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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Solidarity Journalism Initiative Expands as Journalists Confront Systemic Issues in News Industry

Anita Varma

Anita Varma

Anita Varma, PhD leads the Solidarity Journalism initiative at the Markkula Center

Since protests for racial justice surged in June 2020, a national discussion has followed about the role of journalism and journalists, with debates about journalistic objectivity, neutrality, and moral commitments. Solidarity Journalism, a Journalism & Media Ethics initiative led by assistant director Anita Varma, PhD, has received increased attention and interest from news organizations across the country.

“We held five workshops in the first week of June, and both attendance and engagement exceeded my highest expectations,” Varma explained. “It has been gratifying to see members and critics of journalism engage with issues of social injustice that journalism has both scaffolded and challenged over the years.”

In addition to workshops, Varma was recently featured in a Q&A with the Humanitarian News Research Network, two episodes of the News in Context podcast, and published a solo-authored peer-reviewed study of solidarity in journalism on Bay Area homelessness in the journal Journalism Studies. In April, CNN’s Brian Stelter featured Varma’s work on solidarity in covid-19 coverage in a section of the Reliable Sources newsletter and a separate story on cnn.com.  

“My scholarly work on solidarity in journalism began in 2014 when I was a doctoral student at Stanford University. The Markkula Center’s support for making this work actionable for practitioners has been invaluable,” Varma said. “The time for greater solidarity in journalism on marginalized communities is now.”

The Solidarity Journalism initiative is currently planning workshops to help journalists cover the upcoming 2020 election with a focus on communities affected by major wedge issues.

If you are a journalist, journalism educator, or editor and interested in participating, please email avarma2@scu.edu.

Jul 21, 2020

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