Zolan Kanno-Youngs, our Homeland Security correspondent, has been covering the protests against police brutality and racism in Washington. He spoke to Times Insider about what the past weeks have been like. Here’s an excerpt.
What strategies do you use while reporting at these protests?
You have to be willing to get a bit uncomfortable in pursuit of actually documenting the reality, the truth, of a situation.
You’re going to have many people there who are suffering trauma, who are perhaps distrustful of the news media, and I think one thing I needed to accept was getting over that wall of going to someone who didn’t want to speak to me and convincing them to.
How has your identity posed challenges as you cover a story that is so intensely driven by issues of racial inequities?
Being a black journalist, I’m going to come to the situation with a perspective and a background that other reporters may not have. I think that approaching these situations with that perspective can actually get at one of the more crucial necessities when it comes to this reporting, which is empathy — to have the ability to understand, not just transcribe, where a person who is experiencing the trauma of the situation could be coming from.
Why is it so important to cover a story like this so deeply and comprehensively?
I have to acknowledge that there have been documented reports of abuses of authority and violent incidents. I think it’s ever more important to be present to this situation in order to document any of those incidents against anybody.
But speaking generally, there’s that cliché that reporting is documenting the first draft of history. Protests are the early seeds of a movement that could shape the future of this country, that could determine policy change, that could determine who will be in power. But at the very root of it, it also shows the mind-set and the feelings of the people in this country right now. This really is the root of our reporting. This is a prime example of why we do what we do.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode features five U.S. protesters speaking about the moments in their lives that brought them onto the streets.
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• Tara Parker-Pope, our Well editor, hosts a Times Event on smart ways to live your life while staying safe during the pandemic on Monday at 1 p.m. Eastern time (3 a.m. on Tuesday in Sydney, Australia).