News outlets have failed to tell Americans about our history of racial injustice, leaving us to learn about events like the Tulsa Massacre from fiction

tulsa race massacre camps
Entrance to refugee camp on fairgrounds after Tulsa race massacre, Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 1921.

  • Americans need to understand the history of marginalized groups to create equity and understand current events.
  • News organizations have a responsibility to report on these historical stories even when they don’t fit neatly into the “breaking news” cycle.
  • Lynn Brown is a writer, professor, digital storyteller and traveler whose work centers on issues of race, place, culture and history.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In the wake of the widespread protests against racial injustice in the US last summer, many media organizations began the – in some cases long overdue – process of looking inward for ways to create racial equity in their organizations. Public diversity statements became the norm, and many organizations started or buffed up their DEI efforts and made high-profile hires of people of color into key leadership positions.

All of this is wonderful. In fact, this internal work is necessary for all organizations committed to creating equity; however, media companies have an extra responsibility that is often overlooked. News organizations have the responsibility to understand and inform the public of the context in which a lot of this change is taking place. Because of how traditional journalism privileges things that are happening right now or in the future, the public misses a major part of the story about racial injustice, which has become a major stumbling block to moving forward.

With racial justice issues, it is often in the past where the real heart of the story lies. Without a solid understanding of what has gone on before with regards to systemic racism and injustice, it can be hard to really get a grasp on the true gravity of the situation, the deep feelings behind this most recent push for racial justice, or the intricacies of the systems that need to be dismantled in order to truly make change.

The trouble with traditional models

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests last summer are a great example. Understanding the fervor with which BLM protestors pushed back against police violence requires that the reader, and thus the reporter, understand just how long-standing the tension between police and the Black community is. Not just in terms of the last few years, but also in terms of the last few decades and even centuries. Rather than starting, as many such articles do, with Rodney King – one of the first videotaped instances of police violence against a Black man – it’s more accurate to do an in-depth report on the countless unnamed people who were victims of similar violence in the decades before video evidence was available. Protests like those we saw last summer are the culmination of all of the stories that went untold in the past, not just those that are breaking in the present. However, if those stories of the past remain untold, there will always be a gap in understanding.

Traditionally, any historical context a reporter feels the reader might need in order to understand a story is added in as succinctly as possible. Usually a line or two, maybe a paragraph, describing the background is included at the end of a story. This is part of the “inverted pyramid” style of writing we often learn in journalism school. However, this practice assumes that the story’s background is common knowledge and all a reader really needs is just enough information to jog their memory or inspire them to look into the subject further on their own.

In the context of racial justice, however, this just isn’t the case. There is often no memory there to jog because so many of these historical instances of injustice went unreported in mainstream media outlets when they happened, and were then relegated to the halls of academia, where only those studying subjects like history, ethnic studies, or critical race theory had easy access to them.

Part of the problem is that up until very recently news outlets were highly segregated. Breaking news about violence and injustice enacted on communities of color were relegated to news outlets run by often wildly underfunded news organizations within the communities themselves, and were rarely reported on in the mainstream news outlets. Thus, the work that these local organizations did, as well as the work they didn’t get to report on, never became common knowledge. Instead, these stories were relegated to history with little to no reliable way of making it to mainstream consciousness.

Filling the gaps

Currently the most reliable way that these overlooked stories are being told seems to be via fictional media. For example, media interest in the 1921 Tulsa Massacre only resurfaced after its depiction in the HBO show “Watchmen”. The problem here is that TV and movies can only do so much. It’s not really the job of TV writers to inform the public, and fictionalizing these important stories shouldn’t be the only way to bring them to the public consciousness. In fact, having fictionalized versions be the first, and sometimes only, way these stories reach the mainstream media can be detrimental. Fictionalized versions of historical events can create an inaccurate understanding of the issue at hand, and cause the facts of a story to seem open to interpretation.

It is not the job of the fiction writer to educate the public and tell the facts of important stories, it’s the job of the journalist. If journalists didn’t do it adequately enough the first time, isn’t it our responsibility to go back and remedy that now?

Tell the history

Some reporters, most often reporters of color, have managed to bridge this gap in historical context with their work. Most notably journalists like Nikole Hannah-Jones, who spearheaded the award-winning 1619 Project for The New York Times, or Ta-Nehisi Coates whose 2014 Atlantic piece “A Case for Reparations” sparked a national conversation that went all the way to the floor of Congress. But there are so many more important historical stories to be told, many of which don’t fit neatly into the breaking news cycle, making it difficult for journalists eager to tell these stories to find homes for them.

If news organizations are truly committed to the cause of truth telling and racial justice, it is necessary to break with tradition and find ways to tell more of the stories from the past that are so vital to creating the future we want to see.

Lynn Brown is a writer, professor, digital storyteller and traveler whose work centers on issues of race, place, culture and history. She’s an adjunct associate professor at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and the New School and her work can be found in GQ, Sierra Magazine, Ebony, Vice, and others. Find her on Twitter at @lrdbrown79.

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Biden says it’s ‘simply wrong’ to allow the DOJ to seize phone records and emails from reporters

Biden
President Joe Biden

  • President Joe Biden told CNN he would not allow the DOJ to seize records from reporters.
  • His remarks come after reports said the DOJ covertly obtained email and phone records from journalists with The Washington Post and CNN.
  • Biden condemned the practice, calling it “simply wrong.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden on Friday condemned the government seizing phone and email records from reporters.

He told CNN he would not permit the Department of Justice to do so while he’s president, calling the practice “simply wrong.”

“I will not let that happen,” he said.

His comments come after reports saying the Justice Department covertly obtained records from multiple reporters at The Washington Post and CNN.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department under the Trump administration pulled phone records from several of its journalists who were investigating Russia’s influence in the 2016 elections.

The DOJ notified three of its reporters “that pursuant to legal process the United States Department of Justice received toll records … for the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017.” These records included their personal, work, and home phone numbers.

And just this week, CNN reported its Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, was informed in a similar fashion that the Justice Department had seized her phone records.

The DOJ obtained Starr’s personal and work email, as well as her phone records, between June 1, 2017, and July 31, 2017. Starr was notified that the records had been seized after a court had approved the action.

As long as the attorney general approves the request, prosecutors are able to obtain records from journalists without their knowledge through the court system. Prosecutors must also demonstrate that the records are related or potentially useful to “extraordinary” circumstances like national security threats, CNN reported.

It’s unclear what the Trump administration was looking for in obtaining Starr’s records.

The longstanding and controversial practice of federal investigators secretly seizing records from journalists, under the scope of leak investigations, was widely used by the Obama administration and favored by the Trump administration as well.

Biden’s Friday comments against the action mark the strongest stance against the practice from his administration.

Hours before Biden gave his direct remarks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said ultimately, the Justice Department would have the final say.

“This President is committed, strongly, to the rights of the freedom of press as you’ve seen for decades, and standing up for the rights of journalists,” Psaki said. “And the Justice Department conveyed yesterday that they intend to meet with reporters to hear their concerns about recent notices.”

“They certainly intend to use the Holder model as their model, not the model of the last several years, but really these decisions would be up to the Justice Department,” Psaki added, referencing former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder.

The Justice Department did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Insider’s Azmi Haroun contributed to this report.

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1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones has tenure offer revoked by UNC: report

Nikole Hannah-Jones
The New York Times magazine journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones speaks at the 137th Commencement of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 16, 2021.

  • The New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones had a tenure offer revoked at UNC-Chapel Hill, according to NC Policy Watch.
  • Hannah-Jones was set to teach at the school as a Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism.
  • She is the creator of the 1619 Project, which has drawn a wave of criticism from conservatives.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

According to NC Policy Watch, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reversed its plans to offer a tenured teaching position to Nikole Hannah-Jones, the New York Times Magazine journalist and creator of the 1619 Project.

Last month, the university offered Hannah-Jones a position as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism.

However, after Hannah-Jones went through an extensive tenure process with the backing of faculty and the tenure committee, her application hit a roadblock with the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, according to NC Policy Watch.

The board of trustees is tasked with reviewing and approving tenure applications, and it declined to move forward with authorizing tenure for Hannah-Jones, who earned a master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the university.

Instead, the school has altered its offer from a tenured position to a “fixed-term position,” which would afford her the chance to be considered for tenure after five years.

“It was a work-around,” a UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees member informed NC Policy Watch this week.

After the news broke of the university hiring Hannah-Jones last month, conservative critics, who have slammed the 1619 Project as “propaganda” in its examination of race and racism in the United States, blasted the move.

Susan King, the dean of the University of North Carolina Hussman School of Journalism and Media, told NC Policy Watch of her dismay with the board’s decision.

“It’s disappointing, it’s not what we wanted, and I am afraid it will have a chilling effect,” she said.

She added: “Investigative journalists always are involved in controversies. They dig deep, and they raise questions that demand answers. Part of what they do is raise uncomfortable questions for people, institutions and systems.”

Read more: We joined the White House press corps the day masks came off. Here’s what a ‘hard pass’ and fewer restrictions mean for us – and our reporting.

Following today’s news, over 20 faculty members of the journalism school have signed a public statement asking for the university to reconsider its decision.

“We call on the university’s leadership to reaffirm its commitment to the university, its faculty, and time-honored norms and procedures, and its endorsed values of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the statement read. “The university must tenure Nikole Hannah-Jones as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism.”

Through the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigate Reporting, Hannah-Jones has sought to cultivate and retain reporters and editors of color in the field of investigative reporting, which has long had a dearth of minority journalists in its ranks in major American newsrooms.

She has garnered widespread recognition for the 1619 Project – published by The New York Times Magazine in 2019.

The project examines the legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans throughout the nation’s history. It drew the ire of Republicans who have objected to the project’s historical context and have sought to ban the body of work from being taught in schools. The 1619 Project is also said to have inspired former President Donald Trump’s push for the 1776 commission, which was established to promote “patriotic education.”

In 2017, Hannah-Jones received the highly-coveted MacArthur Fellowship, and in 2020, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the 1619 Project, among other awards.

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Twitter will reportedly launch an ad campaign to help local journalists and news outlets gain more followers on the platform

Twitter HQ in San Francisco
Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.

  • Twitter announced an ad campaign in support of local journalists and their work.
  • According to Axios, Twitter will take out 28 full-page ads in newspapers across the US.
  • The ads will point people to Twitter Lists of local reporters created the newspapers and Twitter.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Twitter will take out advertisements in 28 local newspapers across the US to encourage readers to support local journalists and news outlets, Axios first reported.

The ads will begin appearing Monday in 28 newspapers across the US, including USA Today and the McClatchy networks of local newspapers. The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Kansas City Star, are among the local papers that will run the ad, according to the Axios report, published Sunday.

“Local journalists are so incredibly important to the conversation on Twitter,” Niketa Patel, the head of print and digital news partnerships at Twitter, told Axios. “We’re viewing this as a way of ensuring that Twitter is giving local journalists a national spotlight.”

Read more: Google’s push to bring employees back to offices in September is frustrating some employees who say they’ll quit if they can’t be remote forever

The advertisements will point users toward public Twitter Lists – the social-media platform’s feature that allows users to create lists of profiles and publicly share them – that feature local reporters and newspapers, according to Axios. The advertisements will also run on the local papers’ websites.

Twitter will also promote the hashtag “FollowLocalJournalists” and ask national journalists with large followings and other prominent journalism advocacy organizations to use it to share stories authored by local journalists and published at local outlets.

The company will also host several Twitter Spaces – the company’s live audio feature that aims to rival the live audio platform Clubhouse – with journalists from around the world from countries that include India, Thailand, and Brazil, according to the report.

“We think these two products in particular are a powerful part of the way journalists can have great conversations on Twitter and build a following,” Patel told Axios of Twitter’s List and Spaces features.

The campaign will continue for the rest of the year, Twitter said, according to the report.

The news industry, and in particular already struggling local news outlets, have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, as the Columbia Journalism Review noted last year.

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More than 650 tech workers at The New York Times have formed a union to fight for more diversity, pay equity, and job security

The New York Times building is seen on June 30, 2020 in New York City.
The New York Times building.

  • More than 650 tech workers at The New York Times have formed a union called the Tech Times Guild.
  • The union said workers are facing “unexplained termination and opaque promotion processes.”
  • It’s organizing the formation with the NewsGuild union and awaiting recognition from the Times.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tech workers at The New York Times on Tuesday announced they have formed a union and asked for recognition from the publication.

The union, called the Tech Times Guild, represents more than 650 employees who work for the digital side of the company in roles such as software engineers, data analysts and product managers.

The Tech Times Guild said in a statement on Twitter that it’s organizing its formation with the NewsGuild of New York – an editorial union of more than 3,000 media workers at the Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, and other media outlets.

Tech workers weren’t included in the NewsGuild because they weren’t allowed to join. The Tech Times Guild is looking to become a separate bargaining unit from the NewsGuild. It would communicate with the Times management independently.

“As of now, we face a number of challenges, including sudden or unexplained termination, opaque promotion processes, unpaid overtime, and underinvestment in diverse representation,” the Tech Times Guild tweeted.

“Without a union, we lack the data or bargaining rights to address these issues,” it said, adding that the tech workers will be able to build digital products and platforms in a company, which is more “equitable, healthy and just.”

“At The New York Times, we have a long history of positive and productive relationships with unions, and we respect the right of all employees to decide whether or not joining a union is right for them,” The New York Times said in a statement to Insider.

“We will take time to review this request and discuss it soon with representatives of the NewsGuild,” it said, adding that the company wants to “make sure all voices are heard.”

The forming of the Tech Times Guild comes three months after more than 200 Google employees formed a union to promote inclusivity, transparency, and ensure the company acts ethically. At Amazon, there was a historic push to form the company’s first union in the US last month but workers voted against it on April 9th.

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The media landscape shifted under Silicon Valley’s feet, so now they’re trying to silence criticism they don’t like

clubhouse app
Clubhouse Drop-in audio chat app logo on the App Store is seen displayed on a phone screen in this illustration photo taken in Poland on February 3, 2021.

  • Reporter Taylor Lorenz has been targeted by billionaire tech investor Marc Andreessen.
  • Lorenz’s reporting on Andreessen and companies he’s invested, in like Clubhouse and Substack, has drawn heat from the billionaire and his allies.
  • Today’s tech elites are trying to send a message to media, all while building their own in house newsrooms.
  • Eoin Higgins is a journalist in New England.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In February, New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz made an error that led to over a month of harassment and attacks. The Styles section reporter, whose work focuses on tech and online influencer culture, was listening in on a conversation hosted by popular audio-based social media app Clubhouse – where listeners can hear the participants but can at times not identify the speaker – when she mistakenly thought she heard billionaire tech investor Marc Andreessen use an ableist slur.

The word was actually said by Ben Horowitz, the other cofounder of the venture capital firm Andreeseen Horowitz. But Lorenz posted an accusation against Andreessen before that was clear, and by the time she deleted the tweet and clarified, the damage was done.

An unrelenting harassment campaign aimed at Lorenz from Andreessen and his allies followed. At one point Andreessen joined a Clubhouse room with Holocaust denier Chuck C. Johnson ironically entitled “Taylor Lorenz Fans Only.” With 3.7 million Clubhouse followers, Andreessen’s participation was a magnet for his fans, already primed to dislike Lorenz.

A war on journalism

Andreessen’s investment into Clubhouse led to the app’s $1 billion valuation in January. In addition to investing in Clubhouse, a16z is a primary backer of newsletter service Substack, a new player in media with an eye toward overturning traditional newsrooms and giving journalists the ability to talk directly to their audience.

For Andreessen, a man with a long history of online invention, investment, and influence who jealously guards his image and tightly controls how he’s perceived, reporters like Lorenz represent a threat to his carefully crafted image. So, the billionaire tech investor is using his power to dismiss her reporting and shape public opinion.

By using these tropes and attempting to undermine Lorenz and others, Andreessen is following an established playbook from rich men who want constant public adulation and power but refuse to tolerate criticism or deviation from their preferred narrative. Billionaires using their clout and power to agitate for better coverage in the press is a longstanding practice of the wealthy and powerful. The ultrarich have long meddled with the media and attempted to shape newsrooms to the benefit of the elite.

In the modern era there have been figures who push their agenda through a direct media empire, like Rupert Murdoch – owner of News Corp – has made billions pushing the English-speaking world to the right through a number of outlets. Or magnates from other industries getting into media to project their worldview and protect their business interests, like the late casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who bought the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2015.

Today this age-old tactic has come to Silicon Valley. After over a decade of largely friendly and positive coverage from the tech press, a shift in how the industry is reported on has generated a backlash from company boardrooms and venture capital firms. In one of the most notorious cases, financier Peter Thiel’s successful vendetta against the website Gawker, the site was shuttered. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, regularly attacks journalists that don’t toe the line. Amazon sends demands to reporters that they include PR lines in investigative articles on warehouse conditions.

Beyond just attacking, Silicon Valley’s wealthy have also gotten directly involved with media interests around the country. For example, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. The paper’s reporting on Amazon has seemed to pull punches in the past and at times has promoted an ideological agenda that supports the financial interests of its billionaire founder.

Now a16z seems to be taking an approach somewhere between Thiel’s outright attacks and Bezos’ absorption of legacy media. In addition to investments in alternative platforms like Substack and Clubhouse, the first is creating their own alternative media landscape, launching an in-house media venture to compete with tech-focused outlets – but with its content presumably under the auspices and control of the founders. The new outlet will have a clear editorial voice, according to a January 25 press release from a16z partner Margit Wennmachers, that sees the general mission of Silicon Valley as a societal good.

“Our lens is rational optimism about technology and the future,” Wennmachers wrote. “We believe that it’s better to be alive after the industrial revolution than in an agrarian society.”

Big Tech’s real mission

There’s a rather simple explanation for the actions of Andreessen, Thiel, et al. They’re not so much interested in obtaining positive coverage – though that’s certainly a consideration – they more want to reshape the institution of the media to their benefit.

There’s nothing wrong, per se, with wanting to shake up the staid institution of the American press, which doesn’t have a lot to offer readers interested in affliction of the powerful. These new media platforms like Clubhouse and Substack offer new, innovative, and needed ways for writers to reach their audiences. That’s all to the good, but is hardly the extent of the ambitions of the ultra-rich tech lords.

The diverse ecosystem of independent media that has sprung up over the past decade is profitable – for company heads, investors, and the content creators at the top. And what the tech billionaires want is a subservient press that doesn’t question Silicon Valley and the opinions and beliefs of the wealthy investors who power the tech sector. It’s not a coincidence that the targets of tand their hanger ons are people whose reporting has exposed issues of concern for the public around tech that Silicon Valley would prefer to keep quiet.

The attacks on Lorenz and others are designed to make reporters more hesitant to report on Silicon Valley’s most powerful, to add another deterring factor to the consideration of whether to chase a story. It’s not about “fairness,” it’s about power – and who gets to wield it.

Eoin Higgins is a journalist in New England. His work has also appeared in the Washington Post, The Intercept, Vice News, and many other outlets. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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A Twitter and Roblox user posing as a White House reporter snuck in 4 questions to press secretary Jen Psaki

white house press secretary jen psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

  • A Twitter and Roblox user posing as a correspondent snuck 4 questions into White House briefings.
  • The individual emailed questions to White House pool reporters using an array of invented journalist titles.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Twitter and Roblox user who posed as a White House Correspondents Association member managed to land four questions in recent Biden administration briefings, Politico reported.

Politico’s Christopher Cadelago found that the individual – who goes by the name Kacey Montagu – successfully snuck in questions to press secretary Jen Psaki by emailing White House pool reporters using an array of invented journalist titles.

Some reporters declined to pass along Montagu’s inquiries. But correspondents at publications like the The Plain Dealer and CQ Roll Call followed through on the requests, asking Psaki questions on topics like COVID-19 travel bans and the president’s reaction to Microsoft being hacked.

Montagu used various aliases in emails to pool reporters, Cadelago reported. Sometimes the aliases identified as a White House correspondent at an outlet called “WHN.” Other times they named themselves as a political correspondent at an entity called “WHSG.” And in at least one instance, they claimed they were a reporter at The Daily Mail.

Montagu, whose true identity is unknown to Insider, built credibility among White House reporters and staff by starting two political news accounts on Twitter, @WHschedule and @WHpoolreport. Montagu has had several exchanges with White House officials, Cadelago reported.

The internet-savvy user appears to have a general interest in politics. In addition to running two White House-focused Twitter accounts, acquaintances of Montagu told Cadelago that they would spend time in a section of the virtual world Roblox where users role-play as US government officials.

“I love journalism, and I think the Press Corps is doing a pretty bad job at the moment, so I decided I would ensure some transparency and ask some questions me and some friends wanted the answer to,” the person Cadelago identified as Montagu wrote in an email to Politico.

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3 Black queer journalists share their advice for breaking into the journalism industry and what publications should do better to recruit minority employees

Daric L Cottingham interview
(L-R) Tre’vell Anderson, Cerise Castle, Femi Redwood.

  • Regardless of any sudden DEI efforts made in 2020, journalist Daric L. Cottingham says the media industry has a long way to go to promote diversity. 
  • Cottingham interviewed three Black LGBTQ journalists on lessons they’ve learned breaking into the media industry.
  • The group also shared their thoughts on how publications can better recruit and retain Black queer journalists.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As the spike of police brutality targeted at Black people became a constant headline in 2020, the world began to listen to concerns of structural racism and bias, especially in professional settings. 

Daric Cottingham Headshot 2021
Daric L. Cottingham.

Many industries started to examine their racist pasts. Journalism in particular began to reckon with the lack of diversity in newsrooms, and the racist rhetoric it used in coverage of diverse communities.

These “reckonings” felt like an empty PR attempt, since the same behaviors are still present at many publications in 2021 

Despite these “attempts,” we’re left with a lingering question of how can journalism actively change to be as diverse as the communities it reports on. One way is to hire diverse candidates with intersecting identities, such as Black queer journalists who navigate the industry with the added stress of implicit bias rooted in racism and queerphobia.  

I spoke with three Black queer journalists about the lessons they’ve learned navigating the journalism job market.

Cerise Castle .JPG
Cerise Castle.

Cerise Castle (she/her) is a Black lesbian multimedia journalist who’s produced and hosted segments for VICE News Tonight, Los Angeles NPR affiliate KCRW, and Wondery. 

Tre'vell Anderson headshot 2021.JPG
Tre’vell Anderson.

Tre’vell Anderson (they/them) is a Black queer, non-binary person of trans experience, the president of the National Association of Black Journalists of Los Angeles, co-chair of NABJ’s LGBTQ Task Force, and editor-at-large at Xtra Magazine.

Femi Redwood headsshot 2021
Femi Redwood.

Femi Redwood (she/her) is a Black lesbian TV news anchor who most recently reported for VICE News on intersectional issues including race, gender, and LGBTQ identities. She’s a board member of NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists and a co-chair NABJ’s LGBTQ Task Force.

Here’s what they had to say, including advice they have for young Black queer journalists trying to break into the industry and advice for publications to better recruit and retain these diverse journalists. 

What was one lesson you learned as a Black, queer journalist? 

Cerise Castle: The hardest lesson I think is the fastest one you learn: that your voice and ideas will probably always be counted last. I think that’s a valuable lesson because I think it’s helpful to go in knowing the reality of most newsrooms and how most outlets work. Unfortunately, I think it’s a reality that you have to accept most of the time.

Tre’vell Anderson: A lesson that I’ve learned as a Black, queer journalist is that, just because my editor doesn’t understand the importance of a particular story, doesn’t mean that story shouldn’t be told. As Black, queer, trans folks, as folks from a marginalized, less represented community in newsrooms, often the stories that we want to tell about our communities don’t hold that same weight. Or don’t seem as necessary or worthy to our editors, who are white folk more often than not.

Femi Redwood: Pay attention to the media group because it may have more control in how the station or the publication handles things than the individual entity you will work for. If it’s a problematic station group, you don’t want to work there.

What advice do you have for young Black, queer journalists trying to break into the industry?

Castle: I would say not to change yourself for the industry. I had a college professor who told me that to be on camera, I had to have shoulder-length hair and couldn’t wear it naturally. I couldn’t have piercings or do my makeup a certain way. And all of that, just … It isn’t true. 

Granted, there will be some news directors that will force you into that box, but you can always be yourself. The first on-camera job that I got picked me because they liked my curly hair and liked that I bleached it. They liked that I had facial piercings. They liked that I didn’t look just like every other reporter from central casting. Playing into your identity can help you out in many situations, to get that job, and to get the story too.

Anderson: My advice to Black queer journalists, emerging and coming into the industry and those that are fairly established, is to remain undaunted as we navigate these spaces. Follow your heart, follow your gut, follow your intense desire to tell your community’s stories, even when the broader media ecosystem, or your editor, or whomever tells you that those stories don’t have any worth. 

It’s important to build an identity outside of the news organizations that we might work for and beyond the work we do because being a journalist is a thankless job in many ways. Still, it’s a very necessary job at the same time.

Redwood: My one piece of advice to queer Black journalists is to go into every situation as if you were a straight white man. It’s been my recent guiding principle. 

Often we are told we need to accept anything, accept any pay, and accept any position. We are told that unless we check off certain boxes – years of experience, education, awards, etc. – we don’t deserve more. Nah. 

Be like straight white men. They are socialized to expect what they believe they deserve. Young queer Black journos need to do that as well. We often see straight white men “fail up” while we tell ourselves, ‘we aren’t ready for a new position, we don’t deserve a raise, or haven’t earned a promotion.’ 

You deserve that job even if you only worked on your college paper; you deserve that pay even if you didn’t go to what’s considered a top j-school, you deserve that promotion even if you haven’t earned any awards, because why not you.

What can publications do to better recruit and retain Black, queer journalists?

Castle: Pay them. That’s all, that’s my answer. Pay them what they’re worth, more than they’re worth.

Anderson: What these people need to do to recruit more Black queer journalists is the same thing they need to do to recruit more Black journalists, right? They have to get out of their own way and get out of our way. 

Many folks hiring and recruiting reporters aren’t doing intentional outreach to groups of color, to 1) Let us know the available opportunities, and 2) Give us the same kind of level playing field that our white counterparts have. 

It also requires you to not only augment and change your recruiting habits, but you also need to change your retention practices because once you hire a Black person, you need to make sure that the work environment is one they will want to stay at your company. 

That might mean that some people on the team need to leave because they’re toxic, or they’re white supremacists, or they’re racist, or they’re homophobic, or transphobic.

Redwood: It’s all a big circle. And all of these things work hand in hand. To recruit Black queer journalists, you have to create a place they want to work. Because if the environment is homophobic or full of racist microaggressions, then Black folks aren’t going to want to work there. 

The next thing is to create paid internships. Expecting journalists to work for free, it’s a form of gatekeeping that unfortunately prevents many Black and brown and queer journalists from getting in. Because statistically speaking, we don’t have the same wealth as white counterparts.

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Why Facebook blocked all news content in Australia – and why Google didn’t

Sundar Pichai Mark Zuckerberg
  • Australia wants to pass a bill forcing Facebook and Google to pay news publishers for their content.
  • In response, Facebook banned news content in the country, while Google made deals with publishers.
  • But the situation is much more complicated. Here’s what you need to know.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Facebook made huge waves on Wednesday by blocking all news content for its Australian users and all content from Australian news publishers for users worldwide. 

Facebook said it made the move to avoid having to comply with Australia’s recently proposed News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, which if passed would require companies like Facebook and Google to pay media publishers for the right to include their news content on social media platforms and search engines.

Google, however, decided that its best option would be to preemptively negotiate deals with publishers, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and major Australian media conglomerates Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media.

Australian lawmakers have portrayed the proposed law as an effort to curb the tech giants’ power over digital advertising (a major cause of news publishers’ declining revenues over the past two decades). Facebook argued that the law misunderstands its relationship with publishers. 

But the situation is more complicated than an attempt to level the digital media playing field – and it could have consequences around the world.

Here’s what you need to know about the battle between Australia, Facebook, and Google over who pays for news online.

How did we get here?

News publishers have long had a bone to pick with companies like Facebook and Google, blaming them for eating away at ad revenues (and as a result, journalism jobs), while also exercising massive control over publishers through algorithms and benefitting from showing their users news content without paying its creators.

The companies have responded in recent years with various initiatives to fund journalism and boost news content on their platforms, such as Facebook’s Journalism Project and News tab, and Google’s News Initiative and News Showcase, but the impact has been modest and the industry continues to struggle.

Increasingly, regulators have sought to force Facebook and Google to pay publishers to use their content, and Australia has been at the forefront, along with the EU and countries including France, Germany, and Spain.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the country’s top antitrust regulator, has been working toward the law at the center of this week’s controversy for around three years amid Australia’s broader push to crack down on big tech.

What would Australia’s proposed law do?

The law as currently proposed would require companies like Facebook and Google to pay Australian publishers directly for news content that’s displayed or linked to on their sites, as well as give publishers 28 days’ notice before changing their algorithms.

Specifically, it would require them to individually negotiate content prices with publishers within three months, or be forced into an arbitration process where a government-appointed panel will pick between the publisher and tech giants’ proposals.

Is it likely to pass?

Yes. The lower chamber of Australia’s parliament approved the proposed legislation this week, and it’s now headed to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass into law, though discussions between the companies and the government are still ongoing.

Who would be the likely winners and losers?

As the Syndey Morning Herald reported, smaller publishers are not eligible for payments under the proposed law, so large publishers like News Corp may end up benefitting the most. (News Corp has urged the Australian government to pass the law).

Reporter Casey Newton also pointed out that the law also doesn’t require publishers to spend any new revenue on reporters or newsgathering efforts, meaning it could go to executives or investors.

Facebook’s and Google’s competitors could also gain an edge if their market share is diminished – Microsoft President Brad Smith endorsed the law last week.

As a result, the law could inadvertently further entrench Facebook’s and Google’s dominance, though it’s unclear what the ultimate impact would be on news publishers or the broader media ecosystem.

What was Facebook’s response? 

Facebook said in a blog post that the law “fundamentally misunderstands” its relationship with publishers – which it argued benefits publishers more. Facebook said news content is “less than 4% of the content people see” and that it brought in around $315 million for Australian publishers in 2020.

With less to lose, in its view, Facebook pulled the plug.

On Wednesday (Thursday in Australia), Facebook blocked Australian publishers from sharing or posting content from their pages, blocked Australian users from viewing any news content at all (even from international publishers), and blocked all users worldwide from viewing content from Australian publishers.

Some non-news pages also got caught up in Facebook’s dragnet by mistake.

What was Google’s response?

Alphabet subsidiary Google, which arguably has a more even exchange of value with news publishers, has fought aggressively against the proposed law. In January, the company came under fire for hiding some Australian news sites from its search results.

Google this week has been working on massive deals with top Australian media companies Seven West, Nine Entertainment, and even News Corp, which the company has repeatedly sparred with, and has been expanding its News Showcase in the region.

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If we care about a free press, we must defend Assange

FILE PHOTO: A supporter of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange posts a sign on the Woolwich Crown Court fence, ahead of a hearing to decide whether Assange should be extradited to the United States, in London, Britain February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
A judge will rule on January 4, 2021 on whether Assange should be extradited to the US.

  • The US wants to extradite Julian Assange from the UK to face unprecedented charges for publishing government documents leaked by Chelsea Manning in 2010.
  • The indictment could put Assange in prison for 175 years and could mark the end of First Amendment protections on journalism everywhere.
  • Prosecuting Assange for exposing war crimes and human rights abuses is a threat to free speech, press freedoms, the public’s right to know, and the ability to hold our government accountable.
  • Ben Cohen is an activist, businessman, and cofounder of Ben and Jerry’s. He divides his time between AssangeDefense.org, @DropTheMic2020, and working to end qualified immunity.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With each passing day, it becomes more obvious that President Donald Trump views the media as his enemy. But with the pandemic, criminal justice reform, the presidential election, and now COVID-19 relief bill talks dominating headlines, little attention has been paid to the long-term damage caused by Trump’s hatred of a free press.

Right now, Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks, is facing an extradition trial in England because Trump’s Justice Department has hit him with an unprecedented indictment – seeking 175 years in prison for what experts consider customary newsgathering and publishing activities. 

The Trump Justice Department is seeking to criminalize WikiLeaks’ revelations that exposed war crimes, civilian casualties, torture, illegal surveillance, government lies, and corporate corruption. While the US government misled the country into tragic wars and concealed its actions, brave whistleblowers turned to WikiLeaks to share the truth with the public. For their efforts, WikiLeaks and Assange have received numerous journalism and human rights awards

Charging Assange sets a dangerous precedent for the freedom of press

I had the privilege of meeting Assange during his time in the Ecuadorian embassy. Assange cares deeply about the public’s right to know what governments do in their name. He cares about peace. He thought that by bringing this information to light, he could make the world a better place by bringing an end to foolish wars. Call him naive if you want, but he is not our enemy. The world needs individuals with Assange’s passion and commitment to truth.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Ben Wizner warns that the charges against Assange are “an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration’s attacks on journalism, and a direct assault on the First Amendment.”

The Trump Justice Department and its defenders rationalize this assault on press freedom with smoke and mirrors. They distract the public by changing the subject with what Noam Chomsky and Alice Walker call “inconsequential personality profiles.” They downplay the danger of this indictment by suggesting that Assange is not a journalist. Even if you ignore the countless journalism awards WikiLeaks received and the full-throated condemnation of the charges from journalism organizations, this rhetorical sleight of hand is easy to see through. WikiLeaks is a journalistic enterprise that takes a more transparent approach than most, providing readers with curated source documents alongside more conventional reporting.  

These semantic arguments over whether someone is a journalist or not miss the point. Journalism isn’t about where you work. It’s about what you do. Trevor Timm, founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, testified at Assange’s extradition: “In the US, the First Amendment protects everyone. Whether you consider Assange a journalist doesn’t matter, he was engaging in journalistic activity.” Most importantly, the conduct Assange has been indicted for is textbook “journalistic behavior“: communicating with sources and gathering, possessing, and publishing sensitive information. 

The danger of criminalizing journalistic behavior extends far beyond WikiLeaks. This is why the Obama Justice Department did not indict Assange. They “looked hard” at him, but decided that charging Assange would create a “New York Times problem” – opening up to prosecution all news organizations who receive leaks or publish stories based on them.

Experts agree that a successful prosecution of Assange would undermine the First Amendment, and would particularly cripple investigative journalism. All journalism aims to inform the public, but what makes investigative journalism so vital to democracy is its power to inform us about what is deliberately hidden from our view.

Criminalizing journalism is ‘killing the messenger’

The saying “don’t kill the messenger” is as old as civilization itself, but we forget to take it to heart sometimes. People blast the bearers of bad news for “blaming America,” as if being honest with ourselves is something shameful. Greatness depends on our willingness to look ourselves in the mirror and right the wrongs in our lives and in our society.

Without a free press shining light on the government, we are unable to hold our government accountable. Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are necessary for us to form opinions and choose leaders. Without the information that a free press provides, we can only stumble around in the dark, blind to the realities of the world and the conduct of our government. A blind public is unable to see society’s problems, let alone fix them.

If we care about a free press, we must defend Assange

The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward’s revelations that Trump misled the public on the dangers of COVID-19 should serve as a stark reminder of the important role journalists play in our democracy. And the reports that Trump offered Assange a pardon if he would publicly exonerate his campaign (and Russia) over the DNC leaks are a huge red flag. 

If the reports are true, then Assange chose to not lie for Trump, and as a result he is now the first journalist in our history to be indicted for publishing truthful information. You don’t have to like Assange personally or be happy with the stories WikiLeaks has broken, but if we care about a free press, we must defend Assange.

As we transition to a new administration, we should remember the previous one. The Obama-Biden record on war, transparency, and whistleblowers was not perfect, but President Obama respected democracy. He did not make the press his enemy. And even though the WikiLeaks disclosures embarrassed his administration, Obama showed restraint by not prosecuting Assange.

All citizens, regardless of their politics, should be outraged. But I don’t want to tell people that they should be outraged; I want to give them information that makes them outraged – that their government is escalating its war on journalism. 

After all, a war on journalists is not just a war on the messenger. It is a war on some of America’s most important legal, cultural, and political traditions. It is a war on our right to know and our ability to participate in important debates. It’s a war on democracy itself. 

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