More voices mean better information

“Actual diversity is about including ‘others’ in the conversation, about them becoming a part of us.”

A journalism and media environment that is more diverse and more inclusive. That’s the path we hope the media takes in 2021, and a goal that we at Chicas Poderosas are working toward.

This year, Black Lives Matter, the pandemic, protests in Latin America, and other events have sparked conversations about equality and inclusiveness. And though this debate has reached journalism, there’s a lot more to be discussed in terms of actual diversity in the media.

At Chicas Poderosas, we worked on three collaborative journalism projects in five different countries this year to tell underrepresented stories of how the pandemic affected different populations. We found that, for all the media coverage the coronavirus got, there were multiple pandemics that were not reported on. Covid-19 and the ensuing confinement meant completely different things for somebody living in a big city doing deliveries in Colombia, for people from an indigenous community in Bolivia, for a sex worker in Latin America, for trans women in the south of Argentina, for a journalist and mother in Ecuador, and for women and adolescents who menstruate in Venezuela.

The best and only way to tell these stories is by including the people who live them — those who experience these situations — in our teams. In Los Derechos no se Aíslan, the collaborative investigation we did in Argentina, we opened a call and recruited one reporter in each of the country’s 24 jurisdictions. We understood that it would be them who’d be able to tell us what was happening there, not a journalist based in the capital. The team was made up of women journalists and we made an effort to have at least 10 percent of reporters who identify as LGBTQI+. Who could be better suited to tell the stories of women and LBGTQI+ people than themselves?

In the case of the Resonar Mediathon, which we organized with UNESCO, we chose 100 people to participate in this collaborative journalism marathon to tell stories of how the pandemic affected vulnerable populations in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The participants came from 39 municipalities; 11 percent identified as belonging to indigenous groups and 10 percent identified as LGBTQI+. Once again, it was those who live in these realities being the ones to report on them.

As we finally come to terms with the fact that the premise of objectivity and neutrality is obsolete, we also need to acknowledge that journalists and people who work in media are humans and that they are subjective. Though they can make an attempt to recognize their own biases, they will always be reporting from a certain point of view.

Journalists’ work is inspired, informed, and influenced by the conversations they have, the people they engage with, the things they read, and the place where they live. Their identities and realities affect how they see and understand the world. Even more, they influence what they see and what they don’t, and, of course, they shape their reporting, from the topics they cover, to the way they cover them.

That’s why promoting diversity is not about being politically correct, about filling quotas (as necessary as they might be to start being more inclusive), or about tokenism. Actual diversity is about including “others” in the conversation, about them becoming a part of us. It’s also about providing complete information with an intersectional approach, about telling more stories — about telling the whole story.

Only when we change who makes the news and sets the agenda can we start to see a more complete reality. And only then can we start pushing for actual change. Only when it’s us — all of us — doing journalism, when more voices are heard, we can be properly informed.

Chicas Poderosas is a Latin American initiative focused on advancing the work of Latin American women journalists online.

A journalism and media environment that is more diverse and more inclusive. That’s the path we hope the media takes in 2021, and a goal that we at Chicas Poderosas are working toward.

This year, Black Lives Matter, the pandemic, protests in Latin America, and other events have sparked conversations about equality and inclusiveness. And though this debate has reached journalism, there’s a lot more to be discussed in terms of actual diversity in the media.

At Chicas Poderosas, we worked on three collaborative journalism projects in five different countries this year to tell underrepresented stories of how the pandemic affected different populations. We found that, for all the media coverage the coronavirus got, there were multiple pandemics that were not reported on. Covid-19 and the ensuing confinement meant completely different things for somebody living in a big city doing deliveries in Colombia, for people from an indigenous community in Bolivia, for a sex worker in Latin America, for trans women in the south of Argentina, for a journalist and mother in Ecuador, and for women and adolescents who menstruate in Venezuela.

The best and only way to tell these stories is by including the people who live them — those who experience these situations — in our teams. In Los Derechos no se Aíslan, the collaborative investigation we did in Argentina, we opened a call and recruited one reporter in each of the country’s 24 jurisdictions. We understood that it would be them who’d be able to tell us what was happening there, not a journalist based in the capital. The team was made up of women journalists and we made an effort to have at least 10 percent of reporters who identify as LGBTQI+. Who could be better suited to tell the stories of women and LBGTQI+ people than themselves?

In the case of the Resonar Mediathon, which we organized with UNESCO, we chose 100 people to participate in this collaborative journalism marathon to tell stories of how the pandemic affected vulnerable populations in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The participants came from 39 municipalities; 11 percent identified as belonging to indigenous groups and 10 percent identified as LGBTQI+. Once again, it was those who live in these realities being the ones to report on them.

As we finally come to terms with the fact that the premise of objectivity and neutrality is obsolete, we also need to acknowledge that journalists and people who work in media are humans and that they are subjective. Though they can make an attempt to recognize their own biases, they will always be reporting from a certain point of view.

Journalists’ work is inspired, informed, and influenced by the conversations they have, the people they engage with, the things they read, and the place where they live. Their identities and realities affect how they see and understand the world. Even more, they influence what they see and what they don’t, and, of course, they shape their reporting, from the topics they cover, to the way they cover them.

That’s why promoting diversity is not about being politically correct, about filling quotas (as necessary as they might be to start being more inclusive), or about tokenism. Actual diversity is about including “others” in the conversation, about them becoming a part of us. It’s also about providing complete information with an intersectional approach, about telling more stories — about telling the whole story.

Only when we change who makes the news and sets the agenda can we start to see a more complete reality. And only then can we start pushing for actual change. Only when it’s us — all of us — doing journalism, when more voices are heard, we can be properly informed.

Chicas Poderosas is a Latin American initiative focused on advancing the work of Latin American women journalists online.

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