Journalism of Color: journalism for us, by us, with us

Cirien Miriam
Photo by Cirien Saadeh

Sometimes my ten years as a journalist feels like it’s been fifty years and sometimes I feel like the newbie still trying to find her way. I remember my time a as a young staff member with The UpTake and as an even-younger intern with the organization. I reported out of the Minnesota State Capitol and I had no idea how unique the opportunity was for me, to be who I was, as a journalist, in that space, with no professional journalism experience, but for the support of an organization that was willing to invest in me.

I worked as a freelance journalist for most of the last ten years, and for the last nearly-two years, I have worked for North News, the only newspaper serving all of North Minneapolis and only North Minneapolis. Working for North News has been, and continues to be, a real treasure. I have a boss who understands exactly what it means for journalists to step into community and exactly what it means when we’re taking up too much space. She has my back as a reporter and Pillsbury United Communities, who own the paper, has our back. Working for the organization has been an incredible experience and I’m excited to see where we’re going next. Aside from my work with North News, I recently re-joined The UpTake, this time as Executive Director.

Working for North News was a crucial experience in the completion of my PhD in Sustainability Education, which focused on an idea called “Journalism of Color.” There is a lot to say about the idea (see the nearly 500-page dissertation I finished and successfully defended in Nov. 2018 for proof), but in short Journalism of Color seeks to explore how our historically-marginalized communities can build journalism that honors our community values, dismantles oppressive narratives, and empowers us to be journalists and to use journalism within our work for equity.

The official definition of Journalism of Color is:

“Journalism of Color is a resilient, transformative, community-based journalism methodology and form of resistance writing that is framed by the values, narratives, and historical contexts of historically-marginalized communities. It emphasizes the following:

  • Disrupting traditional narratives about historically-marginalized communities
  • Writing for and by historically-marginalized communities
  • Creating journalism, journalism spaces, and journalism tools that are easily accessed by these communities and practiced by these communities
  • Developing localized journalism structures and processes and community-based journalism and journalistic literacy
  • Building and translating knowledge of justice and how it comes to be whilst decoding and deconstructing oppression, presenting counter ideologies, and challenging existing ideologies
  • Constructing authentic community connections through responsiveness, adaptability, accessibility, critical reflection, cooperation, the prioritization of community voices, the articulation of beauty, and mutual trust
  • Linking trust with analyses of justice and power, whilst centering community vision and values

Journalism of Color puts the power of journalism into the hands of people who systematically have difficulty accessing journalism, as well as journalistic tools and spaces. This idea organizes and builds on the work of the Black and Brown Press, narrative-building practices, theories of power and cooperation, as well as independent journalism, in order to confront and deconstruct hegemony. Journalism of Color seeks to create connections between what is happening within social movements and what is happening outside of them, analyze social movements construction and social justice development, and contextualize movement work and the need for justice.”

I believe that Journalism of Color is how we move our communities forward, from being the victims of journalism, to being the creators of journalism, to having our movements destroyed by irresponsible journalism, to having our movements built up by journalism that understands how our movements operate and what our community values our. Historically-marginalized communities and journalism do not have to stand in contrast with each other. I believe that we can create journalism that is sustainable, community-centered, and community-built in our communities, I believe we must do so, and I believe that Journalism of Color can help us to do so.

I’m going to be writing more about Journalism of Color on this space and on my own website, but for now, I would love to know what questions you have. Feel free to reach out at cisaadeh@gmail.com or Cirien Miriam on Twitter.

Cirien Miriam

Written by

At the intersection of community organizing, academic activism, and journalism. Lover of old books, old movies. Rizomista. Tweets remains my own.

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