This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Salt Lake Tribune is a beautiful place, full of extraordinary journalists committed to finding the truth, holding authorities accountable and serving the public. In order to make sure nothing I did got in the way of those goals, I scrupulously adhered to standards of journalistic objectivity while I was on the staff.
But today was my last day, and I don't have to do that anymore.
We live in a world where the most powerful among us believe in pure fantasy but fantasy that has very real consequences. They think stealing money from the poor and giving it to the rich will make the working class healthier and wealthier. They think that keeping people of color away from the polls or out of the country will enhance democracy. They think freedom for the masses means "choosing" between one terrible, low-wage job and another terrible, low-wage job, while freedom for the bosses is deciding which summer home to buy after a profitable round of layoffs. They think the best way to protect and serve is to give police guns and grenades, then look the other way when they use them.
This irrational, upside-down situation makes a certain kind of sense (to the powerful) because it serves their interests and holds them up in the lofty heights.
It also provides an endless stream of important stories upon which journalists can shine the light of truth. But in my time at The Tribune, I watched this already unjust world become worse and worse. Eventually, it was no longer enough to help Utah's best journalists speak truth to power I want to fight power directly. I want to help turn the world right-side up, and that requires more than a newspaper.
It requires a movement.
That kind of change happens in the streets and in workplaces, union halls and community centers. It happens behind megaphones and protest banners. It happens wherever people realize our system the rule of capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy isn't built to serve them, and wherever they decide to get together and build something new.
It has always been movements of the oppressed that radically changed things. No corporate executives ever woke up and said to themselves, "You know what, I think my employees deserve a living wage and an eight-hour workday in safe conditions."
On the contrary, it took decades of struggle, thousands of strikes and occupations, even deaths at the hands of hired goons and federal agents before the movement of workers gained what most people now consider basic rights rights that are nevertheless under constant attack.
The same can be said of the centurieslong movement for black liberation, and the movements of native peoples, of women and of LGBTQ people. Every gain has to be taken, has to be wrenched from elite hands and then defended relentlessly.
I recognize that journalism especially high-quality, hard-hitting journalism like The Tribune's is indispensable in the fight for justice and equality, precisely because it can amplify the voice and power of the people. I think the excellent coverage of campus sexual assault that brought home a Pulitzer Prize shows that fact.
But these stories would have been impossible without the brave women who came forward to tell their stories and do the work, who struggled with school administrators for months or years, who organized the protests and petitions and lawsuits that forced the powerful to acknowledge that they existed. They had to struggle long before any stories were written, and they are an inspiration.
There are so many good people in Utah already doing the work of building movements for justice, fighting for black and brown people, immigrants and women, opposing U.S. wars, seeking environmental justice. I want to be there, supporting and contributing everything I can to the groups that have the will to take power into their own hands and change the world.
David Self Newlin was, until today, a member of The Tribune's web team. He'll soon begin as a technical writer at a local tech company.