August 24, 2020
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Investigative journalism requires digging for information that someone wants hidden. Powerful forces seek to prevent access, from government officials to private citizens avoiding accountability for wrongdoing.

So how can journalists protect their ability to investigate while under attack? What’s the best defense? And what are the strongest strategies for protecting a free press? Those questions will be the subject of a wide-ranging program in partnership with Investigative Reporters & Editors, moderated by Angela Greiling Keane, editorial director of states and Canada for POLITICO, with panelists Amanda Bennett, former Director of Voice of America; Agnes Callamard, United Nations Special Rapporteur; and Nabiha Syed, president of The MarkUp. The discussion will bring together their experiences as press freedom advocates with their work in journalism, law, and human rights.

Registration is open for this program, which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, August 28, 2020. 
The news release from the Kenosha (Wisconsin) Police Department on Sunday night said, “At 5:11 p.m., Kenosha Police Officers … were involved in an officer involved shooting.” Video released later that night by a lawyer for the family of Jacob Blake, a Black man, shows Kenosha police shooting at Blake several times.

As newsrooms reckon with their failures to represent Black communities accurately, coverage of police shootings casts a light on the way words convey power and can breed mistrust. 
Most newsrooms, particularly in the rush of breaking news, repeat the police jargon officer-involved shooting,” which originated in the 1970s at the Los Angeles Police Department, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. That passive construction adopts law enforcement language and masks important details, including: Who shot whom? 

At a National Press Club Journalism Institute program on “Covering Justice: Reimagining the cops, crime, courts beats,” Marshall Project journalist Jamiles Lartey offers a solution:

“Newspaper editors are historically allergic to the passive voice. That’s one of the first cardinal rules of news writing is you don’t write passively, you write actively. What happened? Who did it? And yet we’ve adopted this police jargon that is sort of the ultimate passive voice in these moments. Why? It’s not helping our readers understand anymore what happened. …

Just say what happened, don’t use jargon. … ’Police shot John Doe.’ It communicates more to the reader. That is not a political or ethical statement. That’s actually just a journalism point. It’s better writing.”

If you don’t know who shot whom, wait until you do before publishing unless there is an active threat to public safety, advised Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wesley Lowery on Monday.

Several journalists echoed his advice:
Blake remains hospitalized in serious condition on Monday afternoon, according to the Journal Sentinel, and the officers involved have been placed on leave. 

Advice from Jill Geisler,
Bill Plante Chair in Leadership & Media Integrity, Loyola University Chicago
Freedom Forum Fellow in Women’s Leadership

Trust is the glue that binds relationships. It’s an essential component of leadership. It’s the fuel that drives high-performing teams. 

Trust is confidence, in the face of risk, that the other person will do the right thing. 

Trust is also essential to earning the title of “ally,” because an ally is a trusted force for good

An ally uses power and privilege to support those who have traditionally had less. But just as you aren’t a leader unless others choose to follow you, you aren’t an ally unless others trust that you qualify. And it is those who’ve lacked a seat at the table who get to sit in judgment.

Think about the risk involved in granting you that trust. Think of the grace it must take to believe that in a world of overabundant bias, someone who has been its beneficiary will set aside self-interest and act on behalf of equity. 

There’s risk that an aspiring ally won’t do the hardest work. Won’t learn enough to truly grow or to inform others. Won’t speak out in the moment when witnessing wrong. Will stop at small, symbolic actions and not challenge systems. 

And here’s another risk: That their view of allyship will begin and end with holding others to account. That when they are personally challenged, corrected or criticized, their default response will be defensive at best, aggressive at worst. 

It’s always been hard to be criticized and human to be defensive, at least initially. Tell me I’m late for an appointment and I’ll remind you how hard I’ve been working lately. Tell me I tend to dominate in meetings and I’ll assert that other people don’t contribute useful ideas. Tell me I should have looped others in on a decision and I’ll explain why I didn’t want to bother them. 

In my head, my intentions are always good. Hence, the defense. It takes emotional intelligence and a desire for healthy relationships to overcome the urge to automatically push back against a critique.

Now imagine that the criticism has to reach across differences. Across gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age or power. Imagine that you, the aspiring ally, are told that something you said, did or failed to do showed ignorance or caused harm. How will you respond?

I ask because your response will determine whether it was worth trusting that you’d suppress that self-defense impulse and be open to listening and reflecting. That your primary goal would be to take ownership of the problem rather than securing the absolution you probably crave. (Not to mention that you wouldn’t shout, swear, cry, pontificate, retaliate, go silent or leave the room and the relationship.)

I ask because as we address issues of inequity and injustice, these difficult conversations are as inevitable as they are important. And those who aspire to allyship can’t expect that their good intentions and their work-in-progress provides them a shield against scrutiny. If anything, allyship should invite it. 

Scary, isn’t it to feel you could be judged or misjudged, stereotyped or disbelieved, hoping for a break or the benefit of the doubt – just like those who’ve been marginalized have felt forever?

Let me repeat that trust is confidence, in the face of risk, that the other person will do the right thing. To be an ally means more than striving to do what’s right; it’s also removing the risk for those who let us know we still have work to do.

Click here to read Jill’s previous posts.
Do you qualify as an ally? Join Jill for the next Freedom Forum Institute Power Shift Project program on September 15 at 1 p.m. EDT. Registration is now open.
A change of scenery can spark creativity (and boost your energy), and you know that spending time outdoors is good for your health. If your neighborhood stroll has become a chore, adding a bingo game could help add some allure. 

Points for pups: The Washington Post’s interactive dog-themed game features squares for fur-friends donning bandannas or running in a dog park. 

At one with nature: Do a quick search for “nature bingo”, and you’ll find a host of ready-to-use bingo cards that give you reasons to stop and smell the roses along your normal route. 

Life in motion: If your outdoor walks are more urban than oasis, this bingo card has you covered. With “moody teenager on cellphone” and “first-time joggers,” this game board will have you chuckling – and scoring points. 

Read on for more self-care tips, or share how you are taking care of yourself right now.
Safety for journalists has taken on a renewed sense of importance as newsrooms grapple with the convergence of hostility toward those in the field and systemic racism that pervades even the most revered journalistic institutions. It seems journalists have more reason than ever to be allies for each other as the industry confronts itself while serving conflicted communities. 

This program will be moderated by Jill Geisler, who will join Alex Marquardt, Sarah MatthewsAbby Phillip, and Michael Santiago to discuss “Journalists in peril: Creating a safer, equitable future together,” drawing on their experiences at CNN, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and their knowledge of journalism, allyship and equity. 

Registration is open for this program, which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. 
This newsletter is written & edited by the National Press Club Journalism Institute staff: Beth Francesco, Holly Butcher Grant, and Julie Moos. Send us your questions and suggestions for topics to cover.

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