Change Agents Newsletter: Meet Wendy Wei!

December 5, 2022


(Photo by Emma Soto)

Wendy is an independent journalist in Chicago, where she focuses on international migration, diaspora, and social movements. By day she is a production coordinator for a VFX/VR studio. In a past life, she was a comparative politics PhD student and evaluation specialist working with forcibly displaced populations in the North and the Horn of Africa.

Wendy is passionate about elevating the voices of those most impacted by crisis to tell their own stories. She channeled this passion into designing digital training programs for displaced artists in the Middle East to expand their network beyond the borders that restrict them, and serving on the board of ArtWorks Projects, whose mission is to use the visual arts to raise awareness about human rights issues. 

Wendy shared her inspiration for this project in her own words in response to a few questions:

- Why do you want to cover this story for Change Agents?

Anti-blackness is something I witness often in my Asian American community, and is a topic that we must tackle as people of color in order to build solidarity. Besides People Matter, I have not come across many (if any) organization that is dedicated to addressing and tackling anti-Blackness in communities of color. I wanted to share the knowledge that Consuela Hendricks built over a decade in facilitating cross-racial dialogue with others who are lost on how to effectively have these difficult conversations.

- What additional skills are you developing/sharpening through Change Agents?

I gained experience in actually conducting these interviews and editing the podcast. I realized how much power I had in shaping the message by cutting and rearranging the structure of my interview quotes, etc. The workshop made me pay attention to how transitions, framing and time allotted to each speaker shape the whole message of the story. I will think more critically about the effects of these creative choices.

- How are your efforts part of the Change Agents process? The Change Agents process is about working on stories inside/out and making relationships/connections with the community organizations

I think the foundation of getting honest answers to uncomfortable questions is trust, which is built before the record button is pressed. Change Agents prioritized building trust between the journalist and the community partner from the very beginning. This includes demonstrating to the interviewee that you have done your research, that you care about their input and that you are a reputable guide to them in understanding where their words/voice will be published. The workshop helped set up this expectation and the production experience proved to me that it does make a huge difference.

- What was a light bulb moment while producing your story for Change Agents?

Community buy-in is invaluable to getting honest and insightful interviews. The partners understand their community and streamlined the work of identifying who may be a good interviewer. They pointed out many great paths to explore for a well-rounded, in-depth story - such as historical context, people, etc.

Fun Fact About Wendy

- She's open to listening to all genres of music.
- She recently started to learn how to skateboard. 

Follow her on Twitter: @thewendyway.

Wendy interviewed Consuela Hendricks, co-founder and co-president of People Matter, a Chicago based NGO, to learn more about the organization's latest initiative. To learn more about People Matter visit their Instagram page. (Photo by Angela Lin) 

(Photo by Al Rasho)

A Word From The Executive Producers:

Reporting with accuracy and sensitivity on any story takes time and access.  Something in short supply for journalists facing deadlines and limited resources. The reality can lead to missed perspectives from the people most impacted by the coverage.  It’s a bind that often leads to extractive journalism, creating distrust within communities, especially those of color with a history of being ignored or patronized.
At Change Agents, we’ve set out to break this cycle by laying the groundwork to build trusting relationships before the storytelling process begins. Through community engagement we’re building a beat that includes grassroots organizations with deep community ties. It’s through their guidance that we find primary sources who authentically represent the neighborhoods where they live, work and raise families.  That same guidance helps our journalists identify the best people to interview, the right events to cover and the storylines that most authentically reflect the perspectives of those involved – ensuring that each story is balanced and authentic.

- Judith McCray & Maurice Bisaillon

Giving Tuesday 

We appreciate your interest in Change Agents and welcome your support in producing more stories of grassroots activism and social change. You can make a donation by selecting the DONATE button in the top right hand corner of our website OR click the following link to go directly to the page:

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