Tune into any news station, and you will hear the words “Breaking News” followed by phrases like “more violence” and “another tragedy.”
These terms have become so synonymous with commercial news that people, including me, do not bother to tune in. The Oxford Dictionary defines news as “newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events.” By this definition, news, in and of itself, is neutral—neither good nor bad. So why is the majority of the news we receive from commercial media bad?
I posed this question to a group of journalists and media executives in July 2023 at the Asian American Journalist Association Convention in Washington, D.C.
“When we typically engage in conversations about race,” I said, “it’s to prove a point or win an argument. It’s about ‘those people,’ ‘why do they always’ and ‘if they only.’ The rhetoric is immersed in fear and othering. Much of the reporting that is produced about communities of color is based on their trauma and deficits, instead of their joy and strengths.”
What racial healing circles provide are a safe and respectful space for people to be seen, heard and appreciated in their full humanity. People, especially those who perceive themselves to be different from each other, have an opportunity to share their stories, and find common, or perhaps even higher ground. When that happens, the outcomes are compassion, hope and belonging.
I shared john a. powell’s concept of Bridging: Toward a Society Built on Belonging and asked: What if every time you post a “Breaking News” headline, you balance it with a “Bridging News” headline?
Instead of “more violence” and “another tragedy,” we hear, “more healing” and “another celebration”?
That hit a chord with the audience as these journalists did what they did best—ask questions.
“How do you get people in the room?”
“What happens in a circle?”
“What do you mean by healing?”
“Give me an example of a healing outcome. How do we know these circles actually work?”
We talked about what it might mean to be a journalist who reports “Bridging News” as well as “Breaking News.” And when we looked around the room, we found no better example of this than our moderator, Richard Lui.
Lui is a respected journalist, author, filmmaker and anchor for MSNBC/NBC News. He is the first Asian American male to anchor a daily, national news show (CNN Headline News from 2007-2010). In addition, Lui is deeply involved in community work, serving as ambassador to the Epilepsy Foundation and Because I Am A Girl Campaign with Plan International USA.
While he delivers “Breaking News” headlines for MSNBC/NBC News, Lui is a quintessential “Bridging News” journalist. He is known for investigating and reporting on humanitarian stories around the globe. He has directed two incredible films: “Sky Blossom” (2020), which focuses on young people who are caretakers for their parents and grandparents, and “Unconditional” (2023), which chronicles his own seven-year journey with his father, who was living with Alzheimer’s, and two other families as they confronted chronic and terminal illnesses.
After meeting with Lui and his incredible colleagues, my vision for this movement—building communities of belonging—expanded. Now, in addition to bringing racial healing circles to every classroom, courtroom, lunchroom, boardroom and living room, I envision bringing circles of belonging to newsrooms.
What will that do? It would lead to sharing more celebratory and healing news—“Bridging News.”
We need newsrooms to share long form stories of people coming together in spite of, and perhaps in celebration of, their differences and choosing to coexist in harmony. Just as “Breaking News” stories reinforce division and fear, each story of “Bridging News” provides a healing salve for our souls and inspires us to continue radiating compassion, generosity, peace and joy.
Here are a few questions for reflection and discussion:
- Think about the news sources you read and listen to. How do they report breaking news?
- Where have you found media sources that report bridging news?
- What can you do to be a messenger of bridging in your community?
This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an essay for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and factcheck information to [email protected]. We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.