journalists sitting inside an office around a long table, hunched over computers

Journalists work in the independent, Russia-focused, media start-up Meduza office in Riga, Latvia. This year, Nieman Reports has published stories about media's most pressing issues, such as journalists forced to work in exile.

Over the past year, Nieman Reports has engaged with influential figures in journalism, highlighting transformative efforts and addressing critical challenges in the field. The discussions have ranged from innovative newsroom initiatives to in-depth strategies tackling issues like media representation, press freedom, and the evolution of local journalism. Here are five of Nieman Reports’ most thought-provoking conversations from the past year:

READ MORE: Nieman Reports’ Top 5 Opinion Pieces of 2023

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‘It Was Hard to Put Words to Something So Raw and So Recent’
After a gunman fatally shot a professor on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus in August, the editors of The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s student newspaper, were unsure of what their front cover should be. Led by Editor-in-Chief Emmy Martin, the paper used real-time student text messages to convey the event’s immediate horror. This approach not only humanized the incident but also highlighted the ethical dilemmas and emotional toll on student journalists tasked with reporting such traumatic events. “I would say it was a very weird experience to be reporting the news and later, kind of be a part of the news,” said Martin. “It showed me how important the work of student journalists is.”

The Trans Journalists Association Tackles the Shortfalls of Media Coverage of Trans People
Kae Petrin, a co-founder of the Trans Journalists Association, discusses the organization’s commitment to improving media coverage of transgender issues. “To some degree, if you don’t cover trans issues, you’re failing to meet the basic purpose and ethics of our profession,” Petrin said. By providing resources and a style guide, the organization aims to educate media professionals on respectful and accurate reporting, emphasizing the need for a shift in the journalistic portrayal of trans communities.

Meet the Plymouth Independent, One of the Many Local News Startups Cropping Up Across the Country
Mark Pothier, editor and CEO of the Plymouth Independent, sheds light on the organization’s mission to rejuvenate local journalism in Massachusetts. Addressing the decline of traditional media and rise of misinformation, the outlet focuses on community-driven and investigative journalism, underscoring the critical need for reliable local news. “Our job is to try to target where we think the biggest issues are … and really, really dive into some of those issues and shed some light on them for the public,” Pothier said. 

‘We Are Trying to Help Out These Russian Journalists … Do You Think That Americans Would Want to Get Involved?’
The article discusses the collaboration between Mother Jones and Meduza in highlighting the plight of Russian journalists. “I think authoritarians think it’s going to be a lot easier to get rid of journalism than it actually is,” Mother Jones’ CEO Monika Bauerlein told Nieman Reports. The interview with Bauerlein explores how American journalists and the public can aid their Russian counterparts, who operate under increasingly oppressive media restrictions.

Why Public Radio Could Be a Key Part of Saving Local News
The role of public radio in preserving local news is becoming more significant, especially as traditional local news sources decline. Public radio stations are now pivotal in delivering diverse, comprehensive, and community-centric news coverage, adapting to the changing media landscape. Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, talked with Nieman Reports about his vision for a healthy local news future — one that makes the absence of the newspaper on our doorsteps a little less stark. 

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