ONA Weekly #318: Why Black Journalists Can’t Just “Shake It Off”

By on July 22, 2020


Why black journalists can’t just “shake it off”

MJ Bear Fellow Lance Dixon has spent most of his journalism career in Miami, sometimes covering violence in the neighborhoods where he grew up. “I see faces that look like me trying to make the most out of their circumstances, trying to build up these places, and trying to make the most of what is often a highly inequitable, unaffordable and divided city.” Read his powerful piece on the legacy of trauma covering violence evokes for black journalists.

New additions to ONA Insights: Emerging Tech

Join us at ONA Insights: Emerging Tech, happening online July 29-30, to hear these experts talk about how they’re using the latest innovations in storytelling technology.

Sessions will take place from 12-3:30 p.m. EDT/16:00-19:30 UTC each day. Check out the full list of speakers and name your own price to register now.

Federica Cherubini on managing your remote team

Federica Cherubini, co-author of the Distributed Teams Playbook, recently joined us to discuss best practices for leading remote teams for the long haul — including workflows, meetings and maintaining morale. This session was the third installment in our Newsroom Playbook Series for senior managers and executives; register to access the session recording.

ONA Community Award nominations due July 30

The ONA Community Award is a chance to lift up that behind-the-scenes person (or group) making outstanding contributions to digital journalism. Previous honorees include OpenNews director Erika Owens, recognized for her work to build community and define career paths for developers and designers in journalism; and the Journalists of Color Slack Administrators for creating a highly engaged support network. Who’s next? Nominate someone by July 30.

From the board: Showing up where others haven’t

We recently asked the ONA Board of Directors for their perspectives on journalism’s next move to address systemic racism, discrimination and representation of Black and other journalists of color in the industry.

In response, Aiyana Ishmael discussed how unpaid internships widen the opportunity gap faced by young journalists of color. Anita Li highlighted an example of a collaboration in Canada to address systemic racism, and Versha Sherma talked about the need for accountability in these efforts.

Now here’s Mandy Jenkins, General Manager for the Compass Experiment and Publisher of Mahoning Matters & The Longmont Leader, encouraging us to look outward beyond internal initiatives and examine our relationships with our audiences and communities.

A lot of the discussion about diversity and inclusion in the newsroom is focused internally, on hiring practices, talent development and creating healthy work environments. As news leaders, we also have to concentrate on the connection between those internal efforts at diversity and inclusion and the relationships we have with the communities we serve. 

We as an industry study every little thing about what our audiences are reading, sharing and buying—but what do we know of people in the community who have not traditionally been part of our audience?

As a publisher of two new hyperlocal news sites, I’ve learned no amount of platitudes and pledges are going to help us build a rapport with people who have long felt abandoned by local news. We are working to engage the voices in our communities that hold sway where the media does not—like churches, schools, neighborhood associations and advocacy groups—and find creative ways to bring them into our fold. We’ve been doing this through community forums, design thinking workshops and co-hosted events. We’re also working to bring in new voices through community-contributed columns and stories from emerging freelancers in our areas. But it all starts with showing up where others haven’t and listening, asking questions and finding areas where we can make impact. We have a long way to go to build the kind of news organizations that reflect our communities, but it is time and effort well spent.

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ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

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