It’s my belief the outcome of the 2016 election will be the genesis of a new form of journalist and journalism. The ill-equipped manner in which the media interacted with the populace and unduly influenced the election has led to the birth of a rebellion for what will be a new journalistic movement in 2017. The author wishes to caution readers that many of the ideas presented might be construed as advocacy or activism, but in an age of fake news, does it really matter?
The rebel journalist is someone who, armed with a chosen medium or space, will use their sacred privilege to research and disseminate the purest form of democratic truth and justice, free from restriction. Here is the rebel journalists’ manifesto:
- The rebel will rise against all forms of prejudice and hate, including racism, homophobia, sexism, bigotry, misogyny, nativism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, ignorance, intolerance, politicism, monolithic ideology, self-righteousness, and venality.
- The rebel will redefine news, journalism, storytelling, and independent models. News is not journalism if what’s being reported is only meant to extract value from communities as opposed to creating value within them. Rebels will seek out new ways to better connect and engage with their communities, but not solely via technology. They understand that many communities across the nation lack digital connectivity and access to high-speed Internet, and often time the mobile device is the sole computer in the home.
- Rebels will operate without a nom de plume and will be authentic to themselves and their audiences without acquiescing to anyone or anything. They will be transparent and cognizant of their personal and organizational biases, leverage their privilege for the common good, and be open to fierce criticism — all in the name of offering unwavering service to their communities.
- Rebels will listen with love and empathy, and create content that drives actions. Rebels will be the beacons and illustrators of solutions, not just illuminators or disseminators of problems. They will be the arbiters and conveners of substantive conversations and debates, surrogates, utilities, and pathfinders for new forms of diverse and civic engagement. Rebels will not just raise their clenched fists, but also grab their pens, cameras, and microphones, to clear the thicketed fields of brush, noise, rhetoric, and perhaps the greatest undermining challenge we face — news fakery.
- The rebel will also rebel against the owned voice, the public media/NPR/PBS sound, the Ron Burgundys, the-colder-than-Siberia-studio-based-three-camera-airbrushed-skin-detail-minus-seven-Best Buy-flat-panel-topias-of-three-point-lighting, the saccharin-tonedeafness of poorly written, culturally anemic headlines, the copy-and-paste of audio scripts for the web, the host banter, awful segues, throws to live-dead newscasts of stereotyped crime scenes from hours, days, and years ago, and the billboarding of any news as “the most-trusted source.” These are all examples of rusty hooks and relics of the lingua franca of ancient Mesopotamia, lost on audiences who no longer watch and/or listen and perhaps never have and don’t care. Rebels get the best stories without the bells and whistles of sterility. Rebels like keeping it pure.
- Rebels will rebel from the left, the right, the center, and from any alt position, for these boxes do not provide audiences with enough context and impact related to the actual intention and actions of such words, which create deep divides, subjugation, and polarization. Rebels seek adventure. They enter the belly of the beast, and will often traverse to the other side when it is the least comfortable or safe. We must rebel against journalistic and political politeness and become insubordinate to position and power, as these are requirements of real democracy.
- Rebels must rebel against journalism’s institutional and structural racism. We must fight against the platitudes of diversity; all of its exoticness and pornographic otherness. Diversity is neither abstract nor finite; it is complex and infinite. One cannot act upon diversity without inclusion, or inclusion without diversity. They are not mutually exclusive. Rebels understand the value of diverse opinions and will not shunt themselves from difference, or become a patsy to conformity. The rebel will champion mentorship and ceaselessly foster the next generation of voices, journalists, and storytellers.
- Rebels are not immortal. They must practice self-preservation and be whole mentally, physically, and spiritually. The rebel knows that the work of a rebel is taxing. Rebels should consume the works of their peers and competitors voraciously to expand their horizons. It is important to eat healthy, and lessen dependency on foods, drugs, or any crutches used for comfort, to be as clear-minded as possible. Rebels should also learn self-defense techniques, as many of the environments in which they may operate will require them to be trained to handle volatile, fluid, and dynamic situations. The rebel should have a belief in something much bigger than himself or herself, a higher power, from which to seek constant guidance and knowledge. Rebels belong to a community, and should seek out other rebels when they traverse the world in pursuit of their work. Rebels must open their homes, provide safe a passage when other rebels call for help or ask for assistance, and do so generously.
- The act of rebellion is the truest form and test of democracy and being a rebel journalist is the result of an indivisible calling. The reward for being a rebel is renewed vitality, energy, and a spirit rooted in daily consciousness, knowing that you’ve done everything possible to make the world a better place for all humankind.