KETC/Channel 9 Trying to Create a "Safe Place" for Immigration Debate. Good Luck with That.

Sep 8, 2010 at 11:59 am
KETC/Channel 9, the local PBS affiliate in St. Louis, is surveying members for their views on immigration -- part of a new project called "Homeland," which the station hopes will create a "safe place where the community can come together to determine how to best deal with immigration."

Our first thought: Dear God, are they insane??!?!?

Admittedly, the views of this writer may be colored her five-plus years spent in the angry belly of the immigration wars: Phoenix, Arizona. But it's not just Phoenix, clearly. Even stories that the RFT has published here in St. Louis about the difficulties faced by illegal immigrants have generated serious vitriol. If you so much as suggest there should be a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, you're sure to receive a barrage of angry comments (and generally at least one suggestion that you deserve to be a raped by a quote-unquote "wetback").

But that's exactly what Homeland wants to combat, says Amy Shaw, KETC's vice president of education and community engagement.

"We are very much trying to get people out of the polarizing narrative of traditional media and really get at what's important to people and give them a pathway for their voice to be heard when it comes to immigration," she explained in an email to Daily RFT.

That'll have several components. Today, an email went out to people on KETC's mailing list, asking them to share their thoughts in a survey about immigration. There's also a new landing page on the station's website, full of supplemental content and some historical perspective. And, next spring, the station's TV power will be put to work for the project, with a four-hour television series scheduled to air both nationally and here in St. Louis.

You can check out the Homeland website here.  If you're lucky enough to be on KETC's mailing list, check your inbox: You can also weigh in on the survey. 

We took the survey this morning, and found it pretty interesting. For one thing, it tried to assess both our level of passion on the issue -- and our knowledge. For example: How many people are allowed to immigrate legally to this country every year? You can work in Phoenix for five years and still not necessarily have the right answer for that one -- everyone's too busy shouting about the "danged fence." It was enlightening to realize just how much we didn't know.

For the record, we wouldn't recommend the Homeland project for anyone who's foaming at the mouth about "the illegals." (There is, deep in the survey, a question about how you feel about "amnesty" -- which everyone knows is one of the seven words you can't say in Republican politics these days.) But if you're a thoughtful person, regardless of whether you support a path to citizenship or not, you'll probably find the project intriguing.

And, what the heck: Even if you aren't, KETC claims they want to hear from you.

"Does this resonate with you? What are we missing?" the Homeland page asks. "There's a new voice about immigration, yours." Just please -- try to weigh in without shouting this time, okay?