Storytelling for the People

NesimaPhotoBy Dean’s Intern Nesima Aberra at Vox

Interning at Vox has restored so much of my hope and faith for the media industry in pursuing stories that matter to people and helping us understand ourselves and the world better. As a Vox intern in the First Person section, I work on finding interesting perspectives to turn into narrative essays as well as interview people for our Conversations page. I had been following the Facebook activity about the Women’s March on Washington from when it was first proposed as an idea. I was curious to see if people would really show up and whether this movement was a significant part of progressive resistance. I asked my editor if anyone would be writing about the Women’s March in our section and when she said that there was a freelancer working on a feature piece, I then asked if I could contribute to that since I’d be attending anyways. Fortunately, she said yes!

From there, I jumped into meetings with my editor, the freelancer and a Vox photographer to plan out the best strategy of finding people to interview on such a chaotic day and how to turn this into an engaging photo essay. Initially, our story was going to be turned in the Monday after the March but then we found out that the editors wanted it up by the end of the day. No pressure! The freelancer had pre-prepared people to interview for the morning of the March and we all agreed to show up at 8:30 a.m. outside the museum before venturing out into the city. I didn’t expect that many people to be up at that time since the rally wasn’t meant to start until 10 and the march until the afternoon.

As I entered the metro, I was in shock at how many women were already there, dressed up, wearing pink hats and carrying signs. That was when I realized the Women’s March was going to be bigger than anyone expected. We had a particular intention to be be as inclusive as possible and show the range of marchers from different ages, genders, religions, classes and professions. I spoke to a trans woman, a group of scientists, a mother and daughter, and a grandmother with her grandchildren. The National Mall filled up with marchers and the energy in the air was contagious. It became almost impossible to stop and write notes because of how many people there were and I had to keep close to my colleagues or risk getting lost.

After we had finished collecting stories and it was getting close to noon, we rushed back to the Vox office to begin editing our interviews and photos over lunch. I continued to watch the rally online in the background while I furiously transcribed the interviews and we began to organize the voices with the most compelling quotes. After a few hours, we finally finished and then began to come up with ideas for headlines for the article and shared them in a focus group with other Vox staff through their Slack channel. By 4 p.m. that day, the story was published online. I couldn’t be more proud of my first story and getting to document a piece of history.

Check it out here: