The NEXT New York Conversation: Haiti’s Future: New York Speaks Part Two
After a month of listening and collaborating, WNYC’S efforts to support New York’s devastated Haitian-American population proved meaningful.
The station’s February event provided a space for Haitians to voice their opinions and feel heard by the New York community. As a result, “the community started to see WNYC as a station that truly wanted to hear their voices,” WNYC’s Director of Community Engagement Brenda Williams-Butts stated. The event, a look at the impact of the earthquake one month after it struck, helped mitigate fear from Haitians that Haiti would “fall off the map” once media attention decreased.
An audience of 120 diverse community members filled WNYC’s Jerome L. Green Performance Space. “People were saying to us, this can no longer be a one-way conversation. It can’t be you talking to me,” explained WNYC executive producer, Indira Etwaroo.
Williams-Butts emphasized the importance of balancing panelist discussion with community conversation. She suggested stations “have less [focus on] panelists and more on people in the community exposing, talking and sharing.”
This sharing led to the deepest impact of the night-powerful networking. The event inspired connections across the New York community. Citizens and panelists requested information from participating physicians. Community members emailed the station requesting contact information for other experts who were present.
When asked about strategies WNYC used to create the valuable event, Williams-Butts and Etwaroo shared two suggestions. “Collaborating internally is what makes us so powerful,” reasoned Williams-Butts. Etwaroo added that identifying and leveraging station assets was equally important. “We have a community engagement department that can get the right mix of people in the room and we have a news department that can share crucial information with the broader community.”