Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Izzy Awards at Ithaca College, where Naomi Klein and David Sirota were honored for their exemplary contributions to independent journalism. Klein was honored for her most recent book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate and Sirota was honored for his series of exposes on corruption within the U.S. pension system.
The Izzy Award was named after I. F. Stone, a muckraking journalist and legendary independent journalist.
As a senior journalism student, it was really exciting to go to the Izzy’s because both Sirota and Klein made comments about journalism that made my career options look a little less bleak. Sirota said, “News is not journalism” and he made the distinction between reporting on a press release and digging for a story. He made an interesting point and I can agree with him not all news is journalism, simply restating something doesn’t make it journalism, it can be news, but that doesn’t make it journalism. He also told the audience that as a journalist you don’t have to “hit a home run every time,” that it is perfectly fine if your articles don’t always make a huge impact or create an important discussion every time. I just really appreciated how Sirota took a moment to recognize that not every story has to be a big scoop.
Klein’s speech had a number of fantastic one liners, and of course I took notes. She discussed the importance of “looking for the dirt behind the shine” and how important it is to make sure your stories are accurate. Klein discussed how journalism is more than just telling a story, its using the facts to start a conversation with the wider public. She joked about the traditional journalistic values like objectivity and how objectivity is used to quiet an argument. “Objectivity mean I object to your activity,” Klein said. I think one of the most important comments Klein made last night was about how she became an independent journalist. She said that her work involved a great deal of digging and a passion for the subject and because main stream media outlets don’t allow journalists to care about the issues, they have to become independents in order to be free to report passionately. That point really resonated with me.
It was great to hear someone speak about journalism as something other than a declining field, so thank you to both Naomi Klein and David Sirota for your dedicated journalism and your inspiring words.