The Small Places Approach to International Reporting

The Small Places Approach to International Reporting


Kiara Vance (she/her/hers)
Director of Admissions & Outreach
Eva Vazquez (she/her)
Project Coordinator/Admissions Assistant

In an era influenced by headlines, the nuanced and intimate stories from smaller regions, cities, and towns often go unheard. The "Small Places Approach" to international reporting seeks to equalize this imbalance by focusing on the rich, diverse, and deeply human stories that emerge from the world's less publicized corners.

Understanding the Small Places Approach

The Small Places Approach emphasizes reporting from regions typically overshadowed by significant news events. These places might be small towns, remote villages, or overlooked urban neighborhoods. The goal is to provide a platform for voices and stories lost in the noise of global news cycles. This approach is rooted in the belief that every place has unique and valuable stories to tell, no matter how small.

The Importance of Small Places

1) Cultural Diversity: Small places often harbor rich cultural traditions and practices that are fascinating and integral to the global mosaic. By reporting on these areas, journalists can help preserve and celebrate this diversity.

2) Human Connection: Stories from small places often highlight the universal human experience. They provide insights into people's daily lives, struggles, and triumphs, fostering a sense of empathy and shared values.

Cafe owner prepares food while student takes his photo

Adriatic, Italy students met with a café co-owner on 5/21/24 to learn more about his story, popular drinks, and the shop's daily activities.

3) Social Impact: Reporting about these locations can bring attention to issues neglected or misrepresented by more prominent media outlets. This can increase awareness and support and potentially inspire change initiatives and appreciation for these communities.

Techniques for Effective Reporting on Small Places

1) Deep Immersion: Spend significant time in the community to observe its dynamics and build trust with its inhabitants. This allows for more authentic and honest storytelling. ieiMedia students can do this in various ways, including participating in homestays, engaging with local connections and family of Program Directors and faculty, and adding to the mosaic of stories that alumni have reported on for over 20 years.

ieiMedia’s founder, Andy Ciofalo, was once asked, “How can you keep going back to Cagli? I feel like you’re going to keep telling the same stories in this town.” To this, he answered, “There are 10,000 people. There are 10,000 stories to tell.” This mindset is exactly what small-place journalism is all about.

2) Local Collaboration: Work with local journalists and community members who intimately know the area. Their insights can provide context and depth to the reporting.

A large group of 2023 Arles, France students pose for photo at La Provence, a local daily news site.

2023 Arles, France students got an inside look into La Provence, a daily news site in the area, giving them more project exposure.

3) Human-Centered Stories: Focus on individuals and their stories. Personal narratives often illuminate broader social, economic, and political issues compellingly and relatable.

4) Visual and Audio Elements: Utilize photography, video, and audio recordings to bring stories to life. They capture the essence of a place and its people in a way that words might not be able to.

Two students, Kris Miron and Yuying Guo, take photographs during Corpus Domini in Cagli, Italy, June 2, 2024.

ieiMedia students Kris Miron and Yuying Guo photograph, working all the angles, during Corpus Domini in Cagli, Italy, June 2, 2024.

Challenges and Rewards

Reporting from small places comes with challenges, including logistical difficulties, language barriers, and the need for extensive background knowledge. However, the rewards are exponential. Journalists often find that the stories they uncover are profoundly impactful, shedding light on hidden aspects of the human condition in this area and beyond.

Give Small Places a Bigger Voice With ieiMedia

The Small Places Approach to international reporting is a powerful tool for uncovering forgotten or overlooked stories. By shining a light on the diverse experiences of people in smaller locales, journalists can contribute to a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding of our world. They help ensure that every voice, no matter how small, has the opportunity to be heard.

If you're considering reporting abroad — or a career in multimedia, communications, or journalism — and have questions or topics you'd like us to cover, we'd love to hear from you. Please reach out to us at

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