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Journalism for Accountability

todayNovember 16, 2017

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By Allison Johnson
Blog Content Contributor

Kirsten Danis, the managing editor of The Marshall Project, spoke several times over the course of Mass Comm Week last month. I loved that her job and speech related to the Common Experience theme this year.

The Marshall Project focuses on exposing the criminal justice system for their wrong-doings. Our prison transportation system needs some rehabilitation. Prisoners are being abused. Whether it’s dying from a lack of air conditioning, getting beat to death, or raped, we need to see a change.

The Marshall Project is an example of non-profit journalism. Danis said that their job isn’t necessarily used as advocacy, but to just get a conversation going. Journalists have a platform and they are holding themselves accountable by writing about the injustice in our criminal justice system.

Danis used to be a tabloid reporter, but, as she said, “Where you start isn’t necessarily where you’re going to end up.” She said it wasn’t fulfilling. She wrote for many publications including The Wall Street Journal, where she first approached accountability journalism. She and her colleagues wrote nearly 50 stories about a medical tool that was killing women. Danis won a Pulitzer Prize and the tool was taken off the market. This was the beginning of Danis feeling like her work meant something.

Danis’s panel was inspiring. I hope she feels accomplished not only because she is a Pulitzer Prize winner, but because I think once someone’s profession inspires someone to want to change the angle of their work, they shouldn’t doubt if they’re successful or not. As a writer, I love writing about entertainment, and other things I go through in life, but if you’re blessed with a platform that can reach out to a lot of people, why not talk about the important things?

If you read my blog about Anthony Grave’s Common Experience event, you would know that if you do not make at least $150,000 a year, you are not protected from being convicted of a crime, even one you did not commit. This could be you, a close family member, or a friend sent to jail or prison one day. I pray it doesn’t happen but if it does, you’ll think about the corrupt transportation services provided to prisoners and think, “are they safe?”

As Martin Luther King Jr. put it, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Feature image courtesy of Alexandria Allee.

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