The 2017 MacArthur fellow, who works at The New York Times Magazine and covers discrimination and segregation, presented some of her most important values as a journalist:
- Meticulously reporting: “The kind of reporting that I do is making an argument. I have to convince you that what you think is right is not right. We can’t expect people to trust what we tell them, because people don’t trust reporters anymore. So there has to be reporting that cannot be disputed. I read obsessively on everything I’m reporting on.”
- The stories have to be intensely narrative. “It can’t be a story about abstract content. If you don’t have humanity, you can spend a year on a blockbuster investigation, people will not care if you don’t show a human aspect they can relate to. Narrative means you’re telling a story all the way through, and that means you have to spend a lot of time to gather the information.”
- My work is deeply historical. “It’s important to say: This is not by accident, we have created this, its foundational. The running joke in my office is all my articles start in 1619. But if you want to undo the harm, you have to put an equal amount of time that was put to creating it. And if you don’t undo it, it’s not going to change just because the law says so.”
A full transcript of the keynote is available here, thanks to Nieman Storyboard.