Movement Journalism is the Antidote

Tina Vasquez
April 21, 2020

I’ve been a working journalist for more than 10 years, but it was only recently that I learned about movement journalism. For the first time in my life, I have the language to talk about my work. More importantly, learning about this framework has fundamentally changed how I view the field. Movement journalism—as defined by the Southern journalism collective Press On—is journalism in service of liberation. It is “journalism that strives to meet the needs of communities that are directly affected by injustice, and that are taking action toward liberation for all people,” as Press On’s co-founder, Anna Simonton wrote.

For me, it is also journalism that advances justice. Conceptualizing of journalism in this way disrupts so-called “journalistic objectivity,” the longstanding myth that media is impartial and nonpartisan; that media is “fair and balanced” and must present “both sides.” What this usually means is that we read more from and about those who wield State violence than we read about the communities experiencing state violence. We have a clear understanding of what this looks like in immigration reporting. When the Trump administration unleashes another attack on undocumented communities, reputable outlets are more apt to quote leaders of anti-immigrant groups than undocumented immigrants subject to the latest round of inhumane and often unlawful immigration enforcement. Identifying as a movement journalist is a surefire way to get dismissed by other journalists, legacy publications, powerful editors, and the field at large—and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me that wanted to become a respected name in the industry. What journalist doesn’t want to be esteemed by their peers or acknowledged for breaking important stories? Who among us doesn’t want to get big bylines? But identifying as a movement journalist may put these things at risk. Download Culture Pulse to READ ON...

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