Where the power lies
Aspen Journalism has been working to build a social justice desk dedicated to covering inequality and how systems of power affect different communities in our region. We published our second story under the social justice banner this week and both pieces show the potential of what this effort can accomplish. (The first story, by Lindsay Fendt, was published last month and looked at how the pandemic has exacerbated issues that arise from a lack of internet access.).
The most recent article is written by Hector Salas, a freelance reporter based out of Grand Junction but raised in Rifle, who dug into the disparity in vaccine distribution between the white and Latino communities, which is striking. Statewide as of May 6, just shy of 50% of white people had received one dose of vaccine, compared to 20% of Latinos. In region, the numbers can be even more skewed. In Eagle County, 60% of white people have recieved at least one shot as of May 6, compared to 15% of Latinos. In other places the data is unclear; for example, in Pitkin County, nearly 60% of those vaccinated did not report their race or ethnicity.
Salas’ piece examines how efforts to close this gap have mobilized activist organizations, and the hope that the work being done to address the inequities laid bare by COVID can help combat larger systemic issues. “If we’re not at the table, we’re going to be on the menu and our community will be left behind yet again,” Voces Unidas de las Montañas founder and executive director Alex Sanchez told Salas.
The story relies on a critical collaboration with Laurine Lassalle, who has been keeping tabs on local COVID-19 statistics since June of 2020 for our Tracking the Curve project. Lassalle relied on her knowledge of COVID data sources to gather and analyze the vaccination-by-race-and-ethnicity metrics central to the story. We are excited to announce that Lassalle, who graduates with a master’s degree from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism this weekend, will be taking on an expanded role with Aspen Journalism beginning in June — after a two-week break during which Tracking the Curve will be on pause. At Cal, she has been studying both data journalism and investigative environmental reporting, and she has reported multiple stories for us in the last year covering increasing recreation numbers, pandemic trends and COVID’s impacts on agriculture. As our data desk editor, Lassalle will be working to catalogue, analyse and present as much local public interest data as we can get our hands on, producing her own work and supporting our team of reporters, editors and freelancers.
— Curtis Wackerle, editor
By Hector Salas | May 14, 2021 | SOCIAL JUSTICE DESK
In Eagle County, which has the largest Latino population among the three counties making up the Roaring Fork Valley, 60% of white people have received one dose, compared with 15% of Latinos. Continue reading…
By Laurine Lassalle | May 14, 2021 | COVID-19 INFO
Garfield County reported five new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, Eagle and Pitkin counties didn’t add any new cases on their dashboards. Pitkin County’s 7-day positivity rate is now the lowest in the tri-county region, at 1.1%. Continue reading…
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