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Finding America Team Corner: “I plan to use journalism to make a significant difference”

Localore: Finding America project Every ZIP in Philadelphia intern, Avory BrookinsIn this occasional Finding America Team Corner, we’re introducing talent from the 15 Finding America productions. This Q+A has been lightly edited for space and clarity.

Avory Brookins is an intern for Localore: Finding America project Every ZIP Philadelphia. In August, Brookins will start at Wisconsin Public Radio as the Lee Ester News Fellow.

Every ZIP Philadelphia at WHYY is a community-based project creating a portrait of Philadelphia through the stories that people tell about their lives. Through written and verbal stories, photos, and events, Every ZIP wants to give Philadelphia residents a chance to see and hear each other in new ways; to expand the definition of what it means to be a Philadelphian and deepen connections with neighbors in the City of Brotherly Love. Every ZIP Philadelphia is led by independent producer Alex Lewis in collaboration with WHYY’s Coordinating Producer/Editor for Community Media Jeanette Woods.

Have you had a favorite moment while working on Every ZIP?

Women in the community performing the double dutch at Philly Girls Jump event

My favorite moment was hearing the final product of a story I did on a double dutch event called Philly Girls Jump. I had 35 pages of transcription and needed to put together a non-narrated piece. I was so overwhelmed and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to put together a good enough story. But in the end, the story was great. I was able to pull the best cuts from my interviews, weave in great nat sound, and have a cohesive story. It was a huge accomplishment for me.

What have you learned while working on Every ZIP?

I’ve learned how to edit using Hindenburg, how to write a better radio script, how to track script appropriately, what makes a good pitch, and I improved on my interviewing skills.

How does Every ZIP reflect your American experience?

By showing the other side of Philadelphia. I was born and raised in the city, so I know for a fact that more things happen here besides murders. It’s important for others to know that we are people with actual stories to tell.

What are you inspired by right now?

I’m inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, my mentors and investigative reporting.

Do you have any favorite podcasts?

I do listen to a few podcasts. My favorite is Reveal. I love that they do investigative reporting and report on issues that matter in an interesting way, using audio. They truly make a difference in the work that they do and I would love to be a part of that work one day.

What is one thing you love about Philadelphia?

I know it sounds weird, but I love the public transportation. I don’t like driving, so I really like having a bunch of options to get to where I need to be. Plus, it’s good for the environment!

What is one thing you wish would change about Philadelphia?

If I could change one thing about Philadelphia it would be the school district. It’s no secret here that the school district sucks. Education is so important and it’s very unfortunate that so many children are missing out on the opportunity to expand their minds when they need to the most.

What does finding America look like to you/or in Philadelphia?

Finding America looks like the parts, people and things of Philadelphia that are generally ignored by mainstream media. It looks like Reverend Williams from Mount Airy United Fellowship Church trying to do something good for the next generation of African-American youth. It looks like two friends who just wanted to jump rope again, but ended up bringing double dutch back to the city to benefit hundreds of other people. It looks like a group of concerned residents who want the original name of their neighborhood back.

Tell us one random fact about yourself:

I currently have a big blood clot thing under my big toenail on my right foot because a photographer dropped a tripod on my toe while I was covering a story for Every ZIP in April. LOL! It’s been growing out very slowly.

Anything to add?

I plan to use journalism to make a significant difference in our society one day. I’m not 100 percent sure how I’m going to do that yet, but I know I’ll figure it out.