Movement journalism creates a process that centers the people who are most targeted and oppressed—centers their collective solutions and strategies for survival and social change.
From an Attention Economy to an Intention Economy
I have been learning about the divisions we have made in our brains that have been built into our perception of the world. We have wired our brains in such a way that we have changed our environment to reflect our differences in perception.
The physical infrastructure of our world is built according to the biases of the dominant power structures of our societies. Architecture grows out of intention. Then, that architecture is imposed on a society through attention. The system becomes a feedback loop, a self-reinforcing process of biological reproduction through the mechanical processes that form human perception, cognition, emotion, and action.
We are the target audience for a process of technological manipulation that has been actively changing human beings for at least the past century.
The process started with people who had accumulated vast sums of capital but were discouraged by their poor reputations in the perceptions of the public. They sought to change the public’s perceptions by changing their relationship to the public. Rather than being perceived as the wealthy robber barons who were monopolizing their power by increasing the inequities of society, these industrialists shifted attention to their philanthropic activities, gifting libraries and entertainment venues. The filthy rich became the wealthy benefactors of society.
Thus was born the industries of public relations, marketing, advertising, and design.
Today, I learned a new term: movement journalism.
The View from Somewhere: A Podcast About Journalism With A Purpose features stories of marginalized and oppressed people who have shaped journalism in the U.S. The podcast focuses on the troubled history of “objectivity” and how it has been used to gatekeep and exclude people of color, queer and trans people, and people organizing for their labor rights and communities.
The latest episode focuses on movement journalism. The host of the podcast, Lewis Raven Wallace, ended the episode with the following definition.
So to me, movement journalists are curious and open but also have a conscious politic about the why and how of what we do. Movement journalism is an ethical approach to truth-telling—movement journalists bring a power analysis to our reporting, and focus on the process as much as the product. It creates a process that centers the people who are most targeted and oppressed—centers their collective solutions and strategies for survival and social change. And movement journalists report with and for communities, not just plucking out their stories and leaving. As our editor Carla Murphy said, it’s journalism that supports the overall health of the community... It’s kinda like journalism as mutual aid. Because our fates really are all tied up with each other.
Tina Vasquez describes her work in movement journalism as a means of supporting the resilience of people and communities.
I don’t really see myself as just kind of reporting positively on movements. I’m reporting on what is happening to people. And I’m reporting on how social justice movements support those people or are responding to the attacks that they’re experiencing. I don’t I just don’t see myself as a mouthpiece for movements. I’m just you know, I’m a journalist that’s reporting on social justice movements. And I think that’s valid work, especially in this political moment. Like I would like to see more of that reporting that centered impacted people, that focused on the ways that people are responding, the work that’s about resilience and not just, you know, trauma porn all the time or painting people as like, victims.
As we think about the shift from an attention economy to an intention economy, we avoid the trap of paving the road to Hell with good intentions by engaging in real action that goes beyond performances of politically expedient attitudes and opinions. We act in a way that people recognize what we are doing as authentic, genuine, and effective in the real work of building a world that works for 100% of life.
When we shift our social identity from passive audiences to people who are actively engaged in the process of exploring how we imagine, design, and build the future together, we become world builders.