How can we use the tools and practice of journalism to further movements for justice and dignity?

Friday 2:30pm

Session Host: Sarah Loose
Reporter: Jana Thrift
Participants: Sarah Loose, Jana Thrift, Sami Edge, Jackie Hai, Laura Lo Forti, Elissa Schuler Adair

Jana—activist looking for tools and practices to help share info in an engaging way.
Sami—journalism interest to correct injustices
Jackie—came to conference to reconnect with roots. Drawn to journalism to find people who care about creating justice.
Laura—traditional journalist in past. considers herself recovering journalist. From Italy. Creating justice was not the reason for the newsroom and became disinterested. She works with helping people tell their stories. Excited to use skills for social change.
Sarah—a community organizer and activist. Also an oral historian. Not identified as journalist. Recognizes today’s journalism as being very much about getting the soundbite and her effort is to tell the longer story of individuals. What does journalism have to contribute to the longer oral historian’s efforts.
Elissa—Researcher of media polls and works with public health services. Very interested in tools and practices because having the structure is half the work.

In what way does community engagement address issues with goals of social justice.
Working with people in multiple communities is a way to reach goals for justice.
There is so much information it is hard to engage with the community—what is of interest to you, what is worth shining a spotlight on? Sometimes the process is organic or accidental.
Spontaneous reactions are often the beginning of the issues that go viral.

Go back to “what is a good story”? The way the story is shared is very important. How do you make the story beautiful—to reach the people you want to reach.

Solutions based journalism is very important. Share story of the successful effort to fix things, rather than focusing on the problem.

Accuracy vs. objectivity. Telling the story with objectivity can be difficult when there is a specific point of view you might want to share. Give the facts with passion and commitment. Be articulate about your point of view. A specific agenda that you focus on.

Allow the community to have enough information in order to act or not. Fit into a larger narrative.

They did a research project about diet plans but they had difficulty with the range of data and whether it would meet the goals of the group’s information sharing effort. People have different opinions about how to present data. Have enough different viewpoints to get diverse input.

Think credibly about viewpoints that may be missing. Try hard to poke holes in your own argument. Consider alternative viewpoints. Shows you did the work to lay it all out to be evaluated.

Get both sides of the story but be sure the story is related accurately still. Where is the balance between truth and opinion? Awareness of the weight of difference of opinions is very important.

Sarah was doing an oral history about immigrant mothers feeding habits. An incredible community health provider was involved. He was alienated from a dula program but was a father that played a very important role in his babies feeding habits. It was seen that including men in their exhibit was an important factor to include.

There are so many answers to some stories, it can be easy to lose sight of what the story was in the beginning. Some stories can change in the end.

The type of journalism practiced is a big role in how the story should be told. Limitations of deadlines and space play a large part.

Balancing the need for simplifying and complicating the details in a story is important. Get to know your story well and communicate with the source, so they understand fully your intention.

There are many levels of readers—provide a simple story and then give the tools for diving into the deeper parts of the issues.

If your goal is to get someone to take an action, you need to simplify. You have to have a message that is straight forward enough to help someone know what they can do exactly.

Whose experience am I asking the reader to live for awhile? Then the reader can decide if they are moved to action.

Read quotes back to people but Sami never allows them to read the story before it is done.

Contextualize a voice–let source make corrections but not change things generally.

Close collaboration with subjects helps a story be told well. Good story telling creates action.

What platform can you find to further your cause? How you distribute a story is important. A good story can bring serious attention, even without a call to action.

Decide format and market, etc.—to reach the audience you want to reach.

Sami sharing—Experience with police language alienating youth. The community felt the survey did not seem to be for their benefit. She suggests to do a case study about the community before you survey them. What is the best platform for giving out information?

A photo journalist researched worldwide people living on $1 per day. She captures individual strengths, etc. At the exhibit they are making an app to learn more about the people’s personal stories. They also provide an action that viewers can take right there at the exhibit. It is about accountability. Journalists get excited about solutions but you need a process to hold people accountable–by giving them an action to take immediately.

Adding solutions components is a common theme. Investigative journalism is a very big part of that.

Align your stories with existing forces/movements—to get natural support for your effort. Tune in. “Voice for the voiceless” vs. “ears for the deaf”

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