I Left Journalism Because It Had a Problem with Race. I Came Back to Change It

I left journalism 12 years ago, one of many “leavers” who had become disenchanted with the industry. I came back four years ago to join the Institute for Nonprofit News as its Chief Knowledge Officer in charge of programming and events that help INN members learn from experts and from each other as nonprofit news leaders. I was excited to see journalism presented as a public service — a different kind of journalism that is intentional about serving everyone, not just the information needs of the few. I was excited to see that, with that framework of journalism, there were a growing number of news entrepreneurs looking to do journalism in a new way — to not repeat the mistakes of legacy media, especially the mistake of ignoring or misrepresenting communities of color. That year, when I went to present at my first INN Days, the conference was just as white as when I left eight years before.

Mother Jones: Legacy news magazine follows the readers to digital growth and nonprofit donor support

Case study co-published by Institute for Nonprofit News and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. The PDF version from INN can be downloaded here and was designed by Elizabeth Scott. For five takeaway tips from this case study, click here. In February 2012, the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones published a seemingly ordinary story that would prove to change its fate. The story profiled a Republican donor, Frank VanderSloot, and among other things, his treatment of a gay journalist.