Criminal Justice and the Press: A Conversation

During this panel, three journalists who focus on justice reform issues explained the role that the press can take to spur reform and the challenges they currently face.

For Conor Friedersdorf, staff writer at The Atlantic, a large challenge for the press is that its “watchdog” function is not robust when it comes to criminal justice reform. Some of the most significant developments in criminal justice reform occur at the local level, but, unfortunately, as talented journalists leave their local papers to join national publications, these local stories go untold.

A potential solution to this issue offered by Scott Henson, curator of the blog Grits for Breakfast, is for advocates and scholars to collaborate more with local journalists. Henson urged the audience to be proactive when there is a local issue or story and to reach out to local journalists with additional information that might help the reporting.

Reihan Salam, executive editor of National Review, took the conversation in a different direction, talking about the narrative that surrounds our criminal justice system and the rise of “tough on crime” policies. As Salam explained, these policies resulted from a large coalition of people from across the political spectrum. For Salam, reporters can do better to keep these decision-makers accountable for flawed policies.

In addition to proposing more collaboration between scholars, reformers, and journalists, the panelists also called for more open-source information and data on criminal justice reform initiatives. To submit your proposal for criminal justice and policing reform, visit the Charles Koch Foundation’s Request for Proposals page.

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