“What are we going to get out of this?”
I am both a little afraid of and in total agreement with this question.
As a journalist who covers social justice, poverty, inequality, and violence, I am constantly asking myself that question: What purpose does this work serve?
The noble answer, of course, is that knowledge is power, and a platform for visibility strengthens the disadvantaged. That shining a light on injustice brings truth and accountability.
But what if it just brings clicks and “likes?”
Today I was asked that question.
“What are we going to get out of this? What purpose do these cameras and interviews serve when at the end of the day I go home and have no food on my table? How does it help me that a foreigner knows my story, when I have a gun in my face when I get home? What are you going to do for me?”
There has been violence in Choco for decades. How many journalists must they recite their histories to before there is real change?
I don’t have an answer. All I can do is bear it in mind and ask myself the same questions every day.
Are you moving the narrative forward? How do you make sure you’re not reducing these stories to one-dimensional poverty tourism and misery porn? How do you make sure your “characters” are more than just a tool? Are you getting their story right?