Lewis Wallace
2 min readJun 1, 2020

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

Compiled by Press On, a southern movement journalism collective

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. Beatings and tear gassing harm people, not things.
  4. Be specific. Avoid passive voice. This is a simple way to be accurate and avoid reinforcing stereotypes about “violent protests” and “riots.” If police attack people, it is not enough to say “violence erupted’ as this muddles the account. Put subjects with verbs.
  5. Don’t glorify police. Refrain from elevating individual acts of kindness by officers. It is distracting from the core issue which is police violence, not the personalities of individuals.
  6. Listen to Black people. Take criticism seriously. Journalists have an opportunity to challenge racism and build solidarity in this historical moment. By listening to the people most affected by the issue, journalism can restore trust, uncover unreported stories, and create the historical record we need.

Press On is a Southern collective that strengthens and expands the practice of journalism in service of liberation. www.presson.media/about

Find us on Twitter: @lewispants @freedomlifted @presson_south