Working on an in-depth investigation into the crisis in affordable housing was an 'incredible experience' says American University graduate journalism student Jerrel Floyd. He was assigned to the FRONTLINE and NPR project as part of a fellowship with AU School of Communication's Investigative Reporting Workshop (IRW).
The program, "Poverty, Politics and Profit: The Housing Crisis," aired nationwide in May on PBS stations.
No newcomer to investigative work, before working with Frontline and IRW, Floyd worked as an investigative intern with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was a part of team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for its report on doctors and sexual misconduct across America. The investigation pulled together and examined thousands of cases of sexual misconduct by physicians in the United States since 1999; highlighting the prevalence of these incidents and lack of legal ramifications for the doctors involved.
Floyd was also a student investigative reporter with the Georgia News Lab.
However, the FRONTLINE project was indeed a learning experience that took Floyd out of his comfort zone, he said. "Much of the work I did involved me working with [Frontline] Associate Producer Emma Schwartz, who is a complete genius, with the data analysis that was going to coincide with the production," he said.
"It was a lot of looking at housing funds and trying to analyze the trends over time with those funds. Prior to this I had some experience working with data, but never with affordable housing in the United States. There were a lot moments [when I was] just trying to grasp different terminology because affordable housing is its own universe," he shared.
Throughout the process, Floyd maintained his commitment to the project. He spent his spring break as a production assistant during some of the filming with housing experts.
"Just to see the amount of work [FRONTLINE] put into the small details to make sure a shot was perfect was astonishing. They really are incredible filmmakers and at the same time fantastic reporters," he said.
He encourages those who want to pursue similar work to be as observant as possible.
"You will be amazed at what you can learn from just simply being around incredible reporters like those at IRW and Frontline," he said.