Whose stories?

  1. We have moved from one type of totalizing narrative (the narrative of European progress) to another type of totalizing narrative (the narrative of suffering and exploitation). These swings exacerbate polarization and deepen division.
  2. The history of the entire world sits in a virtual archive that is more huge and more comprehensive than we can imagine. Yet, it is woefully incomplete and, for many people, it reflects a historically pervasive viewpoint and voice.
  3. An archive comprises and preserves the world’s stories. But, if stories are left out (or edited out), there is archival silence. Black stories, women’s stories and stories of non-white people are excluded in far larger numbers. When what is left out is traumatic to those involved — for example, the effect on Black citizens of the Jim Crow laws in the United States, the horrors of the Holocaust and the persistent racism experienced by the world’s Jews, the suppressed and ignored story of the Windrush generation in the UK, the hideous scars from apartheid in South Africa — the failure to even acknowledge the suffering and pain increases the suffering and pain.
  4. There is a belief, pronounced among conservative-leaning audiences, that society has developed an obsession with race, gender, sex and sexuality, and that these forms of identity are becoming the only filters through which stories are seen or told. To those who believe this is indeed an obsession, this is a key driver in wokeism.
  5. Activism is believed to be replacing the role of journalism in an increasing number of traditional media outlets.
  6. In many ways, history is an art rather than a science. Yes, there are key dates and facts and figures, but history itself is in a constant state of being reviewed and revised. It is imperative that journalists focus attention on systemic injustices and the inequalities that result rather than the endless back-and-forth of the politics of left vs. right.
  7. At the same time, facts matter. Deeply. As John Adams, one of America’s founding fathers, once famously said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
  8. Language is vital. On all sides of the spectrum (left, center, right), there are words and phrases that are being “normalized” by media’s use, misuse and overuse.
  9. Newsrooms express commitment to diversity. Most of our guests believe the conviction is real, but wonder whether there is enough understanding of the true meaning of diversity. It is not merely an exercise in hiring Black and/or female journalists.
  10. Diversity must be defined more broadly to include people with disabilities, people who attended schools other than Oxford or Harvard, people who identify as right of center, people who identify as left of center, people with strongly held religious beliefs, people who do not believe in God and identify as atheists. And much, much more.

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