On Sunday, October 19, we were in the studio preparing to go live with our Occupation & Resistance show. I was engineering for the first time, so I was geeked out trying to figure out which switches I should be pushing and in which order. However, while our hosts Mohammed Jaber and Maya Quiñones were practicing script delivery, our production coordinator, George Luna-Peña, said something that really took my mind off my nervousness. It was something that I had been thinking about all week.
Whether it be Josh Ruebner’s reading for his book Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace or the Indigenous Peoples Tour of UNM, these events were not covered by mainstream media outlets. Ruebner’s reading was only mentioned in a 2 paragraph news brief in the Albuquerque Journal. The only articles I could find about the Indigenous Peoples Tour was on La Jicarita and the Daily Lobo. George reminded us that we had a special opportunity to be the outlet to shed light on these stories. We had the honor to do so.
When Pauly, Chantel, and I had gone out onto campus with a certain beat to cover, we had come across the Indigenous Peoples Tour and decided that they were the voices we wanted to capture. We wanted to hear their stories – and so we grabbed our microphones and cameras and went for it.
We followed the Indigenous Peoples Tour throughout UNM Campus as they chanted and stopped periodically to share information about how UNM is a racist institution – historically, subtly, and blatantly as well. I learned about the symbolism of the Spanish conquistador and the Anglo frontiersman on the UNM seal, both holding weapons. I had never realized the connotation of that, regardless of how obvious and how often I have seen the seal myself. How did this not make the news? This was the kind of information that our community needs to be exposed to.
I could say the same for the Josh Ruebner reading. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable about the U.S.-Israeli relationship, but his book captures how the U.S. acts behind-the-scenes to cover up Israeli war crimes that we fund. His book has so much potential to uncover these truths that we can’t find in other media outlets.
When Josh Ruebner brought up Chelsea Manning and Wikileaks during our interview with him, I had a realization: not only were injustices being continuously covered up, but the injustices themselves were continuously happening. I remember the first time I typed the WikiLeaks URL. I was in high school, reading about Julian Assange, and speculating on how the information they provided could receive such critique. I was beginning to understand that certain types of information that were not presentable, and therefore they were not acceptable. I hadn’t really made the connection about credibility and censorship, and that the media would be quick to discredit “threatening” information. Therefore, reading Wikileaks, I could not even believe it was real. I was reading the Iraq War logs in disbelief until I finally clicked “play” on a video that really opened my mind to the injustices in the world. These injustices had already been so successfully covered-up that I had a hard time comprehending what I was seeing in the videos. Not only that, but these injustices were meant to be kept classified. The notion of media censorship had seemed only like a conspiracy to me, until that point. I had it at my fingertips. Now, my fingers are creating that media.
We know that humans and their experiences are limitless, so it’s strange to think that many media outlets set limits on “sources,” and only let certain voices speak on their programs. These voices don’t reflect our communities, and they don’t reflect our humanity. Journalism isn’t about an obsession with the media, it’s about recognizing that the media is a window to the realities we face. This is why we are fighting for media reform. The media, overflowing with marquee headlines and statistics, still manages to fail us. The media is at work 24/7 and yet it is still difficult to actually find the truth. Not only that, but these stories that aren’t covered are piling up. The truths that are revealed are not getting the exposure they deserve. The brave ones who expose these truths are putting their own credibility on the line, and sometimes their own safety.
I really love our work here at Generation Justice because we honor the lives and stories of those around us. We write about the passionate truths. We reflect. We open our minds. I’m thankful that we do not hide. We try and tune in with the soul of journalism – and we try to do so with a sense of hope. We are very conscious of the mediascape that we inhabit and create, and of the power of the media to shape thoughts and actions. The truth is, media should be rooted in trust, equity, and empowerment.