A commitment to racial justice — The Suffolk Journal

A+commitment+to+racial+justice+%E2%80%94+The+Suffolk+Journal

The Black community continues to be abused, oppressed and murdered because of the color of their skin; a reprehensible truth that the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many more Black and Indigenous people of color clearly show. 

These deaths are not isolated incidents. Nor are they just the result of a few bad police officers. Racism is a systemic issue that is deeply embedded in American society. Racism has transcended from slavery into what we now call the criminal justice system and has invaded other institutions. Police brutality that intentionally targets BIPOC continues to occur. And the officers behind these terrible acts are often not brought to justice. 

These horrific realities should not fade from the headlines of mainstream media. One of the most crucial responsibilities of journalism is to shed light on injustices and help propel the voices of those who are most affected by them. As a newspaper, we promise to use our platform as a way to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and racial justice. As students, we are dedicated to learning about these issues and answering the call for change however we can. 

The Journal has worked to report on issues of racism and stories about Suffolk’s BIPOC students and organizations. Like other media outlets, we used this summer as a time to examine our own organization, as well as to learn more about systemic racism and the horrors it has wrought. 

The important conversations we have been a part of have helped us learn how we can better support this crucial moment in history as an organization. We have seen that we must report more on the issues communities of color face, as well as reflect on our own past – specifically, an article we ran covering protests in Boston on May 31 and the unrest that followed. 

When we set out to report on this event, our goal was to show how this night affected Suffolk directly, how exactly the Suffolk University Police Department was involved, if at all, and to document this night. We followed the coverage we saw from other outlets. We took initial reports at face value and wrote about the protest as one that turned violent, when in reality, the real protest had ended by the time violence broke out. We have since updated the article to reflect what really happened that night including the fact that the violence was separate from the powerful and incredibly necessary protest that was held earlier in the day.

As student journalists, we are constantly learning how to report on events and issues fairly and accurately, but most importantly, with truth. We learned that we need to better evaluate the information we receive from officials and our own implicit biases, and we apologize for any inaccuracies in our initial reporting. 

It is important to share ideas and learn from multiple perspectives. However, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, sexism and other forms of bigotry should not be represented in this paper. 

We recognize that we have published opinion pieces in the past that promote some of these ideas. While opinion pieces do not represent the view of the paper or the entire staff, and while many of us disagreed with these pieces and did not have the final say in the publication of them, we regret that they appeared in The Journal. 

The Journal’s next steps

The only exception for when these ideas can be presented in our paper is if they are a part of coverage from a news event where this is essential to the story. We have updated our editorial policy to address this standard more specifically and will not accept any piece that promotes these ideas. We will also publish updated standards for opinion pieces in the coming weeks, as well as ways students can submit their own pieces for publication. 

We welcome students from all communities and backgrounds to contribute to or become a staff member of The Journal. We also respect and celebrate the different cultures and perspectives that are a part of Suffolk’s community. 

Our editorial board and staff are almost entirely white. While this is in no way intentional, it is important for us to represent our Suffolk community accurately and fairly on all fronts. Having a more diverse staff that is representative of the community we serve continues to be a crucial, long-term goal. We will continue to speak with others and learn about steps we can take to help achieve this goal in a way that truly fosters diversity and inclusion in our newsroom.

We are also creating standards to hold ourselves accountable for any mistakes we make in the future, including having a monthly check-in where we review our content for any racially-coded or insensitive language or reporting. We will publish these standards when they are finalized. 

It should not be the burden of the Black community to be the sole educators on issues of race and Black history. At The Journal, we are committed to continuously educating ourselves and others about the systemic racism that has both undermined and shaped the core values of our nation and its many institutions. 

This will include: 

  • Watching a short video about one of these topics at our pitch meeting. 
  • Sharing different anti-racism and Black history resources in our weekly pitch-emails sent to writers and editors.
  • Attending at least one diversity and inclusion training this semester as a staff.
  • Continuing to educate ourselves as an organization on how to report on stories that involve people from historically marginalized communities accurately and respectfully. 

We have started a racial justice resource page on our website that will be updated throughout the year with articles pertaining to this movement, along with resources for fighting racism, promoting allyship and supporting the Black community. We pledge to responsibly and accurately cover more stories about the culture, history and perspectives of BIPOC and the horrific injustices they continue to face. 

Just as we expect transparency from university officials, organizations and political figures, the Suffolk community deserves to see transparency from us. We have done an internal review of the topics of the articles we have published in each of our sections over the last two years to help us – and you – see where we are lacking in our coverage and where we have succeeded. We have also done an internal review of diversity within our own staff. Both reports, along with The Journal’s updated standards and procedures, are linked below this statement. 

The Journal is dedicated to serving Suffolk’s communities accurately, fairly, and with respect. We are continuing to develop a long-term action plan to make our organization and coverage more inclusive, and we support the Black Lives Matter movement and our BIPOC peers. 

If you have any comments or concerns, please email us at [email protected]

— The Suffolk Journal Staff

To read our staff diversity report, click here.

To read our updated Standards & Procedures, click here.

To read our report on topics covered in The Journal over the last two academic years, click here.