources and ourselves.
The Change Agents process is about working on stories inside/out and making relationships/connections with the community organizations. How are your efforts part of the Change Agents process?
Sometimes the most important reporting happens off the record.
While this may be somewhat contradictory, it’s a statement I live by as a reporter. This story dealt with some very challenging themes and it was so important to me to honor the family whose story was at the center of the episode. For me, this looked like, meeting with the family without a recorder and without a notebook to ensure that this was something they really wanted to do. This also looked like calling up my community partner, Edwin Martinez to seek guidance from someone who knew the family well and also understood their experience.
This also looked like doing a lot of research and just speaking to people who knew a lot more about the topic and experiences of my sources than I did.
What is a fun fact or two about yourself that you do not mind sharing?
Something that I consider a fun fact about myself is that I drive a manual car (unfortunately there aren’t that many in the U.S. anymore).
I was born and raised in Philly and moved to Chicago when I was 18. Most people don’t consider this a fun fact but both cities have played major roles in who I am and I’m proud to be able to claim them.
What was a light bulb moment while producing your story for Change Agents?
This story required that I learn a lot about very difficult bureaucratic processes in order to better understand some of the challenges families of victims face in trying to get the resources to which they are entitled. I learned a lot about the U Visa process as well as the Victims Compensation Act – two things I knew very little about before producing this podcast.
Follow Grace on Twitter: @delvecchiograce
(Photo by Al Rasho)
A Word From The Executive Producers:
Trust between journalists and community builders is the cornerstone of Change Agent’s reporting. It can be found in our intentionality when it comes to language, story participants are addressed as partners or collaborators. Our season starts out with a 4-day intensive orientation process that brings together journalists and collaborators for trust building exercises and to develop stories that community partners can feel confident accurately reflect their realities.
This trust building continues when the reporting starts. The process begins with a meeting that involves NO recorders, it’s simply a chance for the reporter to get to know the participant in their own space. This allows the story partners a sense of security that they are being heard when the interviewing does start. Throughout the storytelling process reporters are touching base with their collaborators to fact check and discuss how their story is developing. Building this trust works both ways, when it is formed and maintained it enables Change Agents producers to gather the type of truthful and personal content that ensures powerful storytelling.
- Judith McCray & Maurice Bisaillon
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