Solidarity Journalism

The Solidarity Journalism Initiative helps journalists, journalism educators, and journalism students improve coverage of marginalized communities. Solidarity in journalism means that journalists stand for basic human dignity and against suffering, and is practiced through newsworthiness judgments, sourcing, and framing that center the lived experiences of people subjected to unjust conditions. The decision to report – or not report – on these conditions inherently leaves neutrality behind.

With solidarity techniques, journalists do what the most celebrated journalism has always done: insist on representing truthful narratives that accurately convey lived experience, amplify sources who have the most insight into an issue, and convey outrage at people’s dignity being disrespected.

The Solidarity Journalism Initiative regularly collaborates with journalism organizations, journalism schools, and independent journalists. The initiative holds free workshops on a range of issues; past workshops have focused on reporting COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, covering elections in solidarity with voters, framing and naming the January 6 insurrection, and covering anti-Asian racism. In addition, the Solidarity Journalism Initiative provides public-facing media analysis and holds individual consultations to help journalists incorporate solidarity into their work.

Solidarity Reporting Guide

November 10, 2021

Solidarity in journalism is practiced through newsworthiness judgments, sourcing, and framing that center the lived experiences of people subjected to unjust conditions. Read More
Solidarity Reporting Guide

A Primer on Empathy and Empathy Fatigue

November 10, 2021

Empathy and solidarity are often mistaken for each other, but empathy and solidarity focus our attention on different aspects of care. Read More
A Primer on Empathy and Empathy Fatigue

Making Newsworthiness Decisions in Solidarity

November 21, 2022

What makes a story newsworthy? Solidarity reporting moves away from novelty & elite involvement, and toward ongoing issues & community cohesion. Read More
Making Newsworthiness Decisions in Solidarity

How Solidarity Reporting Holds Officials Accountab...

November 21, 2022

Monitoring officials and asking them questions is important – but often insufficient to hold power to account. Solidarity reporting helps counteract this problem and holds officials in power accountable. Read…
How Solidarity Reporting Holds Officials Accountable

Solidarity Reporting FAQs

November 10, 2021

Answering frequently asked questions about solidarity journalism. Read More
Solidarity Reporting FAQs

Examples of Solidarity Reporting

November 8, 2021

Check out examples of published solidarity reporting in a range of news outlets. Read More
Examples of Solidarity Reporting

Solidarity Reporting: Additional Resources

November 1, 2021

Want to learn more about solidarity journalism? Take a look at this list of articles, podcasts, and videos. Read More
Solidarity Reporting: Additional Resources

More From Anita Varma

November 1, 2021

Articles and academic publications from Anita Varma, Solidarity Journailsm Initiative lead. Read More
More From Anita Varma

How Do Reporters Practice Solidarity In Journalism?

In practice, enacting solidarity in journalism means:

  • Deciding that ongoing social injustice is newsworthy.
  • Representing the perspectives of people subjected to conditions not of their own making (not simply to showcase their emotional pain, but to amplify their views on what should change).
  • Moving away from “isolated incident” or “exceptional individual” stories to accurately account for systemic barriers that prevent people from ending their own marginalization.

Interested in solidarity reporting? You might still be wondering:

Who do I talk to when reporting?
What do I write about?
When do I find the time?
Where do I go?
Why would I do this?
How do I convince my editor?

This microsite offers resources to answer these questions & more. To join an upcoming Solidarity Journalism Initiative workshop or to request an individual consultation, please email Anita Varma at anita.varma@austin.utexas.edu.

About Dr. Anita Varma

Dr. Anita Varma leads the Solidarity Journalism Initiative. She is an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Media at UT Austin, where she focuses on media ethics, as well as a senior faculty research associate at the Center for Media Engagement. Varma’s research, teaching, and public engagement all focus on the role of solidarity in journalism. She is on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists (Northern California Chapter), the advisory board of The Objective, and the vice-chair of the Media Ethics Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). Prior to UT Austin, she was the assistant director of Journalism & Media Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics (Santa Clara University), where she started the Solidarity Journalism Initiative. Varma received her Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University, and her dissertation, Solidarity in Action: A Case Study of Journalistic Humanizing Techniques in the San Francisco Homeless Project, received the inaugural Penn State Davis Ethics Award. Her scholarly work has been published in Journalism Studies, Journalism Practice, Journalism, Routledge Companion to Media and Poverty, and A Handbook of Global Media Ethics (SpringerLink).