Media for Social Justice:

Journalism + Activism + Technology

Our second annual Global Communication Summit will bring together journalists, activists, and students from Latin America and the United States to explore the complicated and evolving media-social movement relationship and to question to what extent journalists and activists can collaborate to take a stand and denounce injustice. 

The past five years have seen an increase in protest activity worldwide, yet most journalists have never specifically been trained in how to cover protesters or their causes. As a result, activists often are dissatisfied with the mainstream media’s movement coverage, criticizing it for demonizing protesters or ignoring the underlying reasons why protesters took to the streets in the first place. In an effort to bypass the media’s coverage and control the message, activists often create their own content—something that has become all the easier in this digital era, blurring the line between journalism and activism.

Journalists themselves also have begun to question traditional notions of objectivity, and contend that they have an ethical responsibility to take a stand for democracy and advocate for humanity, especially when it comes to issues like immigrants' rights or Black Live Matter. Traditional journalistic standards of journalism preached objectivity and the need to tell “ both” sides of the story, but increasingly journalists are debating the ethics and professionalism of acknowledging that not all sides are equally valid. Social media in particular have enabled journalists to express an activist stance, as what journalists publish on Twitter often is substantively different than what is published in traditional media. 

With this conference we will examine this growing trend of journalism activism and journalists as activists, questioning who benefits from upholding the division between the two and, more importantly, who might benefit from innovative approaches to protest coverage that respond to ethical imperatives first, not only informing citizens, but encouraging their political and social participation. In addition to a panel of journalists and activists from Latin America and the United States, we also will have an academic research panel, a workshop aimed at helping activists better produce their own content and interact with the media, and a screening of a documentary about immigrant rights.