Mayborn Pulitzer Prize Panel: Century of Excellence
By: Elizabeth Guevara (@elliegguevara)
How can journalism, when done well, right wrongs in society, including issues of race, gender. sexuality?
A good journalist knows that a story goes beyond deadlines; through the blood, sweat, and tears, a voice emerges. That being said, there are many things journalism can do to right the wrongs in society: first and foremost, journalists shed light on issues that oftentimes go unnoticed or unreported. Journalists pull back the covers and reveal the ugly truths, but HOW it is reported is what will matters. Journalists covering topics such as race, gender, and sexuality must be passionate for what they do, and must be prepared to tell the story with minimal bias. Melissa Boughton, Pulitzer Prize finalist says that "[a reporter] should never go into a situation with a preconceived notion of what [they’re] reporting." I can’t even begin to express the importance of understanding the cultural climate, current events, and the historical context of each of these topics: race, gender, and sexuality. As journalists, we must have a clear understanding of the subject we are covering in order to avoid using damaging verbiage and avoid misinterpretation Like Ray Moseley said at the Pulitzer panel, “knowing the right question to ask is having the knowledge of the subject you're dealing with."
In more recent years, race has become a hot button topic that when reported on, must be met with caution and empathy. When a Non-POC reporter covers race, they must be aware of the wording used in their article in order to avoid racial biases, as was the case when one newspaper wrote that black people "looted" food from a grocery store, while white people "found" the food.
Gender & Sexuality
In an age where more people are embracing gender fluidity and are not constrained to two genders, it is imperative that journalists understand and educate themselves on gender orientation. We also see a lack of coverage when it comes to Trans men and women- this needs to change. When the majority of victims of hate crimes are Trans people, why is it that the media does nothing to report on them? In regards to sexuality, my suggestion for the media is to write articles that are positive- I want to see stories of proposals, marriage, adoption, etc. I want to see agendered, nongendered, asexual, pansexual, demisexual represented. I want the media to educate themselves on Queer identities in order to accurately represent the community.