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Reporter's Notebook: How Alli Fam Started The 'Overtime' Series

Reporter Alli Fam holds a microphone to the left of Vee Lewis, one of the subjects of the Overtime series.
Mary McIntyre

Hi! My name is Alli, and I’m the reporter spearheading the Overtime series at NHPR. 

It’s a bit awkward to write a story where I’m not telling someone else's story. Where I use the first person. I guess a starting point is how I connected with the six women in our series. 

Watching millions of women leave the workforce nationwide and then struggle to come back, the pandemic was exacerbating what so many women have felt for so long. New Hampshire might have the lowest unemployment rate in the country, but that doesn’t mean the state’s economy or society is uplifting women. With this series, my goal has been to continue that conversation, and to highlight all the labor women do (paid and unpaid), as the pandemic recedes. I tried to connect with women who were having that conversation, because they’d lived it. 

I started with a variety of New Hampshire Facebook groups. I poured through our listener engagement survey (yes we really do read your responses!), and reached out to a few women. I contacted non-profits, asking if anyone they were working with might be a good fit. I even tried striking up conversations with people at grocery stores and gas stations when I was out and about on weekends.

Once I had a pool of around ten women who were interested in participating, I started making connections, and talking with potential subjects for an hour or two. 

At that point, there wasn’t much selection left to do. Every conversation went well but a few of weren’t interested or stopped getting back to me. One, it turned out, was moving soon to Georgia. And so, we landed at the incredible six you’re meeting, like Lidia Yen and Sherry Pratt

In any project like this, there’s always the question of diversity in all of its forms: race, class, geographic location, age, etc. And it's a priority I struggled with in reporting this series and probably didn’t do perfectly. I’ve been in the position of wondering if I was chosen to fill a panel spot because I’m queer and identify as mixed race. I didn't want anyone in this series to feel like they were here to check a box. At the same time, not being intentional about bringing a range of voices and experiences to this series felt like a recipe for misrepresentation.

So aside from my goal of having at least one person in the North Country (because as a Concord-based news outlet, we don’t report in person there as much as we’d like to) I shied away from strict number targets even as I centered the goal of racial diversity. I tried to be intentional about seeking out women from a variety of spaces before conducting pre-interviews in the hopes that the series would represent a range of lived experiences from the state of New Hampshire.

So far, working on this series has definitely been a bit of overtime (haha) work itself. But it’s also been amazing to finally meet the six women, many of whom I’ve been in contact with since March or April, in person. Visiting Vee in Berlin was one of, if not the first time, I was able to go into someone’s home in person again. Yesterday, I met up with Shelly-Anne Storer, a baker and chef who’s on the hunt for a new location for her business after some devastating landlord issues at her last spot. Stay tuned for that story next week.

We want you to add your voice to Overtime. How are you managing the needs of caregiving and work during the pandemic? What is changing for you as the pandemic fades?

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