Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

“Journalism is punch-drunk and staggering, convinced that still being on its feet is the same as putting up a fight.”

I want everyone to be proud of me that I didn’t begin this with a string of epithets and pejoratives.

I don’t want to be eloquent and visionary. I want to be direct. So I’m gonna use boxing and the Dungeon Family.

We are losing a slugfest that we don’t have to, because we spent so much time trying to separate from the people and communities we write for that we keep trying to have a “dialogue” in the middle of Round 4.

We are in a fight and, frankly, we’re probably gonna lose. Our inability to clearly and openly discuss the reality of the moment and the history of the practice, development, and power of journalism left us open. They hit journalism with everything they had, every chance they had.

From “fake news” being decontextualized from propaganda, to objectivity becoming an excuse for a complete dereliction of duty. Rather than asking questions, naked careerism and “access” made our storied profession a game.

Clicks and constantly moving (and often ultimately unimportant) metrics had millions of dollars chasing technology goals that were ultimately inaccessible to most of our audience.

The people in our corner. The people who told us again and again they wanted to be heard. Who supported hyperlocal news while windmilling legacy papers sacrificed credibility over and over.

Non-diverse, complacent newsrooms have codes for behavior on social media that silence the marginalized, but they can’t recognize the conflict of interest that social contact with millionaire-financed right-wingers creates.

And they had the nerve to demand they be respected while reporting on a trick many audiences had seen years ago.

Journalism is punch-drunk and staggering, convinced that still being on its feet is the same as putting up a fight. As audiences, experts, academics, and our constantly shifting platforms desperately try to stem the blood flowing from the open cut over our eyes.

Go listen to “Watch for the Hook (Dungeon Family Remix)” by Cool Breeze. From picking up our pencils, to actively realizing the danger we are in, ATL’s Dungeon Family has laid a template for what we need to do next.

Whether we listen to it or not is up to us, but we are shook, and whether we come back is dependent on us realizing we need the perspectives that see danger before we do while they still care to tell us.

Better listen to our corner. Because the bell for Round 5 just rung. Ding ding.

Sydette Harry is editor-at-large of The Coral Project and an editor at the Mozilla Foundation.

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