Writing about POC and bias

Before I joined Twitter, I didn’t know that print journalists were celebrities. Journalists seemed anonymous to me.

It got me thinking about a style of journalism I see a lot today, where the journalist’s voice/tone is a big part of the article. The journalist becomes a selling point, if they’re popular. It makes sense in the age of “brand” publications that personality would become a big part of journalism as well.

I’m also reading “A World Without Whom” by Emmy Favilla, the copy chief of Buzzfeed and the creator of its famous style guide! The book has chapters about “getting things as right as possible” in reporting. Despite personality becoming a big part of web publications, there is still a responsibility to be accurate and get as close to facts as possible.

Writing about people of color and stories about bias is where this is tricky, and few publications really get it right. So I looked at some pieces that maybe do a good job of being descriptive and put the story at the center, rather than the journalist’s commentary.

1. PHOTOS: Drag Queens In South Africa Embrace Queerness And Tradition

This is such a great paragraph! It starts with a topic sentence, then goes on to describe how words to describe queerness actually DON’T exist, rather than making up a name for it. Then it closes with a quote from a source. Very nice!

The limbo they live exists even in the terminology for their identity. There is no word to describe queerness in Xhosa, the indigenous language widely spoken in South Africa. The words that do exist are often insulting to the queer community, describing sexual behavior and denying queer people dignity. “When I came out to my family, I couldn’t find the appropriate word in Xhosa to explain my queerness,” Ka-Fassie says.

2. For A Black Woman In The Military, Harassment Was Its Own Battle

Sometimes the best thing to do is to let a source tell the story because the experience is theirs. In this case, quotes are powerful and they do the heavy lifting. The quote sandwich with a sentence in between to transition/explain is just sublime!

“The guys loved watching women walk away from them, and they would make their comments,” she said. “So I made sure I wore a foundation garment so nothing moved. It was just the way we women handled it then.”

She wanted to be a role model for younger women below her rank.

“I tried to be — for some of my young people coming up — their person that they could look to to see someone who led with integrity.”

3. Twitter Removes Thousands Of Accounts For Manipulating Their Platform

I’m such a big fan of NPR’s short paragraphs and really clear sentences. I am heavily influenced by their articles ^^. Here’s an example of what I mean– it’s just so sensible and easy to understand.

So far, the companies’ progress has been slow, said Nina Jankowicz, a global fellow at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington, D.C.

She said shutting down disinformation campaigns will take both tech-based solutions and educating people through digital literacy.

“It doesn’t matter how many of these accounts we delete, they’re just going to keep cropping back up,” Jankowicz said.

Basically, I’m a big fan of quotes and letting them do the talking, literally! 😀

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