For a very long time, I have loved journalism and believed in its quest for truth. Every morning as a kid, I devoured the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sporting Green. Then there was my hard-hitting third grade newspaper, my middle school baseball fantasy league newsletter, my high school newspaper, and of course, the esteemed and honorable publication you are reading right now. Because “democracy dies in darkness,” we need a vibrant press to help us see the light and hold power to account.
But this week’s lead article poked a small hole in my unflinching view of journalism. Reporter Aaron Miguel Cantú warns against placing blind trust in a longstanding white-dominated institution that has for hundreds of years excluded journalists of color. Which stories are told? Which facts are missed? Please read the article and let me know your thoughts!
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In News for All the People, Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres write, “For more than 250 years, the nation’s news media, no matter how politically liberal, conservative, or radical, no matter what class they purported to represent, remained the press of its white population.” This sobering article chronicles the history of journalism — from the penny press to wire services to cable network conglomerates to YouTube — and argues convincingly that the press has remained complicit in the maintenance of white supremacy. Newsrooms are still overwhelmingly white. Reporters call racist acts “racially tinged” and amplify the voices of white nationalists. Meanwhile, at the same time Maggie Haberman writes stories that may oust our current president, her newspaper may prefer, in order to sell subscriptions, that our current president stay in power. (20 min)
Young people should not fear for their lives on their way to school. But for students at Dymally High School in Los Angeles, where 20 people were murdered last year within a 1-mile radius, each day is “a guessing game,” says sophomore Carl Hull. This outstanding five-part series follows young people as they deal with unrelenting loss. You’ll also learn how the school offers mental health resources to support students to process their trauma. As senior Jaleyah says, “I just can’t be sad forever.” But then she adds, “You never know when it’s going to be a person’s last day.” (25 min)
After a long time away, Matthew Desmond (#29), author of Evicted, is back with a thought-provoking article about the public health benefits of a living wage. Instead of focusing on economics, Mr. Desmond writes: “A living wage is an antidepressant. It is a sleep aid. A diet. A stress reliever. It is a contraceptive, preventing teenage pregnancy. It prevents premature death. It shields children from neglect.” Also, it offers dignity. (10 min)
Longtime readers know that I don’t shy away from including pieces on death, with the understanding that if we’re aware of our mortality, we’ll live with more purpose and more presence. This video about the daily life of philosopher Herbert Fingarette is slow and methodical, like its 97-year-old subject, but I encourage you to take it in and reflect on how it affects you. (17 min)
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