A View from the Field: Fighting for Liberation & Accountability
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.
- News Voices Director Vanessa Maria Graber gave a guest lecture at Columbia University on movement journalism and the racial reckoning in the media.
- Vice President of Cultural Strategy Collette Watson and Media 2070 Campaign Manager Venneikia Williams took part in a Donors of Color Network retreat in New Mexico. They gave a presentation about the Media 2070 project’s fight for media reparations for Black communities. 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones and legendary political activist and scholar Dr. Angela Davis served as the keynote speakers.
- Venneikia and Program Manager Diamond Hardiman spoke at the Skoll World Forum’s Ecosystem Event Day about the urgent need for media reparations.
- Diamond discussed media organizing during a virtual presentation at Colorado’s Empower Community High School. The conversation took place in coordination with YAASPA, a youth activist organization represented in Free Press’ Black Voices Working Group.
- Diamond also took part in the panel discussion “Racial Reckonings in Newsrooms” at the Reva & David Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting in Berkeley.
- During its April consortium meeting, members of the Media 2070 team premiered their documentary Black in the Newsroom. The film centers on Elizabeth Montgomery, a talented Black journalist who landed her dream job at The Arizona Republic — but ended up fighting a deep-rooted system of harm. Venneikia and Collette facilitated the conversation alongside Senior Director of Strategy and Engagement Joseph Torres and Free Press alum Alicia Bell.
- Senior Counsel and Director of Digital Justice and Civil Rights Nora Benavidez moderated a discussion with cybersecurity expert Jeff Kosseff about his book The United States of Anonymous. In it, Kosseff explores both the benefits and the harms of anonymous speech. The event was hosted by New America and Future Tense.
- Nora also moderated a discussion of the documentary The Social Dilemma, which examines the destructive impacts of social-media platforms like Facebook. The Wisconsin Union hosted the screening and conversation.
- Senior Director of Journalism Policy Mike Rispoli took part in the panel discussion “Statewide Policy Approaches to Sustaining and Strengthening Local and Ethnic Media,” which examined efforts to rebuild local media in California, which has lost a quarter of its newsrooms in the last 15 years. Mike discussed Free Press Action’s work to create the New Jersey Civic Info Consortium, which funds innovative news-and-information projects. California Common Cause and PEN America hosted this event.
- Mike testified before New Jersey’s Senate Budget Committee in support of Gov. Murphy’s proposal to double funding for the Civic Info Consortium. During his testimony, Mike highlighted the urgent need for ongoing support to address the state’s local-news crisis. “Study after study has shown that when local news declines or disappears, the effects on our democracy are profound,” he testified. “Fewer people vote, volunteer, run for public office or feel connected to their community.”
- The Media Power Collaborative, which Mike and Policy Fellow Sanjay Jolly lead, held a dream salon about how the media alternately help and hinder our nation from becoming a true multiracial democracy. The conversation is documented here.