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.
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 email@example.com.
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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
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, JournalismPractice, Journalism,Routledge Companion to Media and Poverty, and A Handbook of Global Media Ethics (SpringerLink).