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    Coffee with a Journalist: Margo Snipe, Capital B

    Today, we’re joined by Capital B’s national health reporter, Margo Snipe. As a national health reporter, Margo covers critical issues affecting the mental and physical health of Black Americans. She digs into how racial bias in medicine impacts Black Americans’ lives and investigates inequities in the American health care system.

    During the episode, Margo shares more about her role at Capital B, the various types of pitches in her inbox, sources she’s looking to connect with, and more.

    Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:

    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    What is Capital B?

    00:01:56] BB: This is fun. We already had a fun time, Margo, with our videos so far. We are rolling. Margo, first thing for people, maybe not as familiar, and I do this more often with outlets that are the New York Times. What is Capital B?

    “...our mission is to cover Black communities across the country.”

    [00:02:10] MS: This is something I had to get used to, all my emails, when I'm reaching out to people, I have to tell them up front at the top of the email what Capital B is. Every time I call I have to tell people who where we are, because no one knows yet. We just launched – ago, but Capital B is a new nonprofit newsroom, founded by some amazing Black women. Lauren and Akoto, and our mission is to cover Black communities across the country. We have a variety of different beats. We have a national team, which I'm a part of, where we have health reporting, which I do. We're about to bring in an education reporter or criminal justice reporter. We just brought in an environment reporter. We cover big issues affecting the Black community from a national perspective. We also have our first local newsroom in Atlanta doing the same thing, but locally within the community.

    [00:03:02] BB: Local News? You mean, Margo. Oh, my God. Wow. Fantastic.

    [00:03:08] MS: I love that about Capital B, it's like, I can be a national reporter, but we work so closely with local news and we're trying to expand other cities that it's still pretty local.




    Her Thoughts on Pitches



    [00:07:14] BB: We talked a little bit, Margo, about this on our video pieces, which are great. I encourage everyone to look at these quick videos that we filmed here, but for your pitching preferences and I'd say even since you got here at Capital B in January, we're filming this in, we're taping this in April, it's still relatively new. What are you looking for in a good pitch, one that you're like, “Yes, let me respond.”

    [00:07:38] MS: It really varies, because right now I'm still in the process of figuring out exactly what the health B that Capital B should look like. One thing I'm always, always, always looking for doctors across the country to connect with, because I can find some on Twitter. There are a lot of them.

    “I did [get] a few pitches, but the pitches that I get are either really out of left field or they're very hyper-specific.”

    [00:07:59] BB: There are tons. Yeah. 

    [00:08:00] MS: Yeah. I also want to find the people who are not on Twitter and super loud and vocal. Let's diversify the people or the doctors and health professionals we're hearing from. I do get pitches that are like talk to this expert. The thing with those, though, is I'll get, it's Alcohol Awareness Month. I have this expert for you, and maybe I'm not writing about Alcohol Awareness Month, but I'll scroll down and I will copy that expert's name and contact info, because I know that they talk about addiction too. Maybe that road, I want to circle back about addiction more generally.

    “Yeah, I always want to know about xyz doctor, xyz nurse, xyz research or research group or organization. Yeah, and definitely or just to add them to my crazy long list of everyone who does anything.”

    I also I'm trying to get out there with universities, so I get research in my inbox. Some of the pitches I just shared earlier. Yeah, I'm looking at a lot of different things, a lot of different research or just learning who's doing what work in the space.

    [00:09:01] BB: Now are you at all, when you mentioned the doctors, open to then a pitch that's, “Hey, Margo, I have a really qualified doctor that specializes in X. Ever want to talk?” Is that something you'd be open to? 

    [00:09:16] MS: I would love that.


    How She Writes Stories

    [00:10:31] MS: Well, if you ask my editor, she will tell you that anything that crossed my mind for 2.2 seconds is like a pitch that I've already started reporting. I need to –

    [00:10:46] BB: Oh, okay.

    [00:10:48] MS: I need a little bit more specific about what I'm reporting on, and I have a short story list.

    [00:10:54] BB: You got you, because there's so much probably.

    [00:10:56] MS: The ideas come from a lot of different places. Some of what I've written for Capital B already. Our story is that when I was at the Tampa Bay Times, I had written from a Tampa Bay perspective that I could circle back a year later on and do it from a national perspective. That happened with the story that I wrote about menthol Cigarettes. There was also, I came across some research on COVID 19, racial disparities making white people care less, knowing about those racial disparities made them less vigilant about masking or social distancing.

    “I need a little bit more specific about what I'm reporting on, and I have a short story list.”

    I was like, “Oh, my goodness.” I mean, for the work that I do, because that's my job to inquest disparities and highlight them. Also, what does that mean for the people who have been working in health equity forever? Well, let's report that out, maybe write that, because people are thinking the same thing I am. My latest was on a study that came in, Lauren, one of our co-founders. It came into her inbox and she forwarded it my way. We got the study on embargo. A lot of different moving parts. 

    [00:12:05] BB: Yeah. I'll say. So it sounds like there's no story structure necessarily that you're like, “Yeah, let me go to my story room and think to myself on anything.” It’s like, no, it sounds like there's quite a flow of way too many stories to even tackle. 

    [00:12:19] MS: Yeah. Let's grab that and get on with it. That's kind of like it.





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