In the past week, cities across the country have been home to hundreds of Black Lives Matter protests. These protests follow the May 25 death of George Floyd — a Minneapolis man who died after ex-officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Also in the last week, The Daily Nebraskan has sent editors, reporters and photographers to protests in Lincoln and Omaha. We’ve observed the scene, collected quotes and taken photographs in hopes of telling a fair and complete account of these events.
In this time, we’ve received concerns from our readers about the language in some of our headlines and captions. Specifically, concerns about us downplaying the severity of the situation or that our writing implied a bias toward a specific side.
As a news organization, The Daily Nebraskan cannot take sides. We must remain neutral, even in the most divisive of times. Taking a stance would jeopardize our ability to provide our readers with the full picture.
Our job is to report facts and observations. We can only hope to accurately inform our readers; what our readers choose to do with or think of that information is not up to us.
In reporting these facts, we must be clear and literal, and we are very careful about the language we choose.
For example, we cannot refer to the deaths of Floyd or James Scurlock as murders because the law has not decided Chauvin or Jake Gardner are murderers. If the defendant has not been prosecuted, the law says the defendant is innocent.
So, we too have to say the defendant is innocent. We cannot call the individual a murderer, nor can we call the individual’s act a murder.
What we can say is that we stand with the Black community — our readers, our peers, our educators and our staffers — in the fight against systemic racism.
This April, The Daily Nebraskan published a series of articles about diversity with one goal: Tell the stories of all University of Nebraska-Lincoln students.
We recognize that, while the university has taken steps in increasing diversity and inclusion on campus, there is considerate work to be done. We also recognize that we have a responsibility to use our platform to give a voice to those who are most often overlooked.
So, this project was just the beginning. We want to continue to educate our readers and ourselves by sharing the stories of Black and other minority communities.
But reporting outward isn’t enough. To stop systemic racism, we must look inward. We acknowledge that we have work to do in the diversity of both our coverage and our newsroom. We are actively working to expand the reach of our coverage to include all identities on campus and recruit a more diverse staff for our publication.
Going forward, we want to be known as both an ally and as an ethical source. Our job is twofold: report fairly and provide a voice for our community. We encourage students to take part in that coverage by joining our staff, submitting questions or writing letters to the editor.
The Daily Nebraskan wants to hold both ourselves and our leaders accountable, and we invite you to help us do that.