Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Awards: The Lost Generation
The Lost Generation
This story was a joint project of Metropolis, a web startup founded by former Inquirer columnist Tom Ferrick, and Al Dia, Philadelphia’s Spanish-language weekly newspaper.
It was researched and written by Ferrick and re- ported by freelance reporter Gustavo Martinez and Ana Gamboa, a staff writer for Al Dia. Photos are by David Cruz of Al Dia.
Ferrick’s reporting ability helped Al Dia, which had less reporting capacity but published the stories as a cover package and followed up with editorials. Ferrick hired a Spanish-speaking freelance writer to help.
A few quotes from the report: “By almost any measure, Latinos lag behind other Philadelphians. Nearly 40 percent live in poverty (compared to a citywide rate of 25%); 40 percent of Latino adults never graduated from high school (compared to 19% citywide); only 10 percent have college degrees (compared to 22% citywide.)”
“Along with poverty comes a witch’s brew of problems: broken families, poor health, dependence on drugs and alcohol and a sometimes violent street culture that offers the lure of big money – if you are willing to sell drugs. As one Latino male who grew up in one of these neighborhoods put it: ‘Every male role model I had in my life was involved in something they were not supposed to be involved with.’”
The project profiled three Latino males in their late teens and early 20s working and living in Philadelphia.
One story quoted a man who, after leaving prison, was in a barbershop one day when he overheard some young men talking about those men they called ‘The Legends.’ He was startled to hear his name mentioned. “Here he was a man who took the wrong path, ended up in prison for murder, and these young men looked up to him as a role model?” the story said.
"By almost any measure, Latinos lag behind other Philadelphians. Nearly 40 percent live in poverty (compared to a citywide rate of 25%); 40 percent of Latino adults never gradu- ated from high school (compared to 19% city- wide); only 10 percent have college degrees (compared to 22% citywide)."
- Tom Ferrick, founder of Metropolis
“When I look back, I still feel guilty for certain decisions that I made,” said Edwin Desamour. “But I also got to accept that I was a product of my environment. I’m not justifying anything, but really just trying to understand it.”
Ferrick said the $5,000 award “was plenty” for the reporting part of these projects. “However, my original idea was to make the Latino male story a sophisticated graphic presentation that told the story in a lot of different ways. I approached a local web/graphic arts group ... and they said that $5,000 was far too little, given the work that they felt was needed. So, Latino ended up being strictly a linear piece on Metropolis.”
"I think it would be helpful if you were to offer supplemental grants to those who come up with a particularly ambitious project involving multimedia or a lot of additional web design. But I think the goal of the program was met: There was collaboration and stories that normally would not get done did get done.”
Order the Publication
Order a copy of Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Awards on Eventbrite.
Table of Contents
J-Flash, our e-newsletter, is packed full of information you need to know and learning opportunities.