“I've never been one of those conflicted black reporters who just wants to be a reporter. I always knew I wanted to write about race. The only reason I wanted to be a journalist was to write about race.”
In this episode of On Assignment, Nikole Hannah-Jones talks about her pathway to journalism, from her high school newspaper, where she wrote about being bussed to school from the black side of town, to The New York Times Magazine, where she continues to write extensively about school segregation.
“Most writing about race simply says ‘there's a disparity that exists.’ That's not news... What's much more important is the why and the how. And I don't think that we see nearly enough of that.”
Along the way, Hannah-Jones says she’s learned: to be fair and accurate rather than objective; the challenges of navigating social media as a journalist; the necessity of fact-checking; and the importance of diverse newsrooms. “When I think about why reporters were ignoring school segregation,” she told Holt, “I think it's because a lot of reporters who are covering schools were white women who were just as afraid of those black kids that they were writing about as the parents who also wouldn't put their kids in the school.”
Hannah-Jones’ work earned her 2018’s John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Reporting.
Tune in for her conversation with NBC’s Lester Holt, where she goes deep on reporting about race, the perils of making things personal, and much more.