Launching the new Workday Minnesota

Today, Workday Minnesota is celebrating the best of what we have offered over the year and a half that I have been the editor. 

I would like to introduce our new website. 

The next iteration of Workday will better house the rigor and depth of the journalism we have been producing. 

I am extremely excited to share that over the last three months we have been working with the team at INN Labs to imagine together. We focused on what it would take to rebuild Workday to be responsive to our readers and enhance investigative reporting. The new website will allow us to display long form and investigative journalism in a more attractive and readable interface.This version of Workday will also allow us to effectively use multimedia segments to make what can sometimes be dense material more approachable.

However, the process to redesign Workday started long before we contracted with INN Labs. The prior version of the website was focused on featuring and presenting the voice of workers. Building on this legacy I used investigative reporting to explore the larger context of exploitative workplace conditions through the perspective of workers. Investigations were designed to hold the powerful accountable. 

We are evolving from presenting the voice of workers to supporting workers in using Workday Minnesota as a platform to directly articulate their stories. The challenge is that many workers in our societies and in our stories are in precarious and vulnerable situations and for their own safety need to be anonymous. Nevertheless, while their true voices can’t be a part of the story,  their influence is always there. 

Today I am proud to publish a series that has been in development for over a year. I have been working with adult entertainers organized through a group called the Feminist Strip Club. In anticipation of an ordinance change with the Minneapolis City Council, these women have articulated their vision of how the industry works along with their hopes for the future. These aren’t sensational articles but rather pieces that are rooted in the idea that every worker in any workplace deserves dignity. 

Since I have been the editor, Workday’s reporting and my own consciousness has been moved and shaped by the passions of folks on the ground. During our reporting on Seward Community Co-op and co-ops generally, I experienced how journalism agitates workers and the public. My reporting on prison labor for the first time brought a comprehensive analysis of how the system works in Minnesota. With this information I have given presentations and have been able to directly experience how these investigations move people to action.

Probably the most nourishing part of what I do is to transform readers into sources. Most of my lengthier pieces have been directed by individuals engaging with me as a source or aligned with an active campaign. I have appreciated how journalism can agitate to give greater perspective and information. I am finally making sense of the idea that journalism can be and is an exercise in mass popular education. 

You can look forward to Workday continuing to examine the intersection between immigration, labor trafficking, wage theft and the expanding deportation regime. In late 2018, I had an exclusive on the first prosecution for labor trafficking in the state’s history. Additionally, wage theft has always been a focus for Workday, but insight into how labor brokers manipulate immigrant workers while being enabled by major developers has emerged over the last two years and promises to expand. These investigative journalism projects are about accountability for those extracting profit from the pains of the undocumented. 

In order to build upon the foundation, we have created we need your support. Investigative and long for journalism is resource-intensive. What I have learned is that in Minnesota and especially in greater Minnesota there are many that need to be held accountable. With your support, I hope to train more writers, researchers and extend our reach. The most vulnerable in our society are also not in the Twin Cities. Reporting on the experience of immigrant communities in Worthington, Minnesota for example, requires travel and ongoing commitment. We need your help to get there and to continue going. 

You can donate here

On a personal note, developing an article over several months is also incredibly emotionally demanding. The folks that I come in contact with aren’t just interview subjects but become an indelible part of my life. I always think about getting to know Zeke Caligiuri for my prison labor work. I credit him not only as a source of information but as a mentor in writing as I developed my craft. While working on the article and regularly interviewing his mother, she passed away. This brought us closer together. I think about him often and consider him a friend. 

As the events of the El Paso mass shooting unfolds, I am also reminded how journalists have the difficult and weighty task of making sense of the senseless. To bring to the public’s attention necessary information. After the shooting, I went to the Texas Monthly (TM) and noticed that different from the national outlets, TM was one of the first to report that the shooter had articulated a white nationalist manifesto expressing his desire to kill immigrants. This piece of information is vital to understanding what is happening and understanding these atrocities as hate crimes and arguably the consequence of an increasingly nativist rhetoric from the President of the United States and his surrogates. 

This journalist spared me from having to read the hate fille rhetoric myself, and I thank them. But I am no less overwhelmed by the sense of grief and terror in how the community that I identity with the most was directly targeted. 

We live in difficult times and every so often I find it challenging to summon the courage and conviction to continue asking the hard questions. But as long as y’all keep reading and using the information I provide to advance accountability and justice for the vulnerable, then I will persist. 

We are in a symbiotic relationship. I borrow from your strength and determination to continue finding my own. Thank you for your continued support and readership.

In Solidarity, 

Filiberto Nolasco Gomez

Editor – Workday Minnesota

Filiberto Nolasco Gomez is a former union organizer and former editor of Minneapolis based Workday Minnesota, the first online labor news publication in the state. Filiberto focused on longform and investigative journalism. He has covered topics including prison labor, labor trafficking, and union fights in the Twin Cities.

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