How do we get journalists to move into the communities they cover?

Session Host: Jerome Vaughn
Participants: Karen Alvarado, Robin Teater, Mansour Abdur-Rahim

The idea from the session comes from underrepresentation of the community in newsrooms. It’s hard to accurately represent community needs, cover community stories when reporters are only in communities they cover for only a few hours per day. This is also a key reason for diminished trust of journalists in may places/communities.

Similar issues exist with police officers who patrol community a, but reside and recreate in community b. As with journalists this can lead to a lack of understanding of the community, a lack of true cultural knowledge of what’s going on.

This can lead to a distrust of journalists, especially if they only come to a certain community/neighborhood when there is bad news to tell. That same situation can lead to a lack of empathy. “There’s an inherent distrust of the other.”

The group took time to talk about the practicality of having reporters move to areas thy cover, especially when beats change and neighborhoods/ communities regularly change, sometimes in dramatic ways.

One of the participants focused in on the intent of the journalist. Does the journalist really want to me be into the coverage area to become an actual part of the community? Or is s/he there to conduct an anthropological study (looking down upon community members? Intention makes all the difference.

The group came to the understanding that journalist-community divisions come from the same issues that cause other divisions in and Amanda by other communities: people don’t know each other.

We wound up determining that journalists don’t necessarily need to move into the communities they cover — there are logistical obstacles to this. What we really need to focus on is getter my communities to talk to each other.