I am a journalist. One of the mainstream media, if that is the name you choose. I go to rallies, marches, demonstrations, sit-ins — you name it, I cover it.
I am there because you are.
The causes you support, the tension and disruption are all means of facilitating discussion. So, talk to me. Tell me about it.
Why are you there? Why is this important to you? What can we do about it?
I understand that there is discomfort in knowing that what you say will be written down or plastered across screens. The recorders, the cameras, the notepads and the questions can all feel disconcerting.
However, coming out in support of a cause hopefully means there is a reason, a starting point for discussion. Talking about your positions gives you a chance to express your voice on a platform.
Here are a couple quick tips for talking with reporters:
I attend protests to report the news, not participate.
I do not want your name so I can humiliate you — it’s for accountability. And I will ask you about spelling, no matter how simple it may seem. Sorry.
I ask you questions not because I agree or disagree, but because it is my job.
Emotional appeals not based on facts are subject to scrutiny. It is a matter of credibility. If your cause is pushing something that has no basis in facts, it will be challenged — and rightfully so.
Protests are fundamentally emotional. They have aspects of showmanship. It is called a demonstration for a reason.
There is plenty of room for criticism for journalists covering demonstrations.
Are journalists covering sensitive protests fairly? Is coverage too dramatic or sensationalized? Whose voices are elevated above the others? These questions are all fair and reasonable.
Journalists must be held to a critical standard in portraying events and people.
Are we holding that platform level for all people? The quick answer is no, and we can do better. Call us out, ask us questions.
A journalist’s job is to inform the public. It is the public’s job to stay informed.
Danielle Prokop is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. The opinions in this column are her own. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ProkopDani.