Indivisibles learn how to be journalists and speak as a group

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Maggie Downs, a columnist, blogger and journalist, spoke at the April 20 Idyllwild Indivisibles session about citizen journalism. Photo by Peter Szabadi

Two women from the desert area were the guest speakers at last week’s Idyllwild Idyllwild Indivisible meeting: Maggie Downs, a journalist, and Joy Silver, an LGBT and aging consultant, as well as organizer of Courageous Resistance.

Downs encouraged the attendees to become citizen journalists during the age of President Trump. She has spent more than 14 years as a journalist with daily papers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Cincinnati Inquirer, as well as as a columnist and blogger.

“I feel it is more important now than ever before to carry the torch and all be journalists,” Downs began. “Approach your opposition like a journalist working a beat.”

This was her first suggestion — find a beat. “Find something to be passionate about and make that your goal. Read a lot of articles on both sides of the issue,” she urged people.

She offered 10 more tips for becoming a citizen journalist in today’s environment. She discussed how to collect information and how to use it or disseminate it. Collecting news and understanding it involves greeting sources skeptically, demanding answers from officials, asking questions and listening to everyone’s positions.

When sharing this information or news, she urged one to be accurate and to be clear. But, also, she said her success has come from advice that an early mentor shared with her. “Elevate the voices not being heard,” she said. “Those who are loudest have an agenda. Find those who aren’t being heard and lift them up.”

The method for making the vital point is storytelling, not simply facts, but the consequence of actions on people.

Silver, originally from New York, has been an activist in the LGBT community since the 1980s.

Her advice, based on her experience, was “working together makes things happen. Bring many people together to have an impact.” That is one goal of the Courageous Resistance movement, bringing similar minds together and collectively an action will evolve.

While bringing people together is an important step, it should not be replaced with political purity, she admonished. “That hinders and stops progressive change,” she stated.

She also made the same point as Downs about finding the subject that creates and feeds your passions. “You can’t do everything. Learn to focus on a goal and become relentless in its pursuit,” she advised.

The two speakers were followed by Carmen Ginter, a member of Idyllwild Indivisibles, who was recruiting people to join her subgroup working on immigration issues, such as Senate Bill 54, establishing California as a sanctuary state.

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