Reporting Across The Divide
Telling the Stories of Race and Immigration
Data suggest Americans do not trust media; do not trust government; and do not trust each other. This crisis of trust seems to undermine the very foundation of our country. We cannot tackle the work of self-governance if we cannot agree on core tenets for gathering facts and adjudicating claims. A free, rigorous press has long helped the public to do this work on the most important issues. It was 1787 when Thomas Jefferson wrote "The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Reporting Across the Divide is an ambitious student journalism project. The program brings together students, professors, journalists and publications representing opposing ideological viewpoints. Together we learn, report, and write about race and immigration with the goal of understanding how our reporting changes when we are explicit about where we stand and purposeful about the goal of learning from one another.
Reporting Across the Divide asks can we generate quality reporting and trustworthy journalism when we are clear about where we stand and willing to learn from one another?
Traditionally academic and professional settings have taught young media professionals to ignore or suppress their personal viewpoints. We tend to believe if we make standpoints explicit, reporters will introduce bias to their work. This is part of why Americans believe quality journalism is free from perspective, worldview, or perspective. These expectations of presumably neutral reporting clash with the realities of the media workplace and marketplace, where the most compelling stories journalists report frequently engage the perspectives, identities, values, beliefs and professional mores of both reporter and audience.
Reporting Across the Divide seeks to make explicit, rather than to suppress, the ideological worldview of young journalists as they report on polarizing political stories. The goal is not to create editorial writers, but to train genuine journalists with strong professional skills rooted in long-held norms.
Reporting Across the Divide will choose a cohort of four to six student journalists with strong investigative, writing, and production skills. Half the cohort will self-identify as ideologically Conservative/ Right on the political spectrum and half will self-identify ideologically Liberal / Left on the political spectrum.
All students take part in training and meet with faculty and reporters throughout the school year. They will engage in regular trainings and have access to leading experts including journalists at both Rewire.News and the National Review.
Each student will choose one major story to trace through an in-depth reported piece engaging issues at the intersections of race and immigration. Within this storyline each student reporter will produce two (2) written pieces and 1 broadcast piece. Each piece will run on both National Review and Rewire.News if accepted for publication by editors. All student reporters will work collaboratively and with guidance of faculty and media professionals.
Anna Julia Cooper Center researchers are assessing student journalists and reporters throughout the project. A final report will be publicly available in Fall 2019.