Oh what an adventure I am on! In the early parts of 2015, I begin working on a project that soon became known as the Rizoma Community Media Collective (“Rizoma”). Rizoma is an incredible project. Student-led with a radical vision for a useful media in a community with very limited access to independent journalism. The project remains incredible. We began building who we are, writing what we can, envisioning the world that we are creating.
In May, as part of the Rizoma project, I dreamt up Embedded Journalism for Social Justice Reporting. And I almost literally mean dreamt up. Embedded Journalism is the type of project I have been dreaming of since I was a small girl, but could never put words to the vision. In May, I don’t know when and I don’t know where, the words hit me, seemingly out of nowhere. That long-earned, but sudden moment of clarity beget the work I’ve committed to for the rest of my life.
I’ve literally never been more excited about anything I’ve ever worked on. And best of all, I’m amazingly privileged and blessed enough to not only know how to develop this project (particularly due to my experience as a student at Prescott College and in completing my thesis), but I have the support and the capacity to make this dream a reality.
This weekend, I beta-tested a two-day Embedded Journalism training with my comrade and co-researcher Mackenzie. This year, I’ll teach it (in any variety of ways). The Embedded Journalism training that occurred this weekend was phenomenal. It was also necessary as the structures and values of Rizoma and the Embedded Journalism project are defined and built. I feel more inspired about this work than I ever have before.
The focus of this training was both theoretical and practical. Yesterday, Mack & I discussed the myth of neutrality, the liberatory aspects of embedded journalism, and the relationship between journalism and social movements, as well as embedded journalism and other types of journalism. Today’s training was more practical as we discussed the practice of embedded journalism, with a focus on justice-framing.
There is so much work for me to do. Completing a fully-developed training manual and amending the two-day training based on lessons learned from the beta-test, completing a white paper on the topic, my own self-practice of embedded journalism, there is so much to do. I find myself waking up excited to commit this work and I find myself unable to go to sleep because the adrenaline from doing this is just too much for my veins and skin.
Compared to my first blogs on the subject just a few days ago, my own understanding of this entire concept is so much stronger, so much more than I could have ever imagined. This living thing exists now, has form and matter, an ever-widening space in the journalism world.
I begin my PhD program in just a week. Orientation begins on the 24th and ends on the 28th, my birthday. And I get to spend the four years after that talking about this and reading about this, dreaming about this, building this, writing about this, and writing for this, spending all my time in this world.
How lucky am I?
If I had to define embedded journalism right now, I would say it is the practice of localized, independent journalism within social movements, a decolonizing practice for community members from communities facing systemic and structural barriers, committed by members of those communities, in solidarity with those communities and those movements. *
I stepped out of the community organizing intentionally. I stepped out to focus on journalism and journalism welcomed me with arms wide open. In so many ways it feels like coming home.
*This definition is subject to change, growth, and development.