Here’s what I’ve been up to since I got fired…
I’ve been super appreciative of the incredible amount of support, interest, critical engagement and even open-hearted snail mail that has come out of my decision to speak publicly about being fired from Marketplace in January.
For those who are interested, I have some updates! First of all, please see below for a fairly extensive list of media appearances I’ve done. My original article was translated into French and my story was covered by Yahoo Japan. I also spoke to the Washington Post, On the Media, Nieman Lab, Democracy Now, the Daily Beast and a bunch of radio shows and podcasts. A few people did “takes” on my story —LOL— check out Slate and Fusion and my buddy Andrew Ramsammy’s blog, all about the complex interplay between identity and objectivity in journalism. I also talked to Mickey Capper at the Tape podcast about my work and how I see the role of perspective and non-neutrality in the journalism I’ve done. Shout-out to Callie Wright from the Gaytheist Manifesto, the interviewer with whom I probably connected the most deeply, maybe because we talked forever about my nemesis (hint: his first name rhymes with “silo”).
If you listen to just one piece, listen to my appearance on The Pub, which is a podcast about public media. Adam Ragusea and I went deep on talking about white supremacy (and white supremacists…) in stories, why I wrote the post that got me fired and some of my experiences being trans and a journalist.
Second of all, folks have been asking about my work as a writer and reporter. I’ve actually been working a lot, though not all of it has published yet. I now have a website, where you can also sign up for my newsletter to get links to what I’m publishing and thinking about: www.lewispants.com. And I’m guest-editing the current issue of Art 21 Magazine; in my letter from the editor, I asked “What if balance was about process, rather than outcome?” and explored some of the problems of power and privilege in journalism, and how to interact respectfully with the communities we cover, in a way that fosters deep engagement rather than exploitation. Confronting exploitation in journalism is, of course, an ongoing project. But I got to quote Janet Malcolm in that piece, so I felt really good about it.
I’m also currently filling in at 60dB, a fantastic app for short-form audio news. It’s sort of like listening to the radio but you can skip stories and curate your feed. My personal favorite thing I’ve done there so far is about a map some astrophysicists just produced about the shape of dark matter in the universe.
I’ll have some other writing about objectivity, neutrality and balance coming out soon — some of it based on the conversations I’ve been having ever since I lost my job. People have reached out to me from all over the country and other parts of the world, saying they have also been struggling with the requirements of “neutrality” in their workplaces or careers. Librarians, teachers, journalists, people in fields from theater to food service have said they’ve been finding the expectation of silence challenging, especially when they feel their own communities are under attack. Others have expressed misgivings about whether journalism is the place for them.
I personally think that people who are conscientious about their own social position and potential biases are exactly the kinds of people who need to become journalists, teachers and librarians. Hearing these stories, for me, just underlines the importance of what I feel was my original mission: fostering transparent, complicated and respectful conversation among people who disagree, while intentionally opening up more space for people who are targeted by institutional oppression to speak their/our truth. Hearing trans and queer people and women and immigrants say they are afraid to speak up on behalf of their own communities in their workplaces, even as these workplaces claim to value “diversity,” has reinforced my belief that neutrality is a farce that silences the already-marginalized in many situations.
(On the flip side, neutrality and the silence it fosters have perhaps also helped liberals to overlook the unchecked rise of white supremacist extremism that has now been further empowered under Trump. That could be its whole own article. If you steal my idea please credit me.)
But enough about what I think. You have a lot of head-spinny online news to catch up on, “alternative facts” to sift through, Twitter assholes to un-follow, Facebook comments to write and then reconsider actually posting. Go forth!
If you want to see me, I have a little whirlwind speaking tour coming up. The deets: March 22 I’ll be at Georgetown University School of Journalism on a panel about reporting in the Trump era with people from the New York Times, Mic and Axios. On March 24 I’ll be at an LGBTQ journalists’ convening in Orlando. Then April 3–4 I’ll be at Wake Forest University (Melissa Harris-Perry doesn’t know it yet but we are gonna be besties and hopefully start a podcast together about media and institutional oppression); and on April 18 I’m speaking at the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College along with journalist Carter Dougherty.
In May I’m going to France! Let me know if you have stories or contacts you think may be of interest there. And in June, I wouldn’t miss the Allied Media Conference for the world.
Now, here’s the list of my media appearances from the last month and a half…
Stuff to read:
Washington Post: “How one reporter’s rejection of objectivity got him fired”
Fusion: “Impartiality or diversity. Pick one.”
Daily Beast: “Lewis Wallace stood up for journalism. It cost him his job.”
Andrew Ramsammy on Medium: “If we’re going to talk about it, let’s use the right frame”
StreetVox: “Manifeste pour un journalisme engagé”
Yahoo Japan: これは戦争なのか？ 激しさ増す「トランプvs.メディア」
Stuff to listen to:
On the Media: “Objectivity: What is it good for?”
MediaShift Podcast: “Lewis Wallace on Objectivity and Trump”
Uptown Radio at Columbia University (listen @18:25)
Jerry Quickley’s “This Is Happening” on KPFK
Michelangelo Signorile Show on Sirius XM
WYPR’s Midday Show: “Has The So-Called “Post Fact” Era Killed Objectivity In Journalism?” (with Laura Hazard Owen from Nieman Lab)
WNPR’s Colin McEnroe Show: “The Opposition Party” (also featuring Virginia Heffernan and Matt Taibbi)
Coy Barefoot’s “Inside Charlottesville”
“Outsources” on KGNU: “Objectivity, the media and being trans in the age of Trump”
Gaytheist Manifesto: “The Hell Even Is Journalism?”
Robert Scheer Podcast/Truthdig: “Fired Marketplace Reporter Wonders: Is Objective Journalism Dead?”