The Front Page: The AP shouldn’t sell NFTs

It’s Friday, February 25th. 

On Thursday, the Associated Press announced via Twitter it would sell a top-down video of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea as an NFT. A few hours later, the tweet was deleted.  

Matt Boggie, who leads product and tech at the Philadelphia Inquirer, offered a straightforward critique: “I encourage the AP to reconsider this horrific, extractive, dehumanizing act, cancel this offering, and reconsider its entire NFT program.”

For those that aren’t familiar, an NFT (non-fungible token) is a one-of-a-kind asset, representing mediums like art, photographs, or video. The AP’s NFT program currently encompasses much more than this planned sale: They’ve sold NFTs of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs and other innocuous images as well. 

“This was a poor choice of imagery for an NFT. It has not and will not be put up for auction,” Lauren Easton, a representative for the Associated Press, told TheWrap. “The tweet promoting it was also deleted.” 

The issue of the AP’s planned sale goes beyond just NFTs — there’s also the larger issue of how outlets uncritically use photos for shock value, sometimes at the expense of the subject or any tangible benefit to their material situation or acknowledgment of their dignity. 

“The AP NFT thing is a new level, but many media outlets are totally fine with blasting images of migrant death and suffering uncritically,” Tanvi Misra, a freelance reporter covering migration (and a member of The Objective’s advisory board), tweeted Thursday evening.

“With each RT and like and share, those images just normalize that suffering & compound the cruelty, apathy, dehumanization migrants already face.”

This issue is by Gabe Schneider and Holly Rosewood with editing by Curtis Yee

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A Bit More Media

Q&A: Imani Bashir — In 2020, Imani Bashir told the Objective how Lifehacker fired her without warning in yet another industry example of empty promises following the media “reckoning.” Last week, she spoke with Juwan Holmes about her new venture, Takeoff Travel Mag. Read the full interview here.

“Resilience is an unfortunate requirement” — For the Objective, Anissa Durham writes about the myth that young reporters are lucky to find jobs. In fact, Durham reports, emerging journalists of color must work incredibly hard to find a place in an industry that “prides itself on transparency and justice yet falls short of it daily.”

Can the Inquirer change? — The first installment of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s “A More Perfect Union” series takes a critical look at racism within the newsroom, itself. Yet, as Ernest Owens reports, thus far Wesley Lowery’s article has only led to a lukewarm apology from Inquirer publisher Elizabeth Hughes.

A world without Slack — If the “knock brush” Slack notification makes your heart race, you’re not alone. As Alex Sujong Laughlin writes, the company’s Olympics ads are a reminder of the anxiety that results from journalism’s “always-available culture,” and that culture’s unequal toll on caregivers, neurodivergent people, and other underrepresented journalists. 

Why are journalists leaving WHYY? — 25 newsroom staffers have left or given notice to NPR member station WHYY since the start of 2021, reports Harold Brubaker. More than a dozen current and former employees say low pay, few advancement opportunities, and editorial disagreements contribute to departures. Former staffer Xavier Lopez also cites the failure to acquire and retain journalists of color in a Twitter thread

Voluntary recognition — Last Thursday, Grist management voluntarily recognized Grist Union, less than two weeks after staffers announced they were unionizing. According to the union’s website, audience, editorial, and engagement employees are part of the bargaining unit, and a third party has confirmed more than 90 percent of staff signed union cards.


Stay Up To Date 

0 days until … As newsrooms diversify, what’s changing & what’s challenging? Today at 2 p.m. EST, join the National Press Club and leaders from newsrooms across the country for a program on industry changes and remaining challenges.

1 day until … the second day of Race, Racism, & American Media. This virtual colloquium is hosted by the Georgetown University Racial Justice Institute, Media 2070, and the University of Houston Law Center. 

1 day until … Privilege, Ethics, and Sensitivity in Global Reporting. ($$$) Those who wish to attend this workshop on the responsibilities of journalists reporting abroad can register by donating to Spheres of Influence. 


A few more resources

For your portfolio website: If you identify as a journalist with a background historically underrepresented in journalism, Authory will provide you with a free one-year account to back up your articles (a $96 value). 

Looking for a job? Here are a few places to look: INN | ONA | | 10 Jobs and a Dog | NABJ | AAJA | NAHJ | NLGJA | @WritersofColor | MEO Jobs | Freelance Journalist Rates | Source Jobs | Opportunities of the Week ($)   

How about a style guide? Trans Journalist Association | Diversity Style Guide | Tribal Nations Media Guide | NABJ Style Guide | Disability Language Style Guide | AAJA Guide to Covering Asian Pacific AmericaNAHJ Cultural Competence Handbook 

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