The following is the opinion of the Emerald’s Editorial Board and not Emerald Media Group as a whole. The Editorial Board exists to provide the newsroom a voice on prominent campus issues. It operates separately from the work of Emerald reporters, giving the organization a platform to create and continue a dialogue on campus.
In this editorial, we speak about our shortcomings as a newsroom when covering the Black community, and our first failing is that our Editorial Board has no Black members. That means, while the Editorial Board strives to serve as a platform for discussion in our community, it does not yet fully represent that community.
Black lives matter. The Daily Emerald Editorial Board stands in support of anti-racism and the movement against police brutality and white supremacy.
At the same time, the Emerald needs to acknowledge its own failures as a newsroom to support and represent Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Our newsroom is overwhelmingly white and has failed to adequately cover issues that disproportionately hurt BIPOC, such as police brutality, white supremacy and the racist criminal justice system.
We have covered the protests in response to the racist criminal justice system’s killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery — but we should have been doing more.
We have not covered the centuries of racist systems which led to their deaths.
Journalists are taught to remain objective in all cases. We learn to avoid injecting our own opinions into the stories we report on, from the investigations we conduct to the questions we ask. We bend over backward to include opposing views — sometimes to a fault.
But historically, the ideal of journalistic “objectivity” has perpetuated white supremacy by framing the white, male, cisgender and heterosexual experience as neutral and all other identities as deviating from the norm. However, it is our duty as journalists to oppose and dismantle that misconception. Journalists need to recognize the role of personal experience in reporting while striving for nuance, balance and clarity in reporting.
There are no “two sides” to the question of whether Black lives matter.
The Emerald has taken steps this year to increase our inclusivity, including the advent of the Emerald Trust Project. As part of the project, we’ve invited people to meet with reporters and discuss our coverage, as well as actively performing outreach to student groups underrepresented in the newsroom.
These were important first steps. But we can do more.
As journalists, it is our job to uphold democracy, be critical of those in power and amplify the voices of those whom the mainstream press has ignored. It is our job to illuminate egregious acts of racial injustice and the systems that abet them.
As Eugenians continue to demonstrate their outrage against police brutality and white supremacy, the Emerald will continue to send journalists to report on protests. We will respect people’s pain and make every effort to minimize harm with our coverage.
As we move forward, the Emerald will continue to speak truth to power and hold those in power to account. The Editorial Board will no longer remain silent in calling out the suffering of BIPOC in our community.
We should have released a statement in solidarity earlier. It shouldn’t have taken this many deaths before the Editorial Board took a stand in support of Black lives.
The Emerald can and will do better. We commit to:
- Conduct a rigorous census of the newsroom and publish the results during fall term.
- Increase management outreach to campus community members to increase the number of Black, Indigenous and People of Color on staff.
- Dedicate greater time and resources to cover racial disparities in our community and teach anti-racism.
- Use the word “racist” in our reporting and avoid ambiguous phrases such as “racially charged,” “racially tinged” and “racially laced.”
- Cover marginalized communities with the complexity and humanity they deserve — not just when tragedy strikes.
- Fact-check police sources as thoroughly as any other source.
- Use our platform to amplify Black and Brown voices in demanding change from UO and the City of Eugene.
- Create a style guide for covering protests in a more responsible way.
- Publish, this month, another editorial calling on UO, the City of Eugene and the Eugene Police Department to make the immediate changes community members are demanding.
We invite you to take part in this process. You can email Ryan Nguyen, our incoming editor in chief for the 2020-21 school year, at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, comments, concerns or actions you’d like to see us take.
You can add your voice to the pages of the Emerald by emailing a letter to the editor to email@example.com.
Or, better yet, you can add your voice to the newsroom by applying for open positions at www.dailyemerald.com/apply.
Our society’s institutions must change — and the press should emphatically embrace that change.