The Spotlight of Journalism and Compassion

Nicholas Kristof has long been a hero of ours, not only because of his commitment to important social issues, but also because of his relentless pursuit of storytelling as a concrete method for creating change. In this awesome episode of Pubic Radio’s On Being, Kristof talks honestly about his journalistic motivation and technique. One of my favorite excerpts:

“people who start out agreeing with me think I’m brilliant, and people who start out disagreeing with me think I’ve utterly missed the point. And so over time, I came to think that, in fact, the power of a column and maybe more broadly the power of journalism isn’t so much to change peoples’ minds on issues that are already on the agenda, but rather it’s the capacity to shine a spotlight on some issue and then thereby project it on the agenda.”

This type of clear, honest, self-reflective thinking is what we need in non-profit video-making. Kristof reminds me with every column that it’s not about shouting the loudest or proclaiming “the truth”… It’s about the slow, creative battle for that single moment where the spotlight passes over someone and the conversation changes.

A great place to start exploring Nicholas Kristof’s reporting is his amazing book (co-written by his wife Sheryl WuDunn) Half the Sky & of course his NY Times Column.


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