The best journalism of 2020: Covering racial justice
By Feven Merid
This year, many news outlets covered widespread opposition to racism and police brutality—from the knee-jerk responses to the more substantive efforts—with a newfound urgency. They also grappled with their own legacies, applying a critical lens to their pasts, locating the same rotten systems at play in their archives—a process that has helped surface critical, long-suppressed conversations. Driving the industry’s confrontations with racism and other forms of institutional discrimination are BIPOC and movement journalists, working in tandem with communities that have long been trivialized in the news.
What is your organization doing to challenge white supremacy and oppression? As the press increasingly recognizes its own culpability and struggles to counteract decades of systemic mistreatment, the stories below, among many more, help show the way forward.
Reckoning with white supremacy: Five fundamentals for white folks
By Lovey Cooper
At a time when companies still find comfort in limiting discussions to diversity and inclusion, Scalawag is one of the very few journalism organizations calling out white supremacy. Lovey Cooper, its managing editor, gets straight to the point in this guide, putting the long line of Black people killed at the hands of police and vigilantes into context. These deaths are not just one-off events, but in fact are the results of a society working as intended: “From slavery to secession, the KKK to ‘states rights’ strategies, from Jim Crow to mass incarceration—we've been here before,” she writes.
Immigrants allege mistreatment by Georgia doctor and whistleblower
By Tina Vasquez
This report of forced hysterectomies performed on detained immigrant women in Georgia was something out of a horror story. Prism’s Tina Vasquez gave women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center the space to tell their stories; in doing so, she revealed a more complicated dynamic than most breaking-news coverage offered—“both of the doctor who allegedly sterilized detained women without their consent and of the nurse who blew the whistle on them,” she tweeted in September.
By Josie Duffy Rice
Amid calls to “Defund the Police,” mainstream news frequently treated a movement as a mere rallying cry, rather than a platform. Such superficial, ahistorical coverage does a disservice to the conversation around police brutality. Josie Duffy Rice’s Vanity Fair story, however, helped keep discussions moving. As Rice explains, the concept of defunding the police is not so far off: many Americans already live in a world where police don’t patrol their streets and prisons don’t bookend their communities.