ONA18: Lessons From Black Twitter: Inclusive Reporting in Diverse Communites

location_onJW Marriott Austin, Austin, Texas
ONA18 is the Online News Association's Annual Conference for the journalism industry. Session: Lessons from Black Twitter: Inclusive Reporting in Diverse Communites "A Knight Foundation analysis of interactions between Twitter۪s Black, Feminist and Asian-American subcultures and the news media that cover them shows well-placed mistrust, cynical story mining and ambivalent engagement. We۪''ll unpack why this happens with an eye toward making news more representative and accurate." This session is designed for: -- Journalists covering underserved or difficult to reach communities -- Organizations looking to improve engagement and build positive feedback loops -- Anyone who wants to understand how communities develop and establish a voice in the online space

Panelists Paul Cheung, Meredith Clark, Nisha Chittal, and Anusha Alikhan

Social handles for the panelists #ONA18 #ONA18Inclusion

Key findings from the Knight Foundation report (kng.ht/twittermedia) -- Journalists uses Twitter as a story source -- Underrepresented communities distrust the media and don't like having their tweets harvested for articles without their permission (fear of harrassment) -- Likes don't equal favorability
"People want you to talk to them like they are human beings," says Meredith Clark, especially in these misrepresented or underrepresented communities.
People want journalists to get context on their community and stories when you are covering them, understand their history, and then follow up afterwards - let them know where the reporting is going/went, says Meredith Clark.
Asian Twitter and Black Twitter do not represent those entire communites, they are slices of a community, says Paul Cheung. "Do not confuse easy access to a community to trust." "Don't fetishize these communities, don't parachute in and take their perspective to check a box. Participate and get to know people in these communities first."
Don't confuse engagement numbers (likes, comments, RTs) as success or positive results, says Nisha Chittal. Read the comments to understand and don't get defensive. You can learn from listening to your audience and criticism.
For so long the default perspective and initial reporting procedures was white and male. White men have race and gender, which means they have a perspective, we have to think beyond our own experiences and reflect the perspectives of the diverse world we live in. Says Nisha Chittal, and Anusha Alikhan. Meredith Clark agrees, "we all color the stories we tell based on our own experiences and background." "Talking to people in the community while you're writing your story (floating questions on Twitter) will help you address blind spots you may have." Paul Cheung weighs in, "We get paid to be curious. Look at your social feed, are you following people who reflect the community you are covering? Where are the people of color in your Instagram feed?"
Meredith Clark, "we want people to be literate on how reporting and the media works." Paul Cheung, "Be transparent about when you make a mistake. We are humans and it's normal to make a mistake. Own it. Issue an apology." It helps build trust. "Resist the urge to be defensive," Nisha Chittal, "don't just dismiss it (feedback), you could learn something. We aren't perfect, it's ok to make a mistake if you own it and learn from it."
Don't come into a situation flashing credentials like you are the police. Treat people and sources like people. Understand the situation you are walking into and what their fear and concerns might be.
Meredith Clark speaks to the importance of ethics around harvesting social posts and embedding them in an article. You have to take into consideration context and comments, what the conversation was. You have to acknowledge the fact that you will be raising this person's visibility tremendously -- and possibly exposing them to harrassment -- you should give them a heads up (even if you aren't required to). Paul Cheung agrees, especially for cultures with a history of having their identities repurposed or appropriated. You need to go to your standards editor and be clear on what the process is - regardless of platform.
An audience member asks about inclusion and the propensity of organizations to create a separate section to address that group vs increasing coverage of that community? Example, a section of the site/staff siloed to cover "women's issues" or "black politics." Nisha Chittal says it's important that even if you have a silo they must be given the same kind of promotion and exposure, they should be on the homepage and served to the broader audience as well.
Every year there is new number or metric to chase, says Paul Cheung. We have to go back and see if we are even looking at the right signals. No single metric should be the most important. Nisha Chittal says we can't get away from page views, but we should think about loyalty metrics and qualitative metrics as an indicator of trust - repeat visits, time spent on site, email replies to newsletters and stories, etc.
Meredith Clark speaks to the positive feedback in the report, notably around The Guardian. The Guardian makes a point of bringing in experts and tapping people who are knowledgeable in their field. They step back and give power to these experts to tell their own stories.
It's important to understand how audiences differ on each platform, says Nisha Chittal, you have to treat each platform differently including the content you share and how you engage with people. Twitter is more public than Facebook and can give you exposure (good and bad) to people beyond your regular audience.
When it comes to taking online to offline, it's important to hold the meet-up where that community already is, where they are comfortable. Ask them where they want to meet, says Meredith Clark. Paul Cheung says every newsroom should invite their community in to understand what they do, who these reporters are, what it takes to produce journalism. If your struggling with diversity, invite more people on to do opinion pieces. We are here to bring these stories to the surface.
Paul Cheung wants technology to give us access but we have to go back to our roots as journalists to listen and tell these stories. Go back to your own social networks and look at your past month of data, are voices missing there? You can uncover your own biases and blindspots. Meredith Clark says as revenues declined, media suddenly had to pay attention to covering broader audiences. They should leverage tech to help them do this. Nisha Chittal sees these platforms as a way for people to make themselves heard, like the forcing function of the #metoo movement using social media to demand accountability and get it.

That's a wrap!