Introducing Journalism of Color

I have been woefully out of touch over the last several months. But I promise I have something to share. I have been working on an idea that I call “journalism of color,” an idea that we can do journalism better in the Twin Cities and that we can do justice work through journalism and a cooperative journalism project led by people of color and based out of communities of color.

This project seeks to fulfill a gap left open by both the legacy media and traditional independent journalism organizations in that this is a community training program which seeks to train members of marginalized communities to be journalists. It also seeks to create spaces for capacity-building within marginalized communities, resiliency of knowledge via knowledge-sharing with social movements, and new avenues and frames for how we discuss our movements, values, and issues to each other—as a form of accountability—and to the wider world.

This project also stems from my experiences working in nonprofit marketing and communications. I was often frustrated that we would spend so much time planning an action or event and then worry that the Star Tribune had not covered it, even if we knew there coverage would be biased and/or lack context. Why spend so much time attempting to dismantle systemic oppression if the frames and narratives promoted by an outlet—such as the STrib, CNN, or otherwise—were just going to keep rebuilding it. I believe it is necessary that we build our own institutions and take responsibility for creating journalism that does not rebuild systems of oppression, but is instead a tool that we can access within our communities and within our work.

This journalism of color project is a tool for capacity-building, accountability, resilience, knowledge sharing. As a journalism practice, its goals are to provide context for the issues, movements, and communities discussed, to use frames that build community power and the community’s capacity to create social change via knowledge-sharing and accountability measures, and to focus on the voices and stories of marginalized communities.

At its core, this project is a community effort, and specifically an effort to train community members to be community journalists within their own communities and other marginalized communities. This project prioritizes the voices and experiences of marginalized communities, recognizing that these individuals and communities are the experts of their own stories and that those experiences and stories need to be shared and prioritized if we are to truly find liberation and build justice. This experiential education program (either through a series of 3-day training or a 4-month fellowship) combines classroom experience with mentored journalism experience, with the hope and goal being that the training fellows will be able to write for a cooperative platform

For me, what is most important about this is making sure the community owns this project. Throughout the next months I will be doing as many one-to-one’s as I possibly can and I will be looking to all of you. Starting in January, I will be hosting four community conversations in the hopes that we can envision together what our journalism of color work needs to look like in the Twin Cities. I also hope to practice journalism of color through my own reporting, whether on my soon-to-be launched radio or through my print work.

If you would like to hear more, please contact me at cisaadeh@gmail.com

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