Donnell Jackson: New voices will lead impactful and relatable journalism

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?

I believe the field of journalism will evolve as society evolves. If journalism does not change with the times, it will lose its power as a change agent. Based on what I have learned and am currently witnessing, I expect newsrooms to better reflect the voices of the diverse communities they serve and continue to find advanced ways to disseminate information to news consumers. 

We live in a diverse world. Acknowledging race, culture, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, economic status, and other characteristics of diversity have become more prevalent in society. It is important for newsrooms to stay ahead of this movement to ensure we are giving our diverse communities an equitable voice. One of the ways to ensure our community voices are being heard is to employ journalists who identify with and are members of these communities. These journalists are likely to have a better understanding of the issues facing these communities.

In the future, I expect more people of color to lead newsrooms, and I expect the composition of newsrooms to reflect more characteristics of diversity. Traditionally, minorities, in various aspects, have not had their stories told by people who are of the same community. However, as society reckons with the past while progressing toward a more inclusive future, new voices will lead discussions that result in impactful and relatable journalism.

We must also acknowledge journalism is being crafted and shared in more creative ways. The traditional media of print, radio, and television remain effective, however as technology evolves more tools are being created to make journalism more immediate and convenient for news consumers. The rise of the digital media from news websites to social media, to podcasts and news apps, forces newsrooms to create and share content on various platforms to ensure news consumers are being targeted in a timely and user-friendly manner. The journalism industry is aware of what needs to be done to remain relevant. However, I think one challenge for newsrooms is finding the necessary resources to create content that leads to sustainable revenue. 

As a newsroom leader, I am aware of the industry’s transformation, and I want to help lead a new era of journalism. To effectively do this, I must understand the composition of the community my newsroom serves and the content desired by news consumers. Additionally, I must employ and empower a diverse group of journalists who can create content for traditional and new media that brings beneficial change to communities and individuals, while maintaining journalistic standards and ethics. Finally, it is my hope that this supply of content mixed with the demand from news consumers leads to sustainable revenue for my news organization.

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