5 guides to building a more equitable journalism

Resilience in media
5 min readJun 6, 2021

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This entry could also be titled “things I wish I’d been taught in college.” From limited interviewing techniques to a narrow scope of editorial frameworks, many journalism students graduate into an industry that asks much more of them than what they were taught in college. It may feel frustrating and overwhelming, but it can also undermine your sense of purpose in this field.

Fortunately, more and more journalism associations, non-profit organizations and newsrooms are contributing to the democratization of knowledge, including guides, case studies, open source tools and free courses.

Many of these resources focus on critical and often systemic issues in journalism, and they offer a fresh perspective about the different ways we can effect positive change through our work.

So here are five guides and toolkits I wish I’d known in college:

1. Solutions Journalism (SoJo)

“Less tunnel. More light,” wrote Keith H. Hammonds in this Medium post. He is the president of the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the method and practice of solutions journalism: rigorous, credible reporting on responses to social problems. It’s a way to move from watchdog journalism to guide dog journalism and address core editorial, business and audience needs. As Hammonds explains:

“We believe that rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems can strengthen society by increasing the circulation of knowledge necessary for citizens to engage powerfully with issues in their communities.”

This editorial framework builds on the accuracy and rigor of investigative journalism to go one step beyond and spotlighting not just problems, but the landscape of responses emerging to solve them. It’s a powerful approach that offers a greater sense of possibility and expands “the space in society for agency, as well as human connection, concern and engagement.

Here are some useful links to learn more about this method:

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

2. Collaboration in newsrooms

The future of journalism is collaborative. I repeat: the future of journalism is collaborative. But this is easier said than done. That’s why Facet is so encouraging, as it is a direct contribution to this vision of a more prosperous and resilient future in news.

Founded by Heather Bryant, a talented journalist and software engineer, Facet is an open source project to help newsrooms manage the multifaceted challenge of planning and executing collaborative projects across different platforms, with partners of various sizes and resources.

Facet offers a comprehensive set of tools and resources to make collaboration easier and more effective for newsrooms. To learn more about this fascinating project, visit these links:

3. Dialogue Journalism

Using journalism to reduce polarization, build communities, and restore trust in journalism.

That’s what Spaceship Media does and their impact has been outstanding. Journalists Eve Pearlman and Jeremy Hay cofounded this organization in 2016 to combine human-centered design, engagement journalism and rigorous reporting — supported bey fairness, thorough research and accuracy — to bring people from communities in conflict together into a journalism-supported dialogue. They created this novel and highly effective approach called dialogue journalism.

How does it work? What results has it achieved? Glad you asked. Here are some additional resources about dialogue journalism:

Here’s a 2-minute recap to peak your interest:

4. Local Journalism: Ecosystems Toolkit

How do people in your community get news and information about what’s happening where they live? Hopefully you’re one of the lucky few who have great local and hyperlocal news outlets.

According to a report by UNC’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media, since 2004, over 1800 newsrooms have closed in the United States alone. This means that millions of people live in news deserts, which not only hurts the representation of these communities in the social conversations at a larger scale, but it also makes them much more vulnerable to disinformation and misinformation. Local news and civic information are critical elements of healthy communities and democracies.

Like recovering a natural ecosystem, filling those news deserts requires a lens of resilience. Local News Lab has been developing a comprehensive set of resources to address this, check them out below:

5. Why should I tell you? A guide to less-extractive reporting

Last, but definitely not least, there’s one question that we should be asking ourselves more often in journalism: What are we doing to purposefully protect the humanity of the people who trust us with their stories? Are we willing to turn our backs to a headline in order to prioritize their dignity?

In the 2021 Latino Media Summit, journalist Enrique Acevedo offered this valuable reporting tip:

Treat interviews with ordinary people living through extraordinary circumstances with the humanity and empathy that they deserve.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism tackles this issue head on with this resource: Why Should I Tell You?: A Guide to Less-Extractive Reporting. In this guide, they explore what vulnerable communities stand to gain — or lose — from sharing their stories with reporters, and what reporters are doing about it. They also offer key recommendations for journalists to keep in mind when engaging with vulnerable communities.

Bonus track: IJNet, the news platform by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), has numerous toolkits for journalists. The topics range from budgeting and accounting to visual storytelling and grant writing. You can check them out here.

What other resources would you add to this list?

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Resilience in media

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