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Documenting An Uprising

The killing of George Floyd on May 25th prompted historic protests across the US against police violence, systemic racism, and a culture of white supremacy. Local journalists continue to document and report on daily marches, despite the threats and violence they’ve experienced while out in their own streets covering protests.

This month we’re turning our newsletter over to our partners to share what they’re seeing and hearing as they cover the impact of these protests on their communities.

Photo Credit: Daniel Robles 

uSpark, Fresno, CA 

By Sergio Cortes, a community correspondent for uSpark, a Fresno based news outlet

Fresno saw 3,500+ people attend The We Can't Breathe protest on Sunday, May 31. Most of the local media emphasis was on the fact that the protest was peaceful. But we felt like that wasn’t the main take away from the event. Local Black leaders listed a series of demands they want implemented by city leaders and the Fresno Police departments. Those demands resonated with the crowd. I saw a lack of coverage about those specific demands and what they meant for the community. As a community based news organization, I thought it would be important to highlight the demands made by the Black leaders in a visual and informative way.

Sahan Journal, Minneapolis, MN

With funds raised from family and friends, sisters Fadumo and Hanaan Osman purchased supplies on June 2, 2020 for Minneapolis residents affected by the protests against the killing of George Floyd. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

By Mukhtar M. Ibrahim, founder of Sahan Journal, a Twin Cities based non-profit news outlet

George Floyd's killing first appeared on my Twitter timeline around 2 a.m. on May 26. I believe I was the first journalist to share a bystander's cellphone video that showed how Floyd was killed. Ever since, leading Sahan Journal’s coverage of the killing and the protests that ensued was a learning experience for me. 

From the beginning, we decided to focus on covering this historic sad moment from different unique perspectives and angles since most local media was taking care of the latest developments about the case. When I went out to cover the protests and to connect with sources on the ground, what stood out to me was the diversity of the crowd, especially the number of young Somalis who were becoming more visible at the protests. The damage of immigrant-owned businesses along Lake Street was heartbreaking to witness. 

The lack of diversity among reporters covering the protests was noticeable. Our stories about the aftermath of Floyd's killing was entirely centered on community voices: We reported on how witnessing destruction and killing is provoking trauma in immigrants and refugees, many of whom endured similar incidents prior to coming to the United States. One story explored how Lake Street business owners have formed their own night patrols. Another one detailed how some Asian Minnesotans felt targeted for officer Tou Thao’s role in the killing of Floyd. We reported on La Raza radio, a key source of information for Latinos in the Twin Cities, as it quickly relaunched days after burning down during the protests by using the space of community radio station KFAI.

Lede New Orleans, LA

By Victoria Clark, a Spring 2020 Lede New Orleans Fellow. Lede New Orleans is a journalism initiative that brings local young adults, journalists and creatives together to produce equitable media. Clark hopes to become a print journalist with a focus on writing about people and stories from the Black community.

I didn’t cry when I first watched the video of the white Minneapolis police officer’s knee on George Floyd’s neck, ultimately killing Floyd. I instead felt anger like many of my peers. Even so, when I heard that there would be a march in honor of him in my hometown of Baton Rouge, La., I was unsure of where I stood at first.

On May 31 at 2 p.m. I joined in the protest march to the state capitol building in Baton Rouge. I not only joined the protest to advocate for people who look like me, but also, I’ll admit, to see if the Black community—my community—was alone in its fight for justice. For once, I found we weren’t. There were posters raised by people of all different shades as the crowd shouted “No justice, no peace” and “We won’t be divided, we will stand united.” Once we got to the state capitol, the crowd gathered peacefully and listened to the organizers, including Mia Spears, Colleen Temple, Myra Richardson, and Noah Hawkings, explain that change can be made through accountability and unity. They called on our justice system to hold police officers accountable, including a second-degree murder charge for Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. One of more powerful parts of the march for me was when the crowd raised their fists in solidarity with one another after a moment of silence. It made me feel like there was shared understanding, one that stretched across races. 

-Read Victoria Clark’s full essay here

Capital Public Radio, Sacramento, CA

By Jesikah Maria Ross, Senior Community Engagement Strategist of Capital Public Radio, a radio station in Sacramento, CA 

How thoughtfully and comprehensively media organizations cover big events like the recent protests is often a reflection of how much time they spend listening to their communities when the sirens are not blaring. Our frequent collaborator Jesikah Maria Ross of Capital Public Radio spent the past year and a half listening to Meadowview, a Sacramento neighborhood that caught national attention when resident Stephon Clark was shot and killed by police in 2018. Here is her reflection: 

In the year and a half that we spent reporting in and with Meadowview, we developed a lot of solid relationships with African American leaders and organizations around Sacramento. So when these protests started, we had existing relationships we could rely on, and could quickly and easily connect with those leaders to gather their insights for our reporting as well as book them on our morning and afternoon talk shows. We also hosted Facebook live events, including one with Stevante Clark, Stephon’s younger brother. 

I also saw a shift in the dynamic of our newsroom conversations because a few of us have now spent a good amount of time in the African American communities most impacted here in Sacramento. And though nobody on our news team is Black, I do think the time spent in Meadowview helps us ask different questions, look for a wider range of perspectives, push back on each other when warranted, and have a much bigger rolodex of folks to reach out to.
Conecta Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

By Maritza Felix, head of  the bilingual Conecta Arizona media outlet. She shared her thoughts on protests in Phoenix, Arizona in an essay

Pienso en George Floyd y en los otras tantas víctimas de las injusticias, que no tienen ni tumbas ni cruces ni funerales. Pienso en los niños enjaulados. Pienso en las madres migrantes torturadas. Pienso José de Jesús. Pienso en las risas sarcáticas del privilegio blanco. Pienso en Envin. Pienso en una melena rubia despeinada al aire. Pienso en los que han sido asesinados, detenidos, deportados, abusados, pisoteados en silencio. Pienso en blanco y negro y la eterna escala de pieles café en medio. Pienso en los míos y no sé qué es lo que me da más miedo.

Si me los hubieran matado, lo incendiaría todo. Si me los hubieran asfixiado, no me callarían ni muerta. Si me los hubieran asesinado, no tendría la mesura de marchar en silencio. Si me los hubieran arrancado, no tendría paz. Si me los hubieran dejado… tampoco.

TRANSLATION 

I think about George Floyd and the other victims of injustices, who do not have graves, or crossings, or funerals. I think about the encaged children. I think about the migrant mothers who have been tortured. I think about Jose de Jesus. I think about the sarcastic laughs of white privilege. I think about Envin. I think about blonde unkempt hair in the air. I think about those who have been killed, detained, deported, abused, shot down in silence. I think about white and black and the infinite range of brown skins in the middle. I think about mine and I don’t know what I am more afraid of. 

If they had killed them, I would burn everything. If they had suffocated them, I would not stay quiet. If they had killed them, I would not resist and march silent. If they had torn us apart, I would not have peace. Even if this didn't happen to me I still would. 

Photo Credit: Andrew Washington, Local Photographer 
NOISE, Omaha NE 
Watch Video

By Dawaune Hayes, founder and director of NOISE

NOISE has been providing extensive coverage of the protests in Omaha, from the frontlines of the city council hearing room to nearly everything in between. Deeply intertwined in the community, NOISE has been publishing across social media and on their website along with informing the community with text alerts. But their work is well beyond just information; NOISE has been listening and amplifying voices in the community during this transformative time when “power to the people” is reality.

RESOURCES FOR JOURNALISTS
Movement 4 Black Lives and Free Press teamed up to publish a vital new reporting guide, Journalism for Black Lives. “One major truth is that the U.S. media system has historically functioned as an arm of the broader system of racial oppression. To disrupt that status quo, avoid compounding the harm, and to create a future where communities care to support journalism, it’s critical for journalists to report in a way that is grounded in Black dignity, humanity and quality of life.” Click through to read important tips and resources on relationship-building, engagement and framing.
 
There is a lot of misinformation swirling online around the protests, here are guides for online verification and news gathering form First Draft News. 
 
Protecting ones identity is very important. This is a great resource that allows people to have privacy while interacting on social media platforms. 
 
Protests are occurring all over the world. This resource has some tips on how to safely prepare for a protest. What to bring, what to wear, and how to react to specific situations. 
 
We also love this guide to ethical reporting on police violence and black led resistance. This guide also helps you prepare your cell phones and your cyber security for covering protests. 
"Give Help, Get Help” Small Grant Announcement 
 
In other news, Listening Post Collective recently launched a new fund called Give Help, Get Help to help facilitate skills sharing and collaboration between nine of our local media partners across the country.

Partners will assist one another with everything from setting up successful WhatsApp news groups, to reporting techniques, to social media design, to video production. This process will establish mentorship and peer networks that will serve them long into the future.This fund was made possible with support from the Democracy Fund, News Integrity Initiative, CLEF, and the James Irvine Foundation. You can read more about this work here
Our Commitment
 
We want to close this newsletter by publicly joining the call for racial justice and change. As people continue to take to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others, we know that we too must do the work to commit to building an anti-racist, justice seeking Collective. Black lives matter and we stand with the Black community and commit to doing the work to ensure that our organization, our staff, and our programs stand for and reflect racial justice and equity. We also commit to transparency. We have ongoing hard discussions within our own organization about actions that we must take to address systemic racism and bring anti-racist practices into all aspects of our work. We will keep our community updated as this vital work continues.
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The Listening Post Collective provides journalists, newsroom leaders, and non-profits tools and advice to create meaningful conversations with their communities. We believe responsible reporting begins with listening. From there, media outlets and community organizations can create news stories that respond to people’s informational needs, reflect their lives, and enable them to make informed decisions.
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