When individuals can drive conversation, how does the media react? Who should be represented and who should tell the story? Blake Hounshell, Managing Editor, Washington and Politics at POLITICO, opened the panel with an innovation of the “Tax the Rich” dress worn by Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez at the Met Gala.
For Radhika Jones, Editor-in-Chief of Vanity Fair, interlocutors are less important in today’s media but that media still plays a role in bringing messages where they might be uncomfortable. Hounshell brought up the issue of competing points of view. Marty Baron, Former Executive Editor of The Washington Post, expressed the importance of reporters with many types of backgrounds and life experiences to provide greater perspective on news. One major problem, he continued, is the erosion in the primacy of facts in an era of rampant misinformation. Though it can be challenging to call out, a lie speaks to the intent of the speaker.
Hounshell asked Jones about Vanity Fair’s approach to cover images. Jones highlighted the September 2020 portrait of Breonna Taylor as a way to start a conversation on what matters to us as a country. It’s important to take risks, she said, to put together stories that haven’t been told.
Will the future of journalism, Hounshell mused, include a permanent shift in whose stories get told? As a non-white person, Jones said she understands what it is to have different experiences and emphasized her support of diversity in representation. Baron agreed with the need for diverse voices but cautioned that newsrooms have limited resources to tell all the stories they wish they could tell.
We’re in a moment of icons being smashed.
People from one life experience may not see a story that someone from a different life experience would see and they would see them from very different perspectives.
The more diversity comes into newsrooms, comes into the magazine world, the more attentive audiences are to those kinds of decisions and choices, the more representative it becomes.