This is the third installment in “How Does it Feel to be a Solution,” SJN’s new blog series on solutions journalism and social inequity. The series is exploring the ways in which race, class, gender, and a host of other intersections affect how we think about and cover responses to social problems. Read more about the series here and find all the pieces in the series on the right, under the Category “Be a Solution.”
Some journalists choose their profession because they want to change the world.
Sure, for some reporters, editors and producers, the thrill of breaking stories or a passion for the process of storytelling led to their career choice. For others, a personal interest or concern, like the environment or mental health, became a beat.
Similarly, for more than a few people of color, the opportunity to be of service to one’s community is a major factor that calls them to this work.
I get it. I’m a black woman who is most fulfilled as a journalist when writing about issues that affect people of African descent. I am not suggesting that journalists of color should feel as if it’s their duty to cover their own racial or ethnic group. And they certainly shouldn’t be assigned to do Asian, Latino, Native, Middle Eastern or black stories because they happen to share a particular identity.
But if reporting about your community motivates you, more power to you.
Because I know I’m not the only journalist of color who feels this way, I’d love to introduce solutions journalism to as many others as possible. Frankly, one of the reasons I was excited to discover the Solutions Journalism Network and its mission was that I immediately recognized its potential to positively impact historically disadvantaged populations. As defined on this website, “Solutions journalism is critical and clear-eyed reporting that investigates and explains credible responses to social problems.”
The coverage of responses to problems that exist among particular groups is already happening. It’s no secret that some racial and ethnic groups experience disproportionately high levels of poverty, poor health and myriad other standard-of-living indicators. Not surprisingly, when journalists report on solutions to common societal problems, by default they often cover responses relevant to people of color.
What’s not happening to any significant degree so far in the short history of solutions journalism is coverage of responses to racial inequality itself. In addition to reporting on solutions to specific problems, I’d love to see reporting on the broader issues of inequity and institutional racism that created many of these conditions in the first place.
There are organizations and initiatives addressing racism that may have interesting, important stories worth telling. A quick Google search turns up groups like the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites in Seattle and Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training in Matteson, Ill. The 15th annual White Privilege Conference was held over five days in March of this year. It’s easy to identify reputable scholars who are potential expert sources like Joe Feagin, and other resources such as Racial Equity Tools and World Trust.