As you might be aware, we were planning to host a panel this coming Tuesday, September 22, called “Eyes on the Ground: A Conversation With Portland’s Protest Journalists.” The panel was intended to give our audience a glimpse into what it’s like for the independent journalists who have been covering the historic Portland protests against police brutality and racial injustice that started after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd in May.
But we’re postponing the panel—until next month, most likely. We’ve chosen to delay it because, as many Portlanders helpfully pointed out, there weren’t any Black journalists in the original panel lineup.
That we would think we could have a conversation about the Black Lives Matter movement without including the perspective of any local Black journalists was arrogant, presumptuous, and harmful of us. Black journalists have been consistently undervalued and overlooked by white audiences for centuries, and we hate that we helped perpetuate that problem. On top of that, it was also bad journalism, as any worthwhile reporter knows that a diversity of sources always makes for a stronger and more accurate story. That is particularly relevant in this case, considering the protests have always been about Black lives.
We realize seeing the original panel lineup without the inclusion of any Black people was hurtful and frustrating for a lot of you, and we’re sorry we let you down. We could try to explain the reasons behind how we landed on that original lineup, but at the end of the day, those reasons don’t really matter. We weren’t as thoughtful or intentional as we should have been, and we sincerely regret that.
Rather than trying to hastily change the panel in the span of a few days, we’ve decided to postpone it so that we can re-envision it from scratch, and make this forum a more inclusive and truthful representation of what it’s like for Portland journalists covering the protests. Stay tuned for more info on our upcoming forum in the next few weeks.
If you’ve already bought a ticket or RSVPed to Tuesday’s panel, don’t worry—we’ll sign you up for the rescheduled event. However if you would prefer a full refund, we’ll happily provide it, just let us know. You should be getting an email about those options shortly.
Thanks to everyone who held us accountable. If you’re a Black journalist who has covered the Portland protests (whether on the ground or in other ways), or you have suggestions for people you’d like to see on the new panel, please let us know.