I have a journalist friend who covers climate change, and once, I asked her how she kept from being overwhelmed by the doom of it all.
“Because the future is not foretold,” she texted me. “There is too much to be done. A certain degree of warming is locked in. We have to quickly adapt. But every degree of warming beyond that matters, and we can shape that, especially as citizens of the richest, most polluting country.”
Despair, she told me, was a luxury people in countries like India cannot afford.
I share this because I want you to know that hope is an integral part of journalism.
I can understand why you might have laughed at that sentence. Journalism delivers a lot of bad news. Indeed, it’s often not a story unless it’s telling you what’s going wrong or what awful thing has happened or what terrible thing someone did. And we are a skeptical bunch, forever pulling at the loose thread that unravels a story.
But we, especially at MLK50, operate from a place of hope. We see flawed and unjust systems, and we see harm to workers, and we write about them to inform, yes, but also to provoke change because we believe that there can be change. Ours is a fact-based hope; it’s sturdy and practical. It can withstand political winds, verbal attacks and recalcitrant officials.
In that way, every piece we write has a measure of hope embedded within it. We’re asking our leaders to do better, to be better, because we know they can and we hope they will.
Still, sometimes we know we have to be transparent with our hopefulness. That’s why I loved the idea our housing and development reporter Jacob Steimer came up with—to ask Memphians about their “little resurrections,” the places they see hope. As an editor, it was wonderful to work on something that left me with a sense of peace.
I hope when you read it, you’ll feel the same.
As a reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., of course, had much to say about hope and its companion, faith. Among the most famous of his quotes is “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
Memphis and Shelby County can’t afford despair either. So we’ll keep writing our stories. Let us all keep moving forward with hope, urgently, faithfully, lovingly.
Adrienne Johnson Martin is executive editor of MLK50: Justice Through Journalism. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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