Our Media Should Look Like Our Cities

Ten years. That’s how long it took me, a journalist of color, to finally find a full-time job as a journalist. As the first in my immediate family to be born in this country, I couldn’t afford to take an unpaid newsroom internship for 20, maybe even 40, hours a week while paying my rent.

I’m not alone. Alex T. Williams, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, highlights the prevalence of unpaid internships in journalism as one of the factors behind the appalling racial disparity in the media. You’ve read countless times on Next City about the tremendous racial wealth disparity in the U.S. — giving some but not others the ability to draw on family savings while taking an unpaid internship for three to six months, even a year. It’s just part of the reason why people of color represent more than half the population of the 10 largest U.S. cities, but only represent 16.6 percent of full-time journalists around the country.

Today, as editor of Next City, I find myself in position to do something about that — but I still can’t do it alone. I could use your help.

It’s with the help of others, such as the Emma Bowen Foundation, that Next City is able to offer a paid summer internship for a journalist of color. Your donation today will go directly toward paying our intern’s stipend and managing the program.

In my time as a contributing writer for Next City, it was my privilege to be part of “the change we wish to see in the world.” Here I was, a person of color and from an immigrant family reporting on solutions to challenges faced by communities of color and immigrants across the U.S. From 2015 through 2017, I interviewed 521 people as a contributing writer, and 372 of those people were underrepresented by race or by gender.

Today, you can help me help other journalists of color to continue shaping stories about communities of color — not because those communities are better or more important than others, but because when cities get better for marginalized groups, they get better for everyone.

When you support our urban affairs internship, you may choose from a number of great new thank-you gifts, including “Copenhagenize” by Mikael Colville-Andersen or our print edition of “Philadelphia in Flux.” Won’t you join hundreds of other Next City readers by making a tax-deductible donation today?

Sincerely yours,
Oscar Perry Abello
Editor, Next City

P.S. Check out the work of our first urban affairs intern, Cassandra Maddox.

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