AJC adds Report for America staffers to cover immigrant communities

At a pivotal point in Georgia’s history, where a pandemic, economic uncertainty and a reckoning on race are having an outsized impact on the state’s immigrant and international populations, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is beefing up its efforts to cover those communities.

As part of the Report for America program, the AJC has chosen two journalists — Paradise Afshar and Lautaro Grinspan — each with deep experience covering immigrant populations, to join the staff starting in June.

Launched in 2017, Report for America is a growing national service program that arranges for emerging journalists to work in local newsrooms to report on undercovered topics and communities. For the first time, this year Report for America is piloting an “experienced corps” with 11 mid-to-late career journalists who will provide editorial support in their newsrooms. Afshar and Grinspan are two of some 300 journalists who have been placed in the 2021 reporting corps across more than 200 American newsrooms.

“We’re thrilled to be a partner with Report for America,” said AJC Editor Kevin G. Riley. “We look forward to welcoming these journalists to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”

Afshar and Grinspan will be assigned to cover Atlanta’s rapidly growing and influential immigrant communities. Last month’s spa shootings, where eight people were killed, including six Asian women, reinforced the need for diversity and inclusion in American newsrooms.

“The crisis in our democracy, disinformation and polarization, is in many ways a result of the collapse of local news,” said Steven Waldman, co-founder and president of Report for America. “We have a unique opportunity to reverse this decline by filling newsrooms with talented journalists who not only view journalism as a public service, but who can make trusted connections with the communities they serve.”

Afshar comes to the AJC with a wealth of experience both in print and broadcast journalism. Most recently, she was a producer for Fox News, before working as a digital producer for WPLG-ABC in South Florida.

Prior to that, she spent five years writing race and religion-centered stories focusing on South Florida’s Asian and North African communities as a freelance writer for the Miami Herald.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Afshar, who was born in Iran, is a graduate of Florida International University and has a master’s degree in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Studies from King’s College London.

“I want to get to know a new community and report stories that matter for the people who live in it,” said Afshar, who is fluent in English and Farsi and currently lives in Cumming. “For a lot of minority communities, it is not like the effort isn’t there, but the resources aren’t. ... To be an extra body to be able to get out and report these stories makes a difference. It not only benefits the communities, but Atlanta as a whole.”

Grinspan is a Report for America veteran. Since 2019, he has been in the program reporting in Spanish and English for the Miami Herald and its Spanish-language sister paper, El Nuevo Herald about how the economy, COVID-19 and the 2020 election impacted South Florida’s immigrant communities.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Grinspan, a graduate of Northeastern University, grew up in Argentina and France. He has spent six years studying Mandarin Chinese, but is fluent in English, Spanish and French.

“I am looking forward to taking on the challenge of writing about different communities and finding ways to tell stories that were not told before,” Grinspan said. “It is important because it helps tell the story about how this country is changing and how the people leading those changes are contributing to these communities.”

Eight Report for America journalists will be working with Georgia newsrooms beginning in June. Read more about them and their work at The Atlanta Voice, the Athens Banner-Herald, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and The Plug.

How you can help

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Report for America are partnering to raise the funds to place multilingual journalists on the staff in The AJC newsroom to improve our coverage of local immigrant communities. We hope you’ll help us by donating to this initiative. Visit ReportForAmerica.org to learn more.

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