The New York Times reports that on Wednesday, June 29, many news outlets in San Francisco will do something that is highly unusual for journalists in a competitive market; they will coordinate their resources to cover a single topic, the problem of homelessness. Furthermore, in addition to reporting on homelessness, the news outlets plan to suggest solutions that might be adopted in the San Francisco Bay area, where 6,000 people live without shelter.
The cooperative endeavor is being led by the San Francisco Chronicle. So far, in addition to the Chronicle, thirty news outlets have confirmed they will participate, including The San Francisco Examiner, Mother Jones, public television and public radio station KQED, KRON-TV, San Francisco magazine and various online publications.
Objectivity is a pillar of American journalism and rarely do news outlets openly assume an advocacy role. One reason to avoid advocacy is that it may result in biased or selective reporting. However, in this case the participating journalists do not appear concerned about expressing a viewpoint. The New York Times quotes Jon Steinberg, editor of San Francisco magazine, as saying, “We are all fed up. We feel there is not enough movement and accountability on the issue. We want the full force of the Fourth Estate to bear down on this problem.”
“You will not be able to log onto Facebook, turn on the radio, watch TV, read a newspaper, [or] log onto Twitter without seeing a story about the causes and solutions to homelessness,” said Audrey Cooper, editor-in-chief of The Chronicle.