Aaron Eaton: Challenging newsroom power structures

The Constellation News Leadership Initiative is a career development fellowship to support mid-career media professionals of color. As the inaugural Constellation class completed its fellowship this spring, we asked each fellow to write an essay reflecting on their experience by answering the following questions: Based on what you have learned and seen in journalism, how do you think the field will evolve in the future? What role do you want to play in that transformation?

The field of journalism is currently going through a rebirth. The power structures of newsrooms across the country are starting to be challenged and the ancient archetypes of traditional and legacy newsrooms are being rewritten to become more equitable and inclusive for everyone.

Journalists are starting to reclaim their power collectively, speak up for themselves, and demand the changes that they want to see in their newsrooms. Newsrooms are finally starting to understand the importance of innovation and are placing emphasis on rethinking the way that we collect and deliver news. Now more than ever, the communities that we serve are holding journalists to a higher standard and aren’t afraid to challenge organizations that aren’t representing them correctly.

I’m happy to see the influx of a younger generation of journalists that have a passion and fearlessness that the industry as a whole hasn’t seen in a long time.

The profession of journalism isn’t perfect. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but great strides have been made in the last couple of years, and that must be acknowledged. If you are a young passionate BIPOC journalist, this is the perfect time for you to come in and make an immediate impact. The support is there, there are resources and networks at your disposal, and the industry is hungry for you and your perspective.

Personally, I want to continue to be an advocate for innovation by supporting ideas and people that will continue to push the industry, make things uncomfortable, and bend the rules. This is the only way local news will stay afloat and ultimately survive and thrive. We must explore new and creative ideas about how we tell stories, test new business models, and push individuals from non-traditional journalism backgrounds to step into the industry to provide their unique perspectives. I want to take my experience, pay it forward, and open doors for people that look like me and come from the same places that I come from.

The Constellation News Leadership Initiative was life changing for me. The program exposed me to so much information while providing support and professional development. In addition, I  was able to grow alongside a cohort of such inspiring and passionate newsmakers. This experience has given me confidence and a clear vision of where I see myself in the news ecosystem and how I can reach my goals and make an impact.

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