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Fresno CA news collaborative investigates coronavirus impact

The Central Valley News Collaborative includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, Valley Public Radio and Radio Bilingüe. The initiative is supported by the Central Valley Community Foundation, with technology and training support by Microsoft Corp.

The Central Valley News Collaborative includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, Valley Public Radio and Radio Bilingüe. The initiative is supported by the Central Valley Community Foundation, with technology and training support by Microsoft Corp.

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This story is part of the Central Valley News Collaborative, which is supported by the Central Valley Community Foundation with technology and training support by Microsoft Corp.

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a new bilingual reporting collaborative in Fresno.

The Central Valley News Collaborative includes The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, Valley Public Radio and Radio Bilingüe. It is supported by the Central Valley Community Foundation with technology and training support by Microsoft Corp.

Through the project, we will shine a light on how the Central Valley’s communities of color have been disproportionately impacted, physically and financially, by COVID-19. We’ll examine the immediate and entrenched issues that have contributed to these disparities, and the people and policies working to fix them.

We’ll introduce you to essential workers who have labored through the pandemic, and families that lost their incomes and have struggled to make ends meet. We’ll take you into the Valley’s fields and rural areas, with the goal of fostering a deeper understanding of the daily realities of many residents of the region.

As the nation inches toward the end of the pandemic, we’ll assess the fallout of this crisis and identify barriers to healing and recovery in the region’s more disadvantaged communities.

“Each of the local news organizations in this collaborative have audiences that together form a powerful critical mass,” said Fresno Bee Executive Editor Joe Kieta. “We’re excited about the opportunity to tell stories in new ways and to build trust in communities that helps lead to better, more informed journalism.”

Want to know how you can get involved in this initiative? We’re holding a virtual launch event at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 14. This is an opportunity for journalists from the four participating outlets to introduce themselves and for you to let us know what questions you have about our project or the pandemic. The event is free, and you can RSVP here.

How will the collaboration work?

We’ll feature work produced through the collaboration in print, online and on the airwaves, both in English and Spanish, and report more stories based on what our partners hear from their audience.

Behind the scenes, we’ll share story ideas and resources. You’ll read stories in The Bee by Nadia Lopez, who covers Latino communities as a Report for America corps member, and hear stories on KVPR by Madi Bolaños, who covers immigration and underserved communities for the public radio station, as well as work by other journalists at the participating outlets.

You’ll hear the journalists discussing their work in English on KVPR and in Spanish on Radio Bilingüe. Their stories will be available in Spanish on the websites of Vida en el Valle and Radio Bilingüe. And stories that people share during call-in segments on Radio Bilingüe’s Spanish-language shows will inform our future reporting.

All of this, we hope, will strengthen connections between our local newsrooms and across our community, and amplify the voices of community members who have been sickened with COVID-19 at disproportionate rates and are now getting inoculated at lower rates than white residents in the community.

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A volunteer checks the temperature of a farmworker during a COVID-19 vaccination event near Parlier on Feb. 4. BRYAN PATRICK Special to Vida en el Valle

“It’s widely reported that the coronavirus pandemic is causing what scientists call a ‘historic decimation’ of Latino communities,” said Samuel Orozco, national news and information director for Radio Bilingüe. “Latinos in the Valley, and especially those in the food and farm industry, are the hardest hit by the virus and at the same time the most uninsured and the most hesitant to seek emergency aid.”

“To address this crisis, there is a critical need to help involve Latinos, especially the new immigrants, in the public conversation in an effort to provide them with timely news on COVID developments, and help dispel misperceptions about COVID testing, treatments, and vaccines,” he continued. The collaborative, he added, “promises to create a new platform to amplify the voices and the stories from the communities of essential workers.”

What questions do you have about the pandemic?

This collaboration comes at a critical time for the Central Valley. The pandemic has exacerbated deep-seated regional and nationwide disparities in health, housing, economics and more. Local journalists have been digging into these critical issues, but our ability to give them their due attention has been hampered by staffing resources as well as a growing mistrust of media and newsrooms’ challenges to accurately reflect the communities they cover.

“The project gives us all a chance to work together and expand our reach in print and radio, and also to rely on each other for sources, resources and story ideas,” said Valley Public Radio news director Alice Daniel. “In our newsroom, we have three reporters. It means we have the ability to cover some things really well but we don’t have the ability to cover everything well. The collaboration means we can increase our coverage and better inform our listeners with stories that matter.”

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Fresno State nursing student Monique Lange administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination shot to Ricardo Andrade of Reedley during a Fresno County rural vaccine clinic at Orange Cove High School on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. CRAIG KOHLRUSS Fresno Bee file

Microsoft is also supporting similar collaborations in the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez cross-border region and the Wisconsin cities of Green Bay and Appleton, as well as Yakima, Washington, and Jackson, Mississippi.

We want this project to be reflective of the experiences and concerns of the community. Please fill out the short survey below to let us know what you want to know about the pandemic’s impact on communities of color and how we can best bring those stories to you.

You can also reach out to me directly. Previously a reporter for Vida en el Valle and Valley Public Radio and most recently the immigration reporter for The Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs, I’m thrilled to be am now working as an editor at The Bee and overseeing this collaboration. You can reach me at rplevin@fresnobee.com or @rebeccaplevin on Twitter.

We want to hear from you: Can’t see our survey? Click here to view it.

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