Can journalists also be activists and try to influence the news they cover? This age-old debate has been thrust into the limelight in recent weeks. For many years, Desmond Cole has written a column for the Toronto Star and reported on issues of anti-black racism in the city of the Toronto. His reporting of Black Lives Matter actions was, for a long time, the only reporting happening on their demands.
On April 20, Cole interrupted the City of Toronto Police Services Board meeting to protest the fact that the data collected from carding practices had not been destroyed. This prompted the Toronto Star to end Cole’s column, which in turn caused much outcry. The Star published an editorial condemning his actions, and the Beaverton, with a clever parody, exposed the Star’s own anti-black racism.
Socialists know that so-called journalistic neutrality is a concept that protects and serves the corporate elite who own and run the media, and that many issues of social justice never get covered because of it. Cole’s activism is one of principle and justice, and his work will be important to follow outside of the pages of the Toronto Star.