Ford Foundation

He’d Lost Faith in Journalism. Then He Started Teaching in Prison.

In 2012, William Drummond had begun to lose faith in journalism. A changing media landscape in the age of the Internet had led to what he saw as an abandonment of the fundamentals. So when the Berkeley journalism professor was invited to teach a class at the San Quentin State Prison and become an advisor at the San Quentin News, the renowned paper published by inmates, he saw an opportunity to do something meaningful and decided to put his students to work at the paper as well.

From the Spring 2020 issue of California.

Poor Journalism: Is Media Coverage of the Poor Getting Better or Worse?

In 2000, Tina Rosenberg, a journalist for The New York Times, pitched a story for its Sunday magazine about the AIDS epidemic ravaging the world’s poorest nations. She wanted to show how pharmaceutical companies had pressured governments in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 12 adults were living with HIV or AIDS, to deny access to generic drugs, making treatment unaffordable.

Her editor’s response: “I cannot subject our readers to another 7,000-word story on how everybody is going to die in Malawi.”

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