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Sabrina Iglesias, a Puerto Rican woman from the neck up with long black hair, wearing glasses. She is looking at the viewer and is smiling.
Screenshot taken from the Motivos Team Talk recording.

Puerto Rican Philadelphia Inquirer reporter shares advice in virtual meeting, a Motivos Team Talk

Sabrina Iglesias, journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, shares her experiences, advice, and story through a virtual discussion held by Motivos magazine.

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Connecting to the Latino students of today, Motivos magazine uplifts and features student voices, featuring their stories, articles, poems, artwork, and photography in both English and Spanish, seeking to connect with Latino communities.

Motivos magazine regularly holds Team Talks for students to meet and listen to prominent figures from across industries. On Oct. 26, 2022, Philadelphia Inquirer Community Outreach Editor Sabrina Iglesias sat down with them to share her experiences and advice.

Jenée Chizick-Agüero, founder and publisher of Motivos magazine, led the Team Talk. The full recording of the event can be found on the Motivos magazine Facebook page.

As the Communities and Engagement Coverage Editor, Iglesias works with communities to uplift their voices and tell their stories.

To do so, she has to find information gaps in what she and her desk know about the communities they work with and fill them so that they are telling accurate and relevant stories.

“You can't just assume ‘oh yeah, I know Philly, I know what I know what some people might want to know.’ And that's the most exciting part is when you actually do get to go out and talk to people and build relationships and talk with them over and over and over again for hours at a time and really start to get to know people,” Iglesias said.

Though Iglesias is a steadfast journalist now, there was a moment where she doubted herself. Ever since she was a child, she planned to become a journalist. To fulfill this goal, she attended Temple University to further her study and understanding of journalism.

However when Iglesias graduated in 2015, she suddenly wasn’t so sure anymore about becoming a journalist. For years, she switched from job to job, testing the waters and searching for what she wanted to do.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Iglesias decided to dive back into journalism.

For her first foray into career journalism, Iglesias worked for The Trace as a community outreach editor. The Trace is the nation’s only non-profit newsroom dedicated solely to gun violence, reporting on incidents and related subjects nationwide.

“When I was hired there as community engagement editor, my role was specifically for Philly. It was to figure out what people in Philly need information wise when it comes to gun violence,” Iglesias said.

At The Trace, Iglesias helped create their “Up The Block” resource guide, detailing tools, resources, and people to help navigate life in Philadelphia, primarily for those who have been affected by gun violence in the city.

For two years, Iglesias would work for The Trace before coming to the Philadelphia Inquirer, giving her a welcome reprieve from the weight of reporting on gun violence for years.

At her new position, Iglesias handles a diverse range of stories from across the city; her desk managing far more stories than she received at The Trace.

But her position isn’t without challenges, the biggest of which Iglesias seeks to tackle is traditional newsroom culture: the quick turnover of stories that favors speed over proper engagement with the communities the stories are coming from.

“I think the biggest part of it for me is being authentic and available. Showing up for people doing community walkthroughs,” Iglesias said. 

“One day a week, [try] to go into different communities, and just walk through, talk to people, have normal conversations about anything. About whatever is going on in their lives [or] going on in your life,” she continued.

Through her outreach work, Iglesias sees herself forming connections with the people she talks to, not as sources, but as other people she can relate to and in turn, can relate to her.

But as a Puerto Rican journalist, Iglesias has found a need to build connections with communities, both staking her claim as a journalist in her field and to be able to seek out and provide advice with other journalists.

“Creating your community and creating a space that feels right for you is just as important as community engagement, as creating space for other people. You can't do your best work if you're burnt out; you can't do your best work if you feel like you're not being heard,” Iglesias said.

Networking at events hosted by organizations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists or the National Association of Black Journalists, or the Asian American Journalists Association are all examples of organizations founded by journalists seeking to connect with people of color and make spaces where they can feel welcome.

At a local level, Iglesias encourages connecting with neighborhood groups, nearby community groups, or college and high school student groups.

“Being in these groups is wonderful, because sometimes as a journalist, you can kind of feel a little isolated, depending on what your situation is. Having these groups to be a part of and work with folks [in these groups] has been really wonderful,” Iglesias said.

“In all of those spaces, you're gonna find your people, you're gonna find your community,” she said.

Motivos magazine is the largest bilingual magazine with yough-generated content in the U.S. with over 90,000 readers across 42 states and 4 countries. More information about them and their weekly Team Talks can be found here.

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