Reclaiming Journalism: Dream Defenders And NewsOne Announce Partnership For Media Justice

Dream Defenders x NewsOne

Source: iOne Digital Creative Services

In a discussion about the partnership between NewsOne and the Dream Defenders which launches today, Marjua Estevez, the organization’s public relations manager and a seasoned journalist whose op-ed appears below, brought up mainstream media’s guise of neutrality. Of course, we who have worked in media for any length of time and we who have been the victims of American media who are still unwilling to use corrective lenses to reduce race-based myopia know that claim to be a lie.

Rotten from the head

The widely acknowledged paper of record, the New York Times, has repeatedly been challenged for its biased and non-factually based coverage — especially on race. There was the protection afforded 45-year Times vet, Donald McNeill, who not only used the N-word over and over during his 2019 role as the expert guide for a Times-sponsored high school student overseas trip but also refused to apologize. Two years later, the paper terminated the relationship with McNeill, but only because 150 staff members signed a letter of complaint about him still being on the job. It makes one wonder what his POV was on any science stories he led — or the POV of his editors and multiple others who may be less crass about their racism.

MORE: Still On The Journey: The Women Who Are Defending Black America’s Freedom Dream

And then there’s the 2020 racist call to violence. The paper published an op-ed by MAGA-shill, Senator Tom Cotton, that called for “an overwhelming show of [military] force” against the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s horrendous murder. Worse than even publishing a piece that called for military force against people who were exercising Constitutionally protected rights, the MAGA-shill included claims in his oped about protesters that the paper knew to be false; they’d debunked the very lies Cotton included earlier that week! But the editor of the section, James Bennet and likely next line to become executive editor of the entire paper, chose not to read the Cotton piece before someone hit publish. And he may never have read it without some 500 Times staffers sending a letter to management with two clear messages: this is beneath any reasonable definition of basic journalism and Black lives were endangered, specifically because of Cotton’s call to arms. That may have been ignored, but not the loss of subscribers who left in numbers previously unseen by the Times.

What five Black boys’ lives were worth to the New York Times

For me, mistrust took shape decades before, back when I saw the Trump ad calling for the death penalty’s return to New York after a white woman, a jogger, was brutally physically and sexually assaulted in 1989. The injuries foisted upon her woman were so grievous, that when their details were made public and picked up across all media outlets, (unlike a very similar grievous assault against a Black woman roughly three weeks later), what little investigation that some police sometimes did, was flushed down the toilet.

They snatched up five Black boys, four of whom had been in Central Park that day. The fifth boy was just a friend who didn’t want his buddy to go to the precinct alone. He was arrested for the crime just the same and all were interrogated without the presence of attorneys or parents. Confessions were coerced from four of the terrified five minors, two of whom were just 14. In my own view, Trump has always been and will always be a violent, vulgar racist. But the paper of record was supposed to be neutral. Fair. But for $85,000, they traded away the lives of five Black boys, not just by agreeing to publish the ad, but to do so pretrial thereby contributing to the near complete toxicity of the jury pool. All five of those innocent teenagers were found guilty and for well more than a decade, were forced to survive prison as kids who had to wear one of the worst jackets amongst those worn by prisoners.

Central Park 5 "Gate Of The Exonerated" Unveiled In Harlem

Councilman Yusef Salaam in 2023 with two other members of the Exonerated Central Park Five. | Source: Johnny Nunez / Getty

These examples, disgusting and life-altering as they were, don’t even chart as a 10th of a single percentage point when assessing an accurate quantification of American media’s racism. They wouldn’t even chart if one only studied the Times’ racism, including flat-out lies over all of its 173-year “storied history.” The commitment to virulent white supremacist framing on whatever platforms of the day gave rise to Black-owned and run media, which by and large has been wiped out by now.

But NewsOne, where the majority shareholders are still Black, knew we had to do more than report the story of the day through a Black lens. We had to excavate the stories that were not being widely told, if they were told at all.

In pursuit of that greater knowing, an idea took shape in Kirsten West Savali’s mind. West Savali serves as iOne Digital’s Senior Vice President of digital content and with her push, the questions were asked: What is happening in our communities that we’re not hearing about? Who is best to help us find those answers. For Kirsten, the vision was clear. We had to openly engage people from our own communities who also were committed to service, truth, justice, safety and equity in Black neighborhoods every single day.

We would not be where we are today, at this moment in the movement for Black liberation, had it not been for the revolutionary work of the Dream Defenders. This organization galvanized thousands of people after vigilante George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin. In fact, they were instrumental to him being charged in the first place,” West Savali said in a statement. “The work the Dream Defenders put in for us—defending our dreams for our children, our brothers and sisters, our communities, and ourselves—should never be forgotten. And Black media has the great responsibility and honor to pass the mic to the freedom fighters moving in the Black tradition of resistance, revolution, and reimagining a more just world.”

Wouldn’t Take Nothing for the Journey

We are deeply proud then, to announce a newly formed partnership between NewsOne and the Dream Defenders, an organization that launched itself into the national consciousness after Trayvon Martin was set upon and killed by an armed and oversized assailant in 2012. And we begin our partnership by publishing Still On The Journey by Marjua Estevez, with video profiles of seven Dream Defender members being rolled out subsequently. And finally, we open in a moment that couldn’t be more urgent.

Across the country, young people have been standing up against the United States’ funding of genocide–and being attacked by academic administrators, police and the media for exercising their First Amendment rights. Protest generally has been under threat given the makeup of the current Supreme Court and the anti-human rights and anti-constitutional legislation being passed regularly in statehouses. But their hate is not and never will be greater than the love that lives inside the hearts, minds and spirits of those who believe in freedom. The Dream Defenders live along a continuum of a freedom journey that in the modern age was launched by sheroes and heroes of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.

It’s a journey first envisioned and charted by the first people to be kidnapped and tortured during the 500-year-long African Holocaust that began in 1444 in Senegambia. And it’s a journey the Dream Defenders now undertake.

At NewsOne, we are honored to place our name beside theirs.


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The post Reclaiming Journalism: Dream Defenders And NewsOne Announce Partnership For Media Justice appeared first on NewsOne.

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