Triggered by the Black Lives Matter Movement, journalists across the United States are questioning the news media’s complicity in sustaining systemic racism and the inequities that permeate society. Recently, for example, the Los Angeles Times published an unflinching editorial apologizing for its “history of racism” and vowed to “redouble and refocus its efforts to become an inclusive and inspiring voice of California.” Today, this drive for a reckoning in America is also rippling through philanthropy, which has become an increasingly influential player in media as nonprofit journalism has spread in the United States.
From the state house to our city streets, Bay Area journalists are responding to the dramatic news exploding out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter uprisings. At the same time, the heightened awareness to matters of health, racism and social inequality tied to the twin crises has pushed journalists to confront their own vulnerabilities and shortcomings. These were the top insights that leaders from the Bay Area’s most prominent nonprofit newsrooms shared during a recent conversation hosted by Renaissance Journalism. Conducted via Zoom due to shelter-at-home restrictions, it offered a rare opportunity for the journalists to set aside deadlines and share experiences.
The horrific killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the COVID-19 pandemic’s ruthless attack on communities of color has galvanized people’s attention to the vast inequalities and systemic forms of racism that permeate American society. Rev. Al Sharpton declared at Mr. Floyd’s funeral in Minneapolis that there is hope for change because the swelling protests show that it is “a different time and a different season.” With hopes that we can move from anguish to action, Renaissance Journalism is taking new steps to help journalists tackle inequality, systemic inequities and racism in America, which is at the heart of our mission.