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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

“Covering Elections in Solidarity” workshops bring together journalists, journalism educators

AP/John Minchillo

In a week that unexpectedly sandwiched the first presidential debate between a New York Times exposé of President Donald Trump’s tax returns and Trump announcing he had tested positive for covid-19, the Solidarity Journalism Initiative offered three workshops for journalists and journalism educators focused on improving election coverage.

These 75-minute virtual workshops were co-led by Anita Varma, PhD (assistant director of Journalism & Media Ethics as well as Social Sector Ethics) and Anoa J. Changa (electoral justice reporter for nonprofit news outlet Prism).

Each workshop consisted of four parts: first, participants were asked to reflect on their motivations for covering elections or teaching about election coverage. Then, Varma presented a brief synthesis of her research on a solidarity approach to election coverage, and Changa provided insights based on her firsthand experience with electoral justice reporting in solidarity with voters. Workshops concluded with time for Q&A.

“Solidarity journalism workshops always start with holding space for folks to reflect,” Varma noted. “In all of the chaos of 2020 for journalists and journalism educators, it can be hard to find time to really reflect on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”

Changa and Varma also provided participants with a resource document for further reading and examples of solidarity reporting.

Key takeaways from the workshops included: 

  • Solidarity reporting means centering the perspectives and experiences of people affected by disenfranchising conditions – for whom the stakes of elections are highest.

  • Elections are time-bound events, but political engagement is ongoing – and journalists should keep the bigger picture in mind when reporting on elections and voting (see related piece by Changa: “Voting is a means to an end, not the end goal”).
  • Solidarity framing helps move coverage beyond horse races and the strategic moves of elite candidates to offer a more accurate and comprehensive picture of politics.

Journalists and journalism educators from California, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Indiana, Georgia, Connecticut, and New York joined the workshops. Solidarity Journalism workshops will continue throughout 2020-2021.

 

Solidarity Journalism workshops for journalists and journalism educators are free to attend thanks to support from the Democracy Fund. If you are a reporter or member of a news organization and would like to participate in an upcoming virtual workshop on implementing solidarity approaches, please contact avarma2@scu.edu

Oct 5, 2020

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