False equivalency and crisis reporting

Giving prejudiced voices 50 percent of coverage doesn’t make your reporting impartial.

A Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, S.D., that produces 4% to 5% of the nation’s pork supply has become the latest meat processing facility to shut down as COVID-19 sickens plant workers. Stephen Groves/AP
  • Do you have relationships with members of the impacted community(s)?
  • Are you trusted by racially diverse members of your community? If not, how will you gain trust?
  • Who are the influencers across the Race Fault Line in your community?
  • Check their social media accounts. Follow them and reach out to them specifically.
  • If these are folks you don’t have relationships with, be transparent about why you are reaching out.
  • Don’t think extractively about your approach to covering them during this crisis.
  • How does covering this community connect to your outlet’s most prosperous and sustainable future? While these communities are often navigating the impacts of disparities, they do not see themselves as deficient. So don’t treat them this way.
  • They are whole and complete communities in need of nuanced coverage by journalists who seek to understand, illuminate and serve. They don’t want to be portrayed through what the Maynard Institute calls “Display Case Journalism.”
  • Which community groups and nonprofits serve people across the Race Fault Line in your community? Reach out to those organizations and see if they may help you make connections. Even in those relationships, seek to be additive and ask what you as a news outlet might offer in service of their mission?

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The Maynard Institute for Journalism Education

The nation’s oldest organization dedicated to helping the news media accurately, fairly & credibly portray all segments of society. mije.org & bit.ly/39iiNOA