We're reporting on equity

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

On Sept. 4, Wednesday Journal, Inc. (now the nonprofit Growing Community Media), convened a conversation at Live Café, 163 S. Oak Park Ave., with about two dozen stakeholders in the roughly seven communities that our four local weeklies serve. 

Reesheda Graham Washington — speaker, author, nonprofit leader and Live's owner — facilitated the conversation of the day, which was about Growing Community Media's plans to hire an equity reporter. If all goes according to those plans, I'll fill that role and will be responsible for reporting on all things equity-related in Oak Park, River Forest, Forest Park, Riverside/Brookfield, Austin, North Lawndale and West Garfield Park. 

That's a tall order, we know. And equity is an ever vague concept, we know. Thanks to Washington's extremely deft facilitation, though, we at the newspaper got some clarity on both what equity is and what equity reporting might look like. 

First, equity isn't equality. It's about accounting for structural and historical unfairness and injustice in how we treat people who have endured various structural and historical deficits (through no fault of their own).  

Secondly, equity reporting and equity in our reporting are two different things. Equity reporting is covering stories related to how people who have suffered structural and historical disadvantages are treated (or mistreated) in the present. Equity in reporting is how we cover those stories — the way they're framed, how deeply they probe, who ends up in our coverage. It's even about what our newsroom looks like demographically and how equitably we operate as an organization. 

Lots to think about and grapple with. Things will get messy, we know. But we look forward to any insights you, as readers and community stakeholders, might contribute to the conversation. We want your ideas and your genuine concerns and thoughts. No sermons or soapboxes or side-eye necessary (we learned that from Washington, too). 

Michael Romain 

Email: michael@oakpark.com

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