Over the course of a school year, I have tried my hand at writing a column on law, justice and the media.
The topics I have included in my columns involve things like:
- First Column Sept. 9
- Refugees/More refugees Sep. 18 and Dec. 4
- Black Lives Matter and grassroots movements Sep. 25
- Police rhetoric surrounding sexual assault and rape Oct. 5
- MSF Hospital bombing Oct. 9
- Gun rhetoric Oct. 21
- South African student movements Oct. 30
- The Drone Papers Nov. 6
- Ohio state law/marijuana legalization Nov. 13
- Whole Women’s Health v. Cole Nov 20
- Rahm Emanuel Jan. 14
- Athens Municipal Court Judge Todd Grace Jan. 22
- Juvenile justice Feb. 12
- Antonin Scalia’s legacy of originalism Feb. 19
- Deadpool Feb. 25
- ICE Detention Centers March. 11
- Chicago protests of Trump March 18
- Radley Balko March. 25
- Hacking Phones (Apple, the FBI and San Bernardino) April 1
- Interview with Liliana Segura April 13
- Prosecutors April 15
What have I gained from this? I had the opportunity to commit myself to constant examination of my own understanding of laws and the justice system. Coming to better understand the legal functions in America and abroad has been an incredible whirlwind. Never have I been short of ideas for stories, nor have I been waiting for an editor to give me a story idea. The justice system is an enthralling thing to study, as is legal verbiage that is boring to many others.
Who have I relied on for information? Publications like:
The Atlantic, SCOTUSBlog, Reason, Slate, The Washington Post, NPR, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Intercept and The New Yorker, just to name a few. Meanwhile, newly-emerging entities like The Marshall Project, Solitary Watch and The Intercept are increasingly becoming go-to sources for criminal justice topics.
What reporters, writers and thinkers have I taken the opportunity to follow closely for my work on a national level?
- Liliana Segura
- Radley Balko
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Jamelle Bouie
- Nina Totenberg
- Sarah Jeong
- Sarah McLaughlin
- Jason Leopold
- Jonathan Peters
- Hadas Gold
- Spencer Attackerman
- Matt Pearce
Something I am demanding myself to do more in the future is read more localized reporting. Any large paper or publication can swoop in and pull a vulture-like move, taking a hard-hitting story away from a typical coverage area. The Tampa Bay Times just picked up a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Why not rely on those on the ground and in communities to better understand criminal justice issues instead of just reading your favorite criminal justice reporter’s column under his/her New York Times byline? I need to get better at this, too … a lot better.
Reading journalists on the ground and covering substantial stories in the flesh should be done more.
I’ve been able to build stories largely thanks to the help of many resources and tools. Always find out what you have at your disposal as a writer; read books on topics; read case law; find state government entities that will break down new laws, policies and implementations; look over studies; solicit reader feedback; repeat: SOLICIT READER FEEDBACK; don’t steer away from it, and always listen to the criticisms; don’t fear different opinions.
What do I know after a year of writing about law, justice and the media? Not enough. Never enough. I’ll always have an insatiable appetite for information and will always be looking for ways to grow. You should, too. Thank you to whoever has read this column. Graduation, here I come.