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Recapping BEYOND, a three-day summit to build a collective vision of the future of journalism in Philadelphia

The virtual BEYOND summit featured three days of candid and transparent conversations about goals, accountability, and tangible plans for a more equitable future. During this gathering, we heard from journalists of color and community members about how journalism can rise to the present moment, learn about the roots and structures of systemic oppression and participate in design thinking sessions to vision of journalism that upends these systems.

Here’s a recap of our panel and sessions:

November 17: Defining our Purpose

Dr. Shakti Butler: Keynote Address

To kick off BEYOND, Dr. Shakti Butler, a leading speaker and trainer focusing on issues of racial equity, gave a keynote address to share how we might imagine and build a future for Philadelphia journalism that is healthier, more connected, and sustainable. Through Dr. Butler’s talk and subsequent small group work, we used radical imagination and collaboration to build pathways that shift our focus beyond “What is wrong with our current reality” to “What if we lived in ways that allow our imaginations to flourish and the future were filled with hope and possibility?” This keynote provided an opportunity to unpack this concept and prepare our community to design the future together.

Momentum: Journalists of Color Share How Journalism Can Meet this Moment

In this session, journalists of color shared the challenges they have faced in journalism and offer solutions that individuals and organizations can use to support and retain journalists of color, who are critical contributors to Philadelphia’s local news community. This discussion featured reflections from the following journalists, mixed with key data from industry-wide studies:

  • Sewell Chan, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor
  • Vanessa Maria Graber, Free Press News Voices: New Jersey manager
  • Priya Krishna, food writer
  • Perla Lara, Impacto Newspaper editor-in-chief
  • Carla Murphy, social justice journalist and editorial consultant
  • Ernest Owens, Philadelphia Magazine editor-at-large
  • Martin Reynolds, Maynard Institute for Journalism Education co-executive director

November 18: Understanding our Reality

Connect: Reframing Community Information Needs

This session focused on several Philadelphians navigating some of the greatest challenges our city is facing. ¡Presente! Media presented a documentary exploring city residents’  information needs and explored how journalism can rise to increase their agency. After the viewing, we had a panel discussion with community members sharing their needs and vision of Philadelphia journalism.

The Roots of Social Justice: Framing & Analysis of Systems & Structures

In order to assess the depth and complexity of the current state of equity in the journalism community nationally and here in Philadelphia, we need to understand our history and its impact on culture and identity. Framing provides people with the ability to clarify and co-locate the complex patterns and relationships that drive the persistence of societal marginality of BIPOC communities. Having the capacity to analyze the components of structures and other mechanisms that engender inequity is a precursor to change.

In this session, Dr. Butler led participants through an exploration of Western dominant culture and engaged people in systematic thinking exercises, which is crucial for either disrupting systems or building new systems.


November 19: Reconstructing the Future

Transparency: Conversations with News Executives on Equitable Transformation

This session was a panel discussion with several news executives of the region.

In this session the executives answered questions from the community, shared their plans to increase equity over the course of the next year at their organizations, and let the community know how we can best support them in this transformation. This session was moderated by KYW Newsradio Community Affairs Reporter Cherri Gregg. Participating panelists included:

  • Lisa Hughes, Philadelphia Inquirer Publisher and CEO
  • Gabriel Escobar, Philadelphia Inquirer Editor and Senior Vice President
  • Bernie Prazenica, 6abc President and General Manager
  • Tom Davis, 6abc Vice President of News
  • Bill Marrazzo, WHYY President and CEO
  • Sandra Clark, WHYY Vice President, News and Civic Dialogue
  • Cesar Aldama, NBC 10/Telemundo 62 News Operations Manager

Radical Imagination Workshop

In this workshop we took a deeper dive into radical imagination, with opportunities for participants to work in small groups to explore and expand on the ideas unleashed in Dr. Butler’s keynote. Participants worked together to imagine a new kind of journalism produced by a newsroom that works with a racial equity lens. We discussed how participants can apply these ideas at their organization, department, or desk  and shared a framework of how to begin to put it into practice.

Reclaiming Our Stories

To culminate the three days, this panel discussion featured leaders who are working in tandem with their community to share or tell Black stories through non-traditional means. This session was curated and moderated by Sofiya Ballin, creator/producer of Black History Untold. The session included:

  • Rasheed Ajamu, Black and Queer community organizer
  • Alicia Bell, Free Press Organizing Manager
  • Jeannine Cook, Harrietts Books owner
  • Feminista Jones, feminist writer and public speaker

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