Since its inception 10 years ago, the mission of the Center for Sustainable Journalism and its New York bureau has always been to go to the frontlines where the issues of justice, inequity and abuses of power of young people are impacting people’s lives the most. Whether it’s on the streets where young people have been beaten by the police. Or when they have been tossed into the gears of an indifferent court system. When the city ignores the pleas of advocates trying to end youth violence or when young people peacefully assemble to call for an end to racist, brutal policies and practices. In the jail cells, where you might end up if you cover these issues long enough.
The pandemic sweeping the globe has affected the kind of reporting the CSJ and New York Bureau prides itself on. Until this crisis passes, our brand of reporting would not only imperil the lives of our reporters, it could endanger the lives of the people we cover. We have an ethical obligation to go against our journalistic instincts to wear out our shoe leather. But even though we are not able to put ourselves out on the streets, in the youth shelters, the courtrooms or in between police and the kids, we remain committed to reporting as best we can with the limitations that this unprecedented situation puts upon us.
As much as COVID-19 has transformed our lives in New York City and across the nation, it has done nothing to change our solemn obligation to our readers and to the vulnerable communities that we cover. Nothing about the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in will change that.