My own professional background is in racial equity organizing, cause-marketing, education, and independent journalism. As a journalist, I have focused on reporting on and within marginalized communities. Specifically, I have created news stories that primarily pertain to political organizing and decision-making, food systems, and police brutality. Though still near the beginning of my journalism career, I have endeavored to focus my own journalism within a social justice frame. Currently, I am completely focused on becoming a better journalist and creating meaningful journalistic news within that social justice frame. Thus, the “Embedded Journalism for Social Justice Reporting” program was envisioned.
As a community organizer, I have often been hired to do cause-marketing. Because of this, I have come to understand the cautious and particularly complicated relationship between community organizing and independent journalism. I have also come to understand the unique dependency they have on each other. This program dispels any notion that separates the purpose and work of community organizing and independent journalism.
This program seeks a new relationship between independent journalism and community organizing. This relationship aims to shift the balance of power not away from equality but towards a balance of context, accountability, knowledge-production, and knowledge-sharing. Very simply it aims to create justice-framed journalism, connecting marginalized communities, investigating and contextualizing social movements and oppression, from the spaces between (but within) social movements. This project is not aimed at mainstream audiences; its audience is members and allies of marginalized communities.
It is my own experience that independent journalism within marginalized communities struggles to sustain itself meaningfully. Community organizing, however, can sustain itself only be recreating or participating in the very systems it seeks to dismantle. This project proposes a type of independent journalism for and by low-income individuals and communities of color. This journalism exists within the fight for justice, though it behaves like a separate entity. It seeks to create a more sustainable independent journalism for individuals and organizations in order to hold social movements account to their work and their values.
This project has several key components: research-oriented, education, and experiential. It is very important to remember that this is an idea still in its infancy, although I am fully committed to it. What excites me about this-as a journalist, educator, researcher, and community organizer-is the opportunity to create meaningful work and define my own space within the fight for racial equity and social justice. Over the last several years I have attempted to maneuver the world of journalism and community organizing without abandoning one or the other. I believe this project provides an avenue to more effectively maneuver the relationship between journalism and community organizing. I see in this project the space to create publishable research, embedded journalism-in-action, and various forms of education and training. I also know that this project can be so much more and I am excited to journey through it.
The most important piece of this entire program is its experiential training program. As a young journalist who has worked in community-based media, I think that the single most important tool that this program can provide is a training program for young journalists out of these marginalized communities and social movements. I believe that voice is a key voice missing from other independent media or typically unorganized on social media. By training young potential community organizers, leaders, and activists, we can bring a new voice to the professional journalism on social movements and oppression. And those young embedded journalists will have a unique understanding of how they can use their voice without stripping themselves of a commitment to social justice, equity, or liberation.
Again, this project is still in its infancy. I have a seemingly unlimited number of questions. However, my current and primary focus pertains to building a working understanding of embedded journalism as a research topic and experiential journalism model. I’m going to be using this blog space as a way of working through all my questions, developing a coherent philosophy, and sharing meaningful examples of embedded journalism. My primary goal now is to ask and begin answering the questions most pertinent to this project, while also developing as an embedded journalist.