Ethical Reporting on Police Violence and Black-led Resistance: Tips for Journalists

Compiled by Press On, a southern movement journalism collective

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Design by Mia Henry of Freedom Lifted
  1. Provide Context. Focus on the reasons for the protests. They are not senseless, and it is our job to help people understand protest’s goals and underlying conditions. Good journalism will unpack those and provide historical context
  2. Fact-check. Don’t reflexively quote police without question. Police often misrepresent protesters and employ racism and anti-Black rhetoric in press conferences and press releases. We want to be accurate and avoid justifying police violence. Always include non-police accounts.
  3. Avoid False Equivalency. Property destruction ≠ violence. Focusing on property destruction when the protests are responding to the deaths of Black people diminishes Black life. The uprisings are a response to unchecked police violence against Black people. …

I was recently accepted to the Knight Nieman Visiting Fellowship at Harvard University, where I will spend five weeks studying “movement journalism,” producing material for my podcast (The View from Somewhere) as well as case studies to use in my work with Press On, a southern collective for journalism in service of liberation that I co-founded in 2019. (Here’s that official announcement.)

I’m not the first person to talk about or research “movement journalism,” and my colleagues at Press On and I are very sensitive to the fact that “movement journalism” is not a buzzword, a trend, or a concept we coined or feel ownership over— there’s a long and complex history of social justice movement organizers and journalists using storytelling toward liberation, and attempting to tell stories in ever more liberating ways, and that history is deeply rooted in indigenous traditions of storytelling, and Black southern traditions of storytelling. As a white trans journalist with a platform, I’m a conduit, not a discoverer or creator of these ideas (and on that note, here’s a really wonderful report about southern movement journalism put together by Project South and my comrade Anna Simonton). …

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The View from Somewhere podcast is now being released biweekly on all major podcast platforms.

I have been a ball of anxiety, hope, and sadness — because of that bad president and bleak democratic future, yes, and because I am tired and everyone I know is tired, and because climate catastrophe is coming for us all. And, more selfishly, because this book I wrote is out in the world after two and half years of work.

The book is an analysis of the myth of “objectivity” through the lens of U.S. history, focusing on the many marginalized journalists who have pushed back on, challenged, and changed how we think about “objective” reporting in U.S. journalism. Toni Morrison once said “if there’s a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” …


Lewis Wallace

Independent journalist, editor and transgender rabble-rouser. www.lewispants.com

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