Imagine a new generation of journalism based in authenticity, illuminating unheard voices, and empowering young people to tell their stories the way they should be told. That’s where CultureWorks member, Just Media, is making a real difference in the world of journalism, young writers, and the future of media.
Our team had the honor of sitting down with Just Media’s Philly Program Manager and Fellowship Coordinator, Rjaa Ahmed (she/them). Young, passionate about creating a better future, and no stranger to press censorship and fear-driven narratives, the Pakistan Native explained Just Media’s mission with both vulnerability and a fierce tenacity for change.
“Just Media is this national hub of storytellers that want to rejuvenate the kind of narrative that exists about the incarceration and policing system in America. This is an area of reporting where not a lot of people with lived experience are spotlighted.”
Just Media operates in a space that not only allows, but pushes the idea of giving young people the tools to tell their own stories and control their own narratives. In the Just Media fellowship program, young journalists are trained, storytellers are supported, and underrepresented voices are brought to light.
“We know that Black and Latinx people are more likely than white people to value seeing their communities and people like them represented in the news media. We also know that journalists of color are more likely to give issues impacting communities of color fuller and fairer coverage. Still, newsrooms grossly underrepresent journalists of color, opening huge gaps in coverage.”
To this end, Just Media is committed to building a network of writers and cultural organizers who represent the communities who are actually at the center of justice politics. Their mission begs two questions:
What if the stories being told in the media match the one being told in the streets?
What if young, directly impacted, movement-aligned writers were the ones to cover it?
Even beyond placing importance on grassroots-communication, Just Media prioritizes healing and creating an introspective space for its staff and its fellows who are often dealing with harmful narratives, triggering topics, and sensitive information, especially in its home base of Philadelphia.
“The work we do here can be triggering. I want to be really cognisant of breaking up some of our heavier programming with some healing-oriented programming… especially for those of us who have lived experience. A space for collective healing is really important to us.”
Being a part of the CultureWorks family has been a great resource for Just Media as they navigate how to maximize the impact of their program. From having a physical space to host workshops and other fellowship events, to holding down the administrative tasks behind the scenes, CultureWorks is excited to provide support to this Philly-based organization whose mission lies in amplifying the untold stories of our surrounding communities.