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Maynard Institute co-executive director Reynolds on journalism’s future

September 17, 2020

Posted by Mariam Ahmed

Martin Reynolds

Over the course of 13 years, Martin Reynolds worked his way up from intern to editor-in-chief of The Oakland Tribune. His journey taught him the benefits of community engagement, leading him to found community storytelling program Oakland Voices in 2010.

In 2015, Reynolds joined the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education to assist with strategic planning before being asked to serve as a co-executive overseeing external affairs and fundraising.

Q: The profession of journalism feels more attacked today than in a long time, but also highly necessary. Do you feel that’s true, and if so, why?

MR: Journalists are clearly trusted less today than in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mainstream journalism did that to itself to a great degree. Profit-driven journalism driven by greed and lacking innovation has eroded the industry. The white gaze of content and lack of willingness to embrace a changing nation has led to an increasing lack of trust. And for some communities, there never was trust.

Q: What are you hearing from your students or members about their ambitions and hopes for the profession?

MR: The young people want to burn it all down and I can’t blame them. The question is, what is to be rebuilt?

Q: What are some of the best practices from journalism’s past that you feel need to be utilized now?

MR: Build deep relationships with your audience and forge a trusted connection with new audiences who likely don’t trust you. Embrace community organizing practices as a means to build trust.

Q: What learnings have made a tremendous difference in your career?

MR: The Maynard Institute’s Management training, along with the mentoring I received. This assists in understanding that systemic racism in journalism must be dismantled, and how community organizing techniques can be applied to building relationships with audiences.

Q: What do you see as some of journalism’s biggest potential pitfalls? And what gives you hope for the future of journalism?

MR: Greed and profit-driven journalism and ambient racism in news organizations. However, my biggest hope lies with those calling for societal change across the industry.

Q: Where do you get YOUR news from? Which publications do you like to read?

MR: Washington Post, NY Times, The Atlantic, Democracy Now, Brookings Institute, journalism trade publications, The Oaklandside, Oakland Voices, NPR, The AP, KQED, PBS.

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