Written on Thursday, January 26, 2017.
I envision a radically different media and communications landscape in 2040. News and popular media are driven by principles like hope, honor, respect, resilience, and love.
Media mergers are so 2017. The days of a tiny handful of corporate media options are long gone. In their place is a robust selection of locally and community owned outlets producing beautiful content. This means Indigenous Peoples and people of color own more radio stations, television stations, production companies, online platforms, newspapers, and magazines. This means the ideal of more democratic media ownership is reality in 2040.
Community voices are no longer bypassed or purposefully unheard. Instead, they lead the hour. They are the experts of their own experiences, and respected as such. Their stories are honored. The knowledge our elders hold is recorded and archived for future generations. History is something we pay attention to, and something we learn from, in 2040.
We also have an established and flourishing career pipeline for young journalists and media makers of color. This leads to paying internships, scholarships for undergraduate and graduate education, and meaningful careers. With every keystroke, Indigenous and journalists of color shift narratives. They cement a love and respect for community as guiding journalistic principles. And they have gone on to win multiple Pulitzers, Emmys, and Press Freedom Awards in 2040.
Journalism schools no longer subscribe to antiquated notions of objectivity. Their once cherished god-eye view of the world has long gone by the wayside. Journalism professors reflect their student bodies and the communities surrounding each campus. Critical media literacy is required in 2040.
Affordable access to high-speed internet is something all households — in cities and rural areas — can take advantage of. Net Neutrality is universally accepted and protected. Phone and video calls to those still incarcerated are affordable for all their families. Surveillance apparatuses, once used to target and disrupt activists, have been dismantled. The Media Justice movement in the United States is flourishing and impactful. Tech policies which do not take into account Indigenous and communities of color never make it to the floor. Fundamental communication rights belong to all of us in 2040.
Latinxs see more varied, rich, and complex representations of themselves on all screens. Anti-immigrant discourse no longer dominates the news cycle. In 2040, we have far more Latinx writers, directors, and producers. But, we also have Latinx CEOs and Latinx television showrunners. Latinxs are studio presidents and greenlight executives. Our different accents and histories are acknowledged. Our regionally-based cultures and quirks are not folded into one another and disappeared under the homogenous umbrella of “Hispanic.” They are celebrated. We are celebrated, in 2040.
The Oscars are still white, but also brown and black and Asian and Middle Eastern and Indigenous. Diversity in media is no longer a Christmas ornament we see a few weeks a year.
There is work to do to get to this 2040, no doubt. The trek, however, is made easier by the paths already laid out by organizations today. These are folks who have dedicated their lives to this version of 2040. I think about a Generation Justice, whom I had the honor of working with. The work Generation Justice does to train youth to harness the power of media is invaluable, and will prove to be key for this vision of 2040. More than that, Generation Justice provides young Indigenous and people of color with critical leadership training. We cannot expect a media landscape rooted in justice without centering the leadership of young Indigenous and people of color.
The work of organizations like the Media Mobilizing Project, MayFirst/People’s Link, and Voices for Racial Justice (all three of whom, along with Generation Justice and other organizations, form a nationwide network of advocates called the Media Action Grassroots Network) has already brought us tremendous victories in communications rights, Internet Freedom, and media representation.
We need to look to their work today, and support it moving forward, to realize this version and vision of 2040.
Photo Credits: “Art Error (Serie Tv)” Mónica Arreola