A View from the Field: Confronting Systemic Racism
A View from the Field is an ongoing feature that highlights the efforts of Free Press’ team of organizers and advocates.
Once a month, we provide updates from the field as staffers work alongside our amazing allies and activists to create a more just and equitable media system.
- Vice President of Cultural Strategy Collette Watson traveled to Morgantown, West Virginia, to screen the Media 2070 documentary Black in the Newsroom. The film, which Collette directed, examines what happens when a talented journalist experiences systemic racism at The Arizona Republic and contends with pay so low she has to choose between buying groceries and paying rent. A discussion of the film featured local Black journalists and media-makers including Crystal Good, the founder of the West Virginia newspaper Black by God. The documentary will be an official selection at the Detroit Black Film Festival later this year.
- Senior Counsel and Director of Digital Justice and Civil Rights Nora Benavidez took part in a congressional briefing about the Fourth Amendment Is Not for Sale Act, which would make it illegal for data brokers to sell our personal online information to law enforcement and government agencies. “We need interventions from the federal government, specifically Congress, to protect Americans against violative invasions of privacy,” Nora said during the briefing. “The impact on real people is not abstract. Data brokers gather incredibly private details like individuals’ sex, age, gender, geolocation, and health information; they can also collect internet-search histories that reveal even more sensitive information about us.”
- News Voices Director Vanessa Maria Graber and partners from the Center for Cooperative Media led an information session in Camden, N.J., about the restorative-narrative reporting project “Stories Invincible.” During the event, the hosts invited Camden-based journalists and media-makers to apply for fellowship funding to support projects that will address the city’s information needs and uplift stories of resilience and hope.
- Vanessa Maria and Senior Director of Journalism Policy Mike Rispoli took part in “New Jersey’s Local News Revolution,” which featured state and local leaders presenting lightning talks about the projects and people supporting informed communities in New Jersey. Vanessa discussed the New Jersey Community Media Collective and Mike discussed the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium.
- Co-CEO Jessica J. González took part in a panel discussion on “Civic Engagement in the Disinformation Age” at the Future of California Elections Conference. “We must confront two truths,” she said during the conversation. “One, our corporate media system allows hate and disinformation to run rampant not because it’s good for people, but rather because it’s good for business. And two, when hate, harassment and conspiracy theories proliferate in our media system, they are more likely to target and harm women and people of color.”
- Jessica also appeared in a virtual press conference alongside Sen. Ed Markey, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Doris Matsui after the lawmakers introduced the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act. The bill would restore the FCC’s oversight of broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon — empowering the agency to work toward its mandate of ensuring that affordable high-speed internet is available to all. The legislation would also provide the foundation for restoring the Obama-era Net Neutrality rules.