Pope Francis thanks journalists for uncovering the Church sexual abuse scandals

Image via Reuters

At a ceremony to honor two veteran correspondents, Pope Francis thanked journalists for helping uncover the sexual abuse scandals of the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis said it was vital for reporters to get out of their newsrooms and discover what was happening in the outside world to counter misinformation often found online.

“(I) thank you for what you tell us about what is wrong in the Church, for helping us not to sweep it under the carpet, and for the voice you have given to the abuse victims.”

Pope Francis

The sexual abuse scandals of the Roman Catholic Church first hit headlines in 2002, when U.S. daily The Boston Globe wrote a series of articles exposing a pattern of abuse of minors by clerics and a widespread culture of concealment within the Church.

Since then, investigations revealed more and more examples of sexual abuse in the Church in different countries, most recently France where a major investigation found that clerics had abused more than 200000 children over the past 70 years.

Although the church has faced heavy criticism and record numbers of church departures, for example in Germany, critics still accused the Church of responding too slowly to the scandals. Therefore, Pope Francis’s public statement is an important signal for Christians.



Pandemic-led changes to newsrooms look to be permanent and global

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The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism released The Changing Newsroom 2021 report. The report is based on a survey of 132 senior industry leaders from 42 countries, as well as a series of in-depth interviews.

These are the key findings:

  • ‘Hybrid working’ will soon be the norm for the vast majority of journalists. Respondents say their companies are now mostly (79%) on board with the shift to hybrid working and even more (89%) say they themselves are committed
  • Most respondents say their news organization is doing a good job with gender diversity (78%), but fewer say the same about ethnic diversity (38%) and attracting those from less advantaged backgrounds (37%) or with diverse political views (33%). In the light of the Black Lives Matter movement and greater awareness of historic injustices, ethnic diversity remains the biggest priority for media companies – identified by 35% as the single most important priority in terms of improving newsroom diversity, followed by gender diversity (26%) and greater diversity from less advantaged groups (17%).
  • While participants believe that efficiency (70%) and Employee well being (61%) gains from hybrid working, they also think collaboration (45%), creativity (48%), and communication (42%) suffer from it.
  • Participants said they still struggle to attract and retain technology and data skills which are in great demand elsewhere. However, most respondents remain broadly confident (63%) about keeping newsroom staff. Around half of the respondents (47%) felt that the pandemic has made recruitment and retention of media staff harder, with less than a fifth (17%) saying that it was easier.

The pandemic has affected some rapid changes in working spaces in the last two years. It is interesting to see how people experience these adjustments and how they would like to continue working.

More than a third of female journalists feel unsafe doing their jobs

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A UK government survey about abuse and harassment reveals that one in three female journalists feel unsafe doing their jobs ins the UK. 80% of the 360 female and male participants said they had experienced threats, abuse, or violence in their jobs as journalists.

However, one in five journalists said they had chosen not to report threats or abuse because they saw it as part of their jobs, and 10% of the survey’s participants said they worried, a reveal could affect their career prospects.

The survey was published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, which also put out an action plan on journalists’ safety this year.

The survey confirms that it needs more protection for journalists, to support individuals, but also to enable freedom of speech and freedom of the press. According to the survey, journalists nowadays have low confidence in the current arrangements of police and platforms to deal with incidents. Therefore, the responses confirmed the significant impact this has on their journalistic output.

Media Minister Julia Lopez stated: “The free press is a staunch protector of the public interest and an irreplaceable outlet for ideas and opinions which help to improve society. High-quality journalism should be accessible to as many people as possible, and journalists must feel safe to carry out their vital work in every corner of the country. […] It’s clear there is more to do so we will act on these findings and work with people from a range of disciplines and industries to address the issues raised.”

‘Why Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson Is Accused of Being a Culture Vulture’

In December 2020, Jesy left the group in pursuit of her solo career. Since then she’s been pushing her career as a solo artist. Unfortunately, people are paying much more attention to recent allegations rather than her music. The discussion of her “culture vulture” behavior has been a continuous one as ‘Little Mix’s style evolved. Jesy’s white British identity gives insight to why people were upset at her use of “artistic expression”.

On occasion Jesy is seen wearing grills on her teeth, oversized clothing, colorful wigs, etc. Not to mention, there is a clear difference in skin tone compared to when Nelson first joined ‘Little Mix’ to now.

Recently, rapper Nicki Minaj collaborated on a song with Jesy called ‘Boyz’.  In this music video Jesy is seen wearing oversized jewelry, hair accessories, hair scarves, oversized clothes and timberland boots. Which is typically associated with Black culture. Black artists and black people created this style of fashion and are almost never credited for it.

‘Boyz’ ft. Nicki Minaj is an adaptation of P. Diddy’s ‘Bad Boy For Life’ single in 2001.

But what doesn’t sit right with a few Little Mix members and fans is the slow changing of skin color, to seem more “exotic” looking. These aspects about the music industry are problematic because artist of color who identify and showcase their identity aren’t embraced the same way. They are dismissed as “over the top”, “ghetto”, or ignored as a whole. While artist like Jesy are embraced and celebrated for it.

Hoop earrings, exotic looking nails, Timberland boots, and colorful wigs go deeper than video shoots. There’s a historical pattern of Black people and people of color being robbed of their culture, while other races are able to capitalize from it. Nicki Minaj openly defended Jesy against ‘Little Mix’ member Leigh-Anne Pinnock for accusing Jesy of “Blackfishing”. Which surprised many fans as this is a tactic white artists use to appeal to the “urban” audience. Leigh-Anne Pinnock, who identifies as African-Caribbean, expressed her frustration over her experience with Jesy in the group. She witnessed different variations of her culture appropriating behavior and in opposition of this, she spoke out publicly.

USA Today newsroom improving its diversity hiring

Image Via USA Today

USA TODAY, reported on September 1, that their newsroom is now majority female, and has sees gains in Black, Hispanic and Asian American journalists. In a recent staff survey about diversity and inclusion in the newsroom. The newspaper reports that “women were 51.7% of all journalists. We also made strides in the percentage of Black (13.6%), Hispanic (10.1%) and Asian American (7%) journalists. Overall, the newsroom was 34% journalists of color.”

According to USA TODAY, the survey did not currently include data on sexual orientation or gender identity. The paper said their “goal is to reflect the diversity of the U.S. by 2025; to be able to fully and accurately report the stories of our country,” they write, “we must reflect it.”

Much has been written, increasingly over the last couple of years, about the importance of diversity in the newsroom. It is one of the most important challenges and opportunities in media and journalism. In 2020, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism surveyed newsroom leaders from 38 countries to gather insight into how the issues facing society are impacting the news coverage that is being served to the public.

The Reuters executive summary sets up the context for the research:

The year 2020 has meant deep disruption for journalism as the global COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected people’s health, habits, and livelihoods. Journalists play a central role in reporting on these changes even while simultaneously being personally affected by them. Lockdowns and safety restrictions have changed the way news is produced, with long hours and extensive remote working making communication and day-to-day production more complex. COVID-19 has also increased economic uncertainty after a steep decline in advertising revenues, leading to widespread layoffs and increased pressure on an already challenged industry.

At the same time, high-profile events have brought to the surface a series of social and generational changes and fundamental disagreements that are testing newsrooms in other ways. The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and the Black Lives Matter protests have helped focus attention on racial injustice and social inequality and led to questions around the media’s coverage of these issues. Prompted also by the #MeToo movement, documented instances of sexual abuse and harassment in the media, and continued disclosure of gender pay gaps, newsrooms across the world have been wrestling with how to confront enduring forms of social inequality internally and how to better represent audiences through greater diversity in their news coverage.

Reuters Institute

Journalism and media outlets need more successful initiatives to invest in media makers of color. It’s essential that those who are reporting the stories and the history of our times are reflective of all the communities who are living those experiences.