The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020, sparked a national conversation about systemic racism and police brutality in the United States. It also brought many changes to American newsrooms and newsrooms across
the world and in essence to journalism, as several important lessons were learned from this tragedy.
The murder highlighted the importance of eyewitness video footage in reporting on police violence. The video footage taken by bystander Darnella Frazier on her phone, which showed Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, was instrumental in bringing attention to the incident and helped to galvanize public outrage. It also won her a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. This underscores the importance of citizen journalism and the power of technology to hold authorities accountable.
Secondly, the incident sparked important conversations about systemic racism in law enforcement. Many newsrooms and journalists in the United States were already reporting actively on race-related issues, but the murder underscored why it really matters and prompted newsrooms that were not talking about race to start. It also demonstrated the need for journalists to understand their responsibility to accurately report on these issues and provide context for their readers. The murder also challenged journalists to find deep understanding of the historical and social factors that contribute to systemic racism, as well as a commitment to ethical and responsible reporting.
Thirdly, the murder highlighted the importance of diverse newsrooms and the need for news organizations to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. Many newsrooms realized the need to bring diverse perspectives to important conversations about systemic inequality and injustice, and also to issues of gender and identity.
Finally, the murder emphasized the role of journalists in holding those in power accountable. Journalists have a crucial role to play in exposing and reporting on incidents of police brutality and other abuses of power, and in advocating for meaningful reforms to address systemic issues. This requires a commitment to rigorous and thorough reporting, as well as a willingness to challenge power and speak truth to authority.