Standing up for us and for each other

“We’ll stop using objectivity as an excuse for a weak and lazy narrative and step forcefully into giving voice to those who are perpetually harmed and ignored. We’ll be brutally fair and speak up, especially against bullies.”

Despite a devastating blow to journalism post-election, this has been an inspiring opportunity for us to have humility, listen better to our audiences better, and take a stand for our audiences and our work. We, with our audiences, are taking steps towards reversing the normalization of a toxic public discourse. Case in point: #MeToo.

The #MeToo movement has been for me an unexpected, most perfect, and poignant nexus of high-quality journalism and the public discourse, namely on social media. Powerful, compelling investigative reporting culminated in (and worked in tandem with) the shifting of a longstanding public narrative inclined to shame survivors and cover for perpetrators. As an industry, we’ve also been reckoning with the ways in which our own culture has perpetuated misogynistic, abusive behavior.

It’s powerful when journalists and news organizations aren’t afraid to take a stand: reminding the public that we are on their side, and we won’t compromise the truth by refusing to shine a light on our own skeletons. We do it by listening with integrity and vigilantly seeking the truth. We do it by acknowledging that our platforms are tools of power and admit how our very own used them as weapons against the vulnerable.

This is where repairing trust between communities and news organizations begins.

In 2018, I expect news organizations and audiences to remember these lessons and get brave again on how we do our work together:

— We’ll stop using objectivity as an excuse for a weak and lazy narrative and step forcefully into giving voice to those who are perpetually harmed and ignored. We’ll be brutally fair and speak up, especially against bullies. We’ll recognize and uplift courage when we see it.

— We’re going to get smarter about working with social media platforms to get in front of what we do best — telling stories well and truthfully — and know that this is the first step to a long-sustaining relationship with our communities.

— We’ll self-reflect and be confident enough to admit our own mistakes and failings. And we’ll do better.

2018 will be the year journalism gets its swagger again in the face of an anti-media administration and an audience feeling the pain of this toxic public conversation. I still bet on humanity, and I have already seen strong signs of journalism’s role in restoring my faith in humanity this past year.

Jennifer Choi is associate director for strategic partnerships at the News Integrity Initiative.

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