Some journalists only cover breaking news, reporting quickly and thoroughly on events as they unfold. Others, like NBC BLK’ s Char Adams, get the chance to step back and do original features reporting, taking a deeper dive into a trend, development or a societal issue that deserves a closer look.
NBCU Academy recently tagged along with Adams as she reported in Houston on the increasing number of Black families forming homeschooling groups. Black families told her they were prioritizing homeschooling, desiring a Black-centric education and to cope with the changing educational landscape.
Check out the video to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to write features for NBC BLK, and read more below about how Adams reported this story, her tips for feature reporting and what it’s like to be a journalist with a speech impediment. This interview has been lightly edited for conciseness.
We followed you as you reported on Black homeschooling co-ops. How did this story happen?
Char Adams: I wanted to paint a holistic picture of what Black homeschooling looks like. I was trying to dive into why Black families are homeschooling more, what the benefits are and why so many Black homeschooling co-ops are starting to pop up.
I started doing research in November. I wanted to learn everything I could about homeschooling before I went to people with questions.
I wanted to talk to Black parents who were homeschooling. I found them through friends, Facebook groups and news articles. It was important to find Black families to talk to for this story, because I find that so much of the news is journalists talking about people, so I wanted to shift that and talk to people. There isn’t anyone who can tell you more about Black homeschooling than a family who is homeschooling.
What tips do you have for enterprise reporting?
Adams: Build relationships. Who are the grassroots groups in your town? What do the people rally around?
To begin the enterprise reporting process, search online and see what has already been written about that topic. What has already been explored, and what piece is missing? I’ve learned that the best way to move a story forward is to ask whose voice or whose perspective is missing. Who haven’t we heard from here?
Another tip is to make an outline for a story. You are going to talk to a bunch of people and do lots of research, so it’s going to help you if you can take some time to outline how you want your story to go.
What’s it like to be a reporter with a speech impediment?
Adams: There are many things I have to think about that other reporters don’t. I think a lot about how interview subjects are going to perceive me; I have to think twice about speaking on camera, too.
It’s not lost on me that I chose a field that requires perfect communication skills. I’ve worked through that. I’m a very confident person by nature, so that has helped a lot, but I have worked hard, and I have honed my skills.
I passionately believe I am capable of being a great journalist with a speech impediment, and that belief has carried me through.
Read more of Adams’ work below: