Four freelance journalists from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting shared their perspectives on the future of journalism as an important and endangered tool of activism in a speech Monday night.
Nathalie Applewhite, managing director for the center, opened the discussion by saying that particularly in a struggling media environment, journalists should use their reporting as a way to influence discussion of typically under-reported stories.
"I grew up with the idea of the media having a responsibility to the public," Applewhite said. "Many more outlets are now moving more towards entertainment, which due to financial restraints is practical. However, I believe the news is what you need to know, not necessarily what you want to know."
Bill Wheeler, a freelancer who has reported in the Middle East and more recently in Haiti following the January earthquake, agreed that the mainstream media fails at discussing a problem before it escalates to a crisis. In terms of Haiti, he said he has struggled to find "reporting that speaks to the complexity of issues" like long-term infrastructure problems.
The problem of under-reporting important issues was a sentiment shared among the members of the panel, all of whom said it was a reason they got involved in nonprofit journalism. Emmy-nominated reporter Lisa Biagotti said she uses her stories to explore an area of culture and society to root out the source of under-reporting.
"The idea is to look at a problem through a broader lens than you would see with a headline," she said.
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