March 30, 2022

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I spent last week mostly unplugged on a spring break vacation to Spain, the biggest trip I’d taken since the Before Times. It was lovely and I hope wherever you are, your spring break has been just as restful and rejuvenating (and maybe even included some tapas).

Since I returned to the real world and my email inbox, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Here are a few things I’ve enjoyed as I’ve caught up.

‘Green flags’ to help you find a healthy workplace

Alice Wilder’s newsletter Starting Out is a must-read for early-career audio journalists. In the most recent issue, she compiled a resource guide for screening potential workplaces to see if they’re a good fit for you. “Remember: the job search is a two-way street,” she writes.

The gist: Be a reporter and do your research into your potential employer. A few “green flags” (aka positive signs) from Alice that apply to any newsroom, not just audio:

  • Your potential employer is upfront about pay and clear about the hiring timeline.
  • Many people at the company have been there for years and have been promoted.
  • The company has a union, which can mean additional pay, benefits and job security.
  • Interviewers are engaged and have read your resume and cover letter.

Lessons from legislating student press freedom

It took eight years for New Jersey to pass a New Voices law protecting student press freedom. Two advisers who spearheaded the effort reflected on the process and what they learned for the Student Press Law Center.

The Student Press Law Center has a wealth of information if you want to get involved in protecting the rights of student journalists in your state. Learn more here.

What AP journalists saw in Mariupol

This firsthand account from Associated Press journalists in Mariupol, Ukraine, was one of the only things I read while on vacation, because I couldn’t put it down once I’d started. It is powerful and chilling and a reminder of just how crucial good journalism is.

Mstyslav Chernov writes:

The absence of information in a blockade accomplishes two goals.

Chaos is the first. People don’t know what’s going on, and they panic. At first I couldn’t understand why Mariupol fell apart so quickly. Now I know it was because of the lack of communication.

Impunity is the second goal. With no information coming out of a city, no pictures of demolished buildings and dying children, the Russian forces could do whatever they wanted. If not for us, there would be nothing.

That’s why we took such risks to be able to send the world what we saw, and that’s what made Russia angry enough to hunt us down.

I have never, ever felt that breaking the silence was so important.

Set your sources up for success

Setting expectations and being transparent is essential for building trust with sources, particularly those who aren’t accustomed to talking with journalists. NPR Training has a helpful guide for explaining the reporting process to sources, with this one guiding principle: “When it comes to transparency, it will always be better to say more than you need to, rather than not say enough.”

Revisiting past coverage, with an apology

My own workplace, The Seattle Times, examined its past coverage of the 1942 removals of Japanese Americans from their homes on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The paper collaborated with a local Japanese American history organization to solicit feedback and do additional research into the incarcerations.

The team that reexamined our past stories found slurs used in headlines and stories, racist stereotypes and inaccurate, one-sided sourcing. They annotated the pages and explained what decisions we would make differently today.

“We are deeply sorry for our harmful coverage of the incarceration of Japanese Americans and for the pain we caused in the past that still reverberates today,” our executive editor Michele Matassa Flores writes. “We are still learning hard lessons. We acknowledge the power we have, and the need to wield it responsibly.”

One step toward inclusive coverage

Avoiding gendered language in reporting is one step journalists can take to make their coverage more inclusive, Liana DeMasi writes for The Objective. When writing about pregnancy and medical treatment, it’s important to use gender-inclusive language (i.e. “pregnant people,” not “pregnant women”), but that’s not the only step. Diversifying your sources and including trans and nonbinary voices will also help ensure more inclusive coverage.

“Because good reporting can provide encompassing and long-lasting knowledge on a topic, journalists have the power to not only report facts, but shift social, political, and economic discourse, making the language they use fraught with purpose,” DeMasi writes.

Opportunities and trainings

💌 Last week’s newsletter: Digital flexibility and mental health setbacks in a work-from-home world

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Taylor Blatchford is a journalist at The Seattle Times who independently writes The Lead, a newsletter for student journalists. She can be reached at…
Taylor Blatchford

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