The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year led to demonstrations in all 50 states. Newsrooms have been tasked with covering these events and explaining why these demonstrations are taking place.
Do your research. If time allows, it never hurts to learn more about the marginalized community you are covering. Look up demographics, experts, and any other applicable knowledge that would help the story.
Try to talk to as many sources as possible. Even if the sources don’t end up in the story, it’s a great way to gain more knowledge on the topic that can be used for articles at a later point in time. They might know about a topic or buzzword that might not be immediately obvious during the reporting process.
Tread lightly. No one likes it when someone new comes around and claims to know all they need to know or be unwilling to learn new things. Recognize where your knowledge is lacking, and be sure to direct those questions to the right people. Sometimes being silent and listening to others is the best way to learn.
Get another set of eyes on the article. This is more of a newsroom precaution to take, but it’s just as important. In situations like these, it’s best to get a second opinion. It’s easy for words to get minced, but by having someone else read the article, there is a chance to take a step back, re-write, and try again.
Understand that it takes time to know what works and what doesn’t. One article doesn’t make anyone an expert, so it’s important to keep in mind that there will be plenty of edits to be made before publishing articles that are considered a sensitive topic. Reporters and editors are trying to cover communities they may not know much about. Be patient and be willing to grow.