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.
- Nora Benavidez took part in an online advisory session on journalism’s role in strengthening the integrity of U.S. elections. This gathering was the second installment in a three-part series hosted by the Burnes Center for Social Change and the GovLab.
- Nora led a policy workshop at RightsCon about non-English-language disinformation, election integrity and the fight for civil and human rights. The workshop drew on the Free Press report Empty Promises: Inside Big Tech’s Weak Effort to Fight Hate and Lies in 2022, which Nora wrote, as well as the work of the Change the Terms coalition. “Throughout history, lies and propaganda have been used to subvert people’s faith in institutions and each other and to otherwise obfuscate truth,” Nora said during the discussion. “Yet these threats are even more potent in the digital age.”
- Cassie Owens and former staffer Tauhid Chappell led two virtual community workshops on mental health and harm reduction. These workshops grew out of the knowledge that coverage of crime and public safety can stigmatize, misrepresent and traumatize communities. The workshops brought together organizers and therapists to discuss what types of care and programming would best serve Philadelphia residents who have suffered the impacts of problematic and outright racist media coverage.
- Joshua Stager took part in a panel discussion at “Closing the Digital Divide: The Affordable Connectivity Program on the Ground and in D.C.”. The ACP is an FCC program that subsidizes high-speed internet access for people who are living near the poverty line or enrolled in federal aid programs like Medicaid and SNAP. The conversation examined large-scale bipartisan initiatives aimed at closing the digital divide and advancing digital equity.
- Venneikia Williams spoke at the Decolonizing Wealth conference in Atlanta about the narrative history of reparations. The panel discussion explored how defeating harmful narratives and amplifying helpful ones can energize support for local, state and national reparations efforts.
- Free Press’ Media 2070 project and the Black Thought Project joined forces to debut the Black Future Newsstand — a custom-built art installation — in the historically Black cultural outpost of Harlem. The team filled the newsstand’s shelves with publications and art that center Blackness, and invited people to contribute their visions for a future media via an exterior “Black Thought Wall.” One respondent wrote, “A media where we are treated as human beings, not props in someone else’s story. More stories of everyday, not only the exceptional, Black life.” In the days leading up to Juneteenth, the newsstand was featured at both The Africa Center and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s annual Literary Festival. The launch-week activities included a zine-making workshop led by Jen-White Johnson, where community members learned the art and history of Black liberation zines and got to create their own. The newsstand is on display at The Africa Center’s Teranga Café until July 31, and a documentary by filmmaker April September featuring behind-the-scenes interviews and footage from the project’s creation is in the works. Black Thought Project founder Alicia Walters facilitated the Black Future Newsstand, which was brought to life with an amazing group of co-creators including Free Press alum Alicia Bell and our Media 2070 team: Diamond Hardiman, Joseph Torres, Collette Watson and Venneikia. Learn more in Collette and Venneikia’s recap.