This week, the New York Times chose to publish a deeply problematic and dangerous op-ed by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton in which he advocated for the use of military force against protesters. As so many journalists have noted, the decision to run this piece, without context, without fact-checking Cotton’s many inaccurate claims and without providing any counterarguments to the dangerous, illegal basis of his position, puts black journalists in danger.
In spite of these criticisms, editorial page editor James Bennet chose to double down on his decision to run the op-ed, defending his actions in a lengthy Twitter thread. In response, some of the paper’s staff members have been protesting by tweeting a screenshot of the op-ed, along with a simple statement: “Running this puts Black @nytimes staffers in danger.”
In light of this decision by the New York Times, and the paper’s subsequent refusal to acknowledge or rectify their mistake (perhaps by taking down the article), you may be looking for ways you can show your support for these black journalists. One way to so is by either donating to organizations that aid black journalists or by subscribing to black-owned newspapers.
Newsrooms tend to be disproportionately white and male, a fact that impacts what news stories get covered and in what way. If we want news coverage that more accurately reflects our world, then we absolutely have to support and encourage journalism by people from the community that is being reported on—which includes black journalists, who need support at critical points in their careers, particularly when they are first starting out. As with so many facets of the American workforce, opportunities tend to go to those with the best connections and the most financial resources.
Organizations that support black journalists include the Ida B. Wells Society, which supports journalists of color through regional workshops and internships; the National Association of Black Journalists, which supports black journalists through scholarships and internships; as well as the Maynard Institute, which offers training programs for newsrooms on how to cover communities of color fairly and accurately. All of these organizations could use your financial support. right now and in the future
If you want to show your support by subscribing to a black-owned independent newspaper, this list, compiled by the African-American Literature Book Club, is a good resource, and will help you find a news resource within your own community.
Given the realities of the present-day media landscape, which has seen intense consolidation and a large number of smaller newspapers closing down in recent years, not to mention a sharp reduction in the number of full-time reporter positions and the added financial pressures brought on by the pandemic, your subscription to a black-owned local newspaper could mean all the difference in ensuring it survives and, hopefully, thrives for years to come.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources.