From Truthout’s “Five Principles for Independent Media”:
1. Be Intentional.
It means being intentional about what voices we quote and promote; being aware that if we do not make conscious choices, invisible privileges will lead to the continued predominance of white, male, abled, heterosexual, cisgender and well-off voices. It means acknowledging power dynamics and seeking, wherever possible, to confront power and to avoid the cheap and easy satisfaction of criticizing those who do not have it – punching up, not punching down.
2. Be Humble
We must admit that we don’t know everything… Non-corporate media can and should provide a space to puzzle out possibilities for both dismantling current systems and paving new paths, and for this journey, humility is an essential ingredient.
3. Be Bold
…if our approach as writers and editors is tied too closely to chasing a bigger and bigger audience, and our desire to reach this audience is primarily tied to ensuring we stay funded, we are putting the cart before the horse in a way that risks falling into the same traps that hamstring the corporate media. If we commit to covering stories that would otherwise go untold, it should be with the understanding that this is a worthwhile act in and of itself. If we commit to giving a voice to the voiceless, it cannot be conditional on the immediate popularity of what the voiceless have to say.
4. Be Accountable
George Orwell famously defined journalism as “printing what someone else does not want printed,” adding “everything else is public relations” – this now seems to us somewhat incomplete without specifying that journalism is publishing what someone with power does not want to see the light of day… It means acknowledging that by virtue of the platforms we have, most of us enjoy “a tremendous privilege and an even greater responsibility,” and that, to quote Susie Cagle, “At the least, we should seek to minimize harm to those we use – and yes, we do use them – to tell stories and ultimately earn livelihoods for ourselves.”
5. Progress, Not Perfection
Journalists are uniquely positioned to provide an example of what it might mean instead to strive to be “progressive” in a different sense: committed to improving ourselves, our work and our society, but acutely aware of the inevitability of imperfection.