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01 Feb

The journalists’ (and my) struggle is real

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NOTE: Let’s get this cleared and out of the way. I am not a typical journalist. I don’t have a regular byline nor do I have a media company having to deal with angry voices that value perception more than reality. So, these thoughts are “easier” for me to express than others in our industry. I’ll also add, these are just my thoughts… often thinking, speaking or tweeting out loud as I try to grapple how I fit in the world around me.

BACKSTORY
This wasn’t a new internal debate I’ve been having. In fact, since the middle of the primaries, I’ve been asking myself – and any journalist who would let me bend their ear – the question about how I, or we, as a journalist am feeling about the the tone and coverage as the country began to select the next president.

I, as someone who aims to be an informed citizen, couldn’t tell what was real. I didn’t know what was fact or what was “fake news.”

And, to get this on the record, this concern wasn’t limited to one candidate. In the end, both the Democratic and Republican candidates had some significant flaws that should force any voting citizen a moment to pause.

But, let’s also be honest, one candidate said and behaved contrary to some fundamental beliefs I hold dear. I am unapologetically against racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and anything that leads to discrimination of others.

I, like I believe many people have, have always thought about “what would I have done” if… if there were a robbery, would I be a hero? If I saw police brutality what would I do? And, the ultimate hypothetical scenario, if I were around the time of Hitler, would I do something to speak up and defend the Jews.

I am also a Catholic (although I do not agree with many of the church’s political stance) and this past Sunday’s set of readings really affected me as President Trump’s executive order banning the travel of Muslim immigrants was happening.

All this got me to tweet. Not saying it was a good or bad decision, but here they are with some context.

I keep my faith to myself. I hate preachy people. But I thought there was hypocrisy and discrimination with the Muslim Ban and these readings really called it out.

I then tweeted out quotes from the readings, which I will spare you. But here is Tweet 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the series.

This was the tweet that would spark a Poynter piece about this struggle.

This is the moment where I went off my planned topic and decided to be more open and share my struggle with our current reality.

There were lots of “likes,” retweets and replies, including this one from Joshua Johnson.

This led to an exchange with Katie Hawkins-Gaar of Poynter, who asked if she could use my tweets for a piece she’d write based on this struggle many of us seem to be facing.

That led to this:

I will admit, I was and still am nervous for sharing. I took a risk in exposing myself. So far I haven’t gotten in trouble.

But others aren’t so lucky.

Lewis Wallace wrote about his struggle in this new reality too. But he was then fired from his job at Marketplace.

Clearly I disagree with this move.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know this is something we need to discuss and examine. This is happening. This is a reality. This isn’t something we can simply ignore or kick out of our newsrooms. This is the time for journalism to embrace the diversity of perspectives from every side and find a way to factor them into our coverage, ethically and transparently.

This is part of the new journalism, and it’s going to get uncomfortable and messy.

I am ready. Are you?

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