The Level Up: Transformative Education for Journalists is an education program that works to equip journalists and community media makers with the analysis, skills, and tools they need to transform the field of journalism and expand the practice of southern movement journalism.
Our educational programs:
- help working journalists develop strategies to combat racism, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of oppression in the industry;
- support editors and journalism leaders to build more just newsrooms and organizations;
- develop journalism educators to transform their teaching with an anti-oppression frame;
- cultivate community among media makers in the South and help them skill up to be better reporters, podcasters, and writers.
Journalism has been in a holding pattern for over 50 years now: People of color, women, and trans and gender-nonconforming people are still few and far between in leadership and editorial roles. Meanwhile, local news in poor and rural areas has been chipped away by corporate consolidation and a changing business model, resulting in little to no access to good information for many local communities, both urban and rural. The model for journalism remains hierarchical and extractive, to the detriment of the communities most in need of strong information infrastructure.
And yet, we know that journalism remains a key part of social change and liberation: It can provide organizers and communities with actionable information that helps catalyze change. Journalism is more important than ever, especially in the South.
At Press On, we believe that how we do this reporting work matters. It is not enough to report about oppressed communities, we must enable reporting by and for oppressed people, shifting from a “diversity and inclusion” model to an approach that centers justice and liberation at every level.
We refer to this practice as movement journalism.
Press On’s education program helps journalists and media-makers build the political and historical analysis, skills, and tools they need to transform the field toward liberation. All of our workshops and trainings are responsive to needs we have heard from movement journalists and journalists from marginalized communities and identities in the South. Our curriculum is grounded in principles of popular education and Black liberation, and is tailored to specific groups and audiences based on need. Our workshops are also intersectional, focusing on racial and gender justice but not excluding discussions of disability justice, LGBTQ issues, and economic oppression in the field of journalism. We focus on examining systems of power, historically and today, in order to take action toward change.
Our curriculum centers Southern media-makers of color, queer and trans, immigrants, Black and indigenous, and people from low-income and rural communities, but our programming is frequently open to national audiences and collaborators across a variety of identities and sectors. Currently, all Press On educational programming is offered online due to the social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We previously offered a day-long or 1.5 day in-person workshop called “Transforming Journalism Beyond Diversity.” That workshop is currently offered as a four-part series of 90-120 minute workshops on Zoom, designed to help journalists analyze power in their lives, their newsrooms, and ultimately take action toward change:
- Understanding identity and power
- Analyzing oppression in journalism
- How journalists resist oppression, historically and today
- Strategy session for transforming journalism beyond “diversity”
We strive to make our trainings and workshops accessible in a variety of ways, including providing trainings for free and sliding scale rates, providing interpretation, translation, and technical assistance, and working in partnership with community organizations and local journalists to tailor our events.
Large organizations are asked to pay full price or a donor rate to help support organizations with fewer resources.
See our full menu of workshops and trainings.
Program Director Lewis Wallace (they/them/theirs, he/him/his) is a journalist based in Durham, North Carolina, who’s been active in movements for racial and gender justice for 20 years. Since 2012, he’s been a full-time reporter and editor, primarily with public radio, and previously he was the coordinator of a community-produced media program with the prison abolition organization Project NIA. He has extensive experience with mentorship and political education for both activists and journalists, and his journalism has been recognized with many local and national awards. His book and podcast about the history and future of “objectivity” in journalism, The View from Somewhere, were released in late 2019. He is white and transgender.
Lead Trainer Mia Henry (she/her/hers) is the founder and principal of Freedom Lifted, a company providing civil rights tours to the Deep South and social justice trainings using a historical lens. Mia has more than 18 years of experience in nonprofit management, social justice facilitation, leadership development, and history education. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College and the founding director of the Chicago Freedom School.
Movement Podcasting Trainer Hideo Higashibaba (he/him/his) is an audio producer, drag queen (Kiki Miyazaki) and stand up comedian. He develops podcasts from concept to launch, with a particular eye for writing and editing. As a drag queen and stand up, Hideo is committed to creating spaces for oppressed peoples, to whom comedy and drag truly belong. He is the host and creator of Growing Up Moonie podcast.
Movement Podcasting Trainer Roxana Bendezú (she/her/hers), an immigrant woman of color from Lima, is an activist documentarian and socio-political analyst. In January of 2019, Roxana founded Migrant Roots Media, an organization that seeks to serve as a platform that collects and amplifies the perspectives of migrants on the root causes of migration, as well as of the people who struggle to stay and thrive in their homes and on their lands.
See our previous trainings.
Press On’s political education in 2019 and 2020 has included collaborations with MLK50 in Memphis, City Bureau in Chicago, the Duke Center for Documentary Studies in Durham, Migrant Roots Media, SRCCON/Open News, and the Center for Cooperative Media.
Our programming is funded by the Ford Foundation and we have received additional funding from PEN America’s Press Freedom Fund.
Allied Media Projects is our fiscal sponsor.