Miranda Spivack’s recent visit to #loweclass was a refreshing reminder of the significance of “unrewarding, labor intensive stories” in a fast-paced, click-motivated evolving world of journalism. The self-titled “government accountability reporting” specialist and former editor of The Washington Post received a 2015 O’Brien Fellowship.
“I don’t think people know what to be enraged about anymore,” Spivack said with a sense of urgency, describing the consequences of a lack of accountability reporting and more limited access to public information.
She assured us with hand gestures as vibrant as the colors in her scarf that pursuing government information at a state and local level may not be glorious work, but that doesn't make it less important. Spivack cited local and community news as the place “where peoples’ lives are most affected.”
“Every year, states are exempting more information from disclosure,” she said.
This lack of transparency is a problem based on principle according to Spivack, but it is also relevant to the everyday person when it comes into play around a hot button issue. Cue her project for the O’Brien Fellowship.
Spivack is looking at the accessibility of police information in different states, specifically video footage from body cameras. She said police conduct affects “everybody in every community.”
Body cameras have weaved their way into national conversation and police forces all over the country (like Milwaukee's) following a slew of high profile incidents where contested police conduct led to riots. Spivack’s research and reporting takes on the next natural conversation: how will these cameras affect the way the law is enforced?
“Should the footage be public?” she asked.
Spivack’s visit got me fired up about journalists’ essential role in ensuring the functioning of our democracy by protecting peoples’ access to information. She also showed me the power that journalists can have in shifting conversations. Spivack is taking an issue that is on everyone’s mind and is not just talking about it but bringing new information to the table that will inspire change as the country will see fit.
That’s pretty cool. You can consider me convinced, the time consuming, behind-the-scenes storytelling is important.
I am a senior studying journalism and international affairs at Marquette University. I am a Milwaukee-dweller and a storyteller passionate about exploring the intersection between community-building and communication. I'd love for you to learn alongside me!