This month we observed the 80th anniversary of the forced removal of our Japanese American neighbors to internment camps. Across the nation there was little outcry in 1942 against this injustice, but on Bainbridge Island there was a courageous voice that dared to forcefully attack Executive Order 9066.
It was the editorial voice of The Bainbridge Review. The paper’s owners and editors, Walt and Milly Woodward, decried this atrocity. They were a lone voice. Major national newspaper chains like Hearst and McClatchy actively used their pages for fear mongering and to stir up hatred against Japanese Americans. The Seattle Times in a special report March 27 apologized for its failure to oppose the World War II internment and highlighted the courage of The Bainbridge Review at that time.
The Woodwards’ daughter Mary joined in a March 23 zoomed panel discussion on Courage in Journalism then and now. She said her parents never thought of themselves as courageous. They were modest and believed in doing the right thing, as eloquently described in her book “In Defense of Our Neighbors.”
I moderated the panel, organized by the Bainbridge Historical Society, the Bainbridge branch of the Kitsap Regional Library and Arts & Humanities Bainbridge, and was struck by how time and again our local paper stood up to racism and injustice. Panelist Becky Fox Marshall described how in 1991 when she edited The Review the paper exposed white supremacists who had targeted Bainbridge Island. The Review’s current editor Steve Powell talked about the ongoing challenges of covering an engaged community where recently there has been heated debate over how to teach racism.
We are lucky to still have a local paper. In 2020 alone, more than 300 U.S. newspapers closed, and researchers are still adding up those that later shut down during the pandemic. Many communities are now considered “news deserts” where there is no viable coverage of their towns.
At a time when the news media is often under attack and has lost much of the public trust, it’s important also to look at the value of good journalism and the courage reporters demonstrate every day to inform us about what is going on in our world – from the battlefields of the Ukraine to Winslow.
Here is the recording of the March 23 panel on Courage in Journalism. There are links below to resources on this topic. I also want to share with you with some of the excellent questions posted to the panel’s zoom chat by listeners. These are questions with no easy answers, and we hope you’ll share your thoughts by posting comments.
Q: Are there times when you as journalists worry about giving voice to folks who are trying to terrorize others?
Q: Investigative journalism takes a lot of time and dedicated staff over weeks or even months. With the severe cutbacks in newsroom staff, how do local newspapers have the time to do investigative work?
Q: With all the technology at our disposal, how can we develop ways to certify truth and to breach strongholds of propaganda both locally and in foreign places?
WATCH VIDEO HERE:
InvestigateWest is a nonprofit based in Seattle that seeks to engage Pacific Northwest residents in social issues by providing compelling, change making investigative and explanatory journalism.
For more on investigative journalism, check out Investigative Reporters & Editors.
The Trust Project works to rebuild trust in journalism.
The International Women’s Media Foundation annually awards women journalists demonstrating outstanding courage in journalism. Read about these amazing women.
The News Literacy Project uses the news to teach critical thinking to students.
The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting supports quality journalism across all platforms.
The Knight Foundation lists organizations building the future of local news to make our democracy stronger.
Journalism and Women Symposium supports the advancement of women in journalism and advocates for more inclusive coverage of the diverse experiences and cultures that comprise our society. (I’m a past president, so I had to give it a shoutout).
LINDA KRAMER JENNING is a veteran journalist who taught at Georgetown University and worked for national magazines before moving to Bainbridge Island in 2017. She currently is a regular contributor to PostAlley.org and is on the board of AHB.