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United in Support of the Movement for Black Lives

A Letter to the AIR Community
June 3, 2020

We are in a state of mourning and anger at AIR. As a staff, we stand united in support of the movement for Black lives. 

The recent murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breanna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have sparked outrage but the unwarranted loss of black life is not new. It is only being reported with greater frequency. In recent days, we’ve watched police across the country beat protesters and shoot at journalists. It is a global, real-time demonstration of how systemic racism yields a culture of indifference, violence and blame towards those who suffer most.

For those afforded the privileges of being white, we call on you to question how you can push for change, what you can do. It is not the responsibility of your black and brown colleagues and friends to make this work easier for you. If you still aren’t sure where to start, Third Coast shared a thorough list in their newsletter this week and Black Lives Matter maintains an extensive resource guide

To our Black colleagues, and to the BIPOC, under-represented and marginalized journalists and storytellers and engineers in our community, we see you and we hear you. We know we need to do more to ensure that your voices are heard and amplified and that you, too, can build thriving careers in this industry.  

Let's not return to the way it was before Covid-19 and the current protests. Let's not seek to reinvent the craft of narrative storytelling or journalism but question the mechanics and models for sustainability that repeatedly fail to allow for new voices. Let's require representation as a measure of service and proximity to community. Let's provide the collective courage that reinvention requires.  

We’ve spent too long looking to institutions and asking them to make room for more diverse voices in the newsrooms and newsroom leadership and to build an equitable and diverse industry.  At AIR, we are aligning ourselves with the enormous talent in our industry. You give us hope in the power of your reporting, storytelling and understanding of how stories can fuel learning and movements for change. We are committed to lifting up the work of those who pursue the stories we need to hear, who see perspectives that are lacking, who name those needing to be called out, and who inspire through the unexpected. We are also committed to continuing to work to ensure that there are real career paths for currently underrepresented producers on every beat and desk.  

The stories we have yet to hear and never expected often lead to pause, reflection and renewal as a community. The future is uncertain yet we know the work of this membership needs more opportunity, not less. You have our promise to continue to advance the community and ask that you share your thoughts and help guide our efforts in partnership.

We have been quiet for the last few days as we considered what we wanted and needed to say. 

We know that this country needs to hear more Black voices. We know that there are not enough Black journalists on the air. We know that the New Voices Fellowship isn’t enough: a single fellowship program won’t single-handedly change that fact but the program represents our commitment to helping pave the way to powerful careers for traditionally underrepresented voices. We don’t have all of the answers and acknowledge our own uncertainty in these times. We are here for our community. whose work reaches across all divides and and to our black members in particular, our commitment to change is steadfast. 

In solidarity, 

AIR Staff