Journalism as historical repair work: addressing present injustice through the second draft of history

As part of contemporary racial reckoning, institutions are acknowledging their historical legacies of racism and discrimination. Media institutions, given their role in the social construction of reality, have been called to account by racial justice activists for perpetuating the white-dominant status quo. We develop a framework for recognizing and interpreting efforts at historical repair work in journalism, second draft of history journalism (SDOH), whereby contemporary consciousness about racial injustice, structural inequality, and exclusionary practices inside and outside journalism prompt news organizations to revisit the historical record. Through case study exemplars at U.S. newspapers, we define the three main modes—active, reflective, and active/reflective, and four key characteristics of SDOH journalism—discursive consciousness, institutional consciousness, moral consciousness, and past orientation. We address the contested boundaries of journalism’s cultural authority as journalists negotiate between SDOH journalism’s moral advocacy in pursuit of social justice and journalists’ professional journalistic norms of objectivity and neutrality.

Usher, N. y Carlson, M. Journal of Communication 72. Full article here.