In May 2019, we created Reckon Women, a Facebook group dedicated to discussing the issues Alabama needs to address to help women thrive. More than 1,000 women joined within the first 24 hours. We partnered with Spaceship Media to guide the group and continue that partnership today.
In June 2019, the group turned its conversation from the state’s passage of the country’s most-restrictive abortion law to examining how the state treats the mothers of Alabama. Reporter Anna Claire Vollers examined the question, finding challenges and solutions with the support of Solutions Journalism Network.
Vollers reporting served the audience in this Facebook Group, and through real conversations, this group helped guide, source and advise on the our yearlong reporting project on Motherhood in Alabama. The journalism produced resulted in big change, leading state lawmakers to fund for the first time a Maternal Mortality Review Committee to count, track and find ways to help prevent mothers from dying in childbirth.
The group — which more than doubled between June 2019 and May 2020, created community, and that human connection produced real change, too:
Followers of the group took matters into their own hands after we told the story of how the system failed a young mother from Montgomery who lost her twin babies during childbirth. The woman still had outstanding debt from the funeral two years prior. The group immediately tried to figure out how to help, and some helped pay the debt so the mother could bring home her babies’ ashes just one day after the story published.
Two women interviewed in our work – both of whom nearly died from pregnancy complications – met through Reckon Women. The pair united to launch a nonprofit organization to lobby for change. It’s called MAMA Collaborative (Maternity And Motherhood in Alabama). They had 60 members their first day, rallying around the slogan: “Every. Mother. In.” They consulted with the greater Reckon Women community in the creation and launch of the organization.
Because our group wanted to meet in person, we also partnered with the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham to bring a series of five events to women throughout the state. At each event we shared the stories behind the headlines, listened to learn about our attendees thoughts, issues and then shared our tips to advocate for issues. Facebook/Lenfest supported the work financially.
All finalists for the Gather Award in Engaged Journalism were invited by the award sponsor, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s Agora Journalism Center, to participate in a Lightning Chat where they were given the opportunity to talk more about the impact of their OJA finalist engaged journalism project. Check out this finalists Lightning Chat below.