Positive Impact Awards: Adam Matthews, News Reporting on Sustainability – Feature

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This year, to celebrate the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator’s first year in operation, we want to acknowledge some of the individuals who have been alongside us, have inspired us and are part of the journey forward. To that end we are launching the first annual Pratt Institute/BF+DA Positive Impact Awards.

Investigative journalist Adam Matthews is being awarded the News Reporting on Sustainability–Feature award for his “Toxic Fashion” article that appeared this past summer on the cover of Newsweek.
We asked him to talk about crisis journalism, how readers wear their hearts on their sleeve when they read about horrible things and want to do something to help or make change-so how can reporters engage mainstream readers when it’s not a time of crisis?

“I don’t think that the question here is only about the reporters. Once I get an assignment, I can use that assignment as a way in to ask really important questions. Assignments generally come through tragedies or news pegs like the passing of the Trans Pacific Trade partnership. I think the issue with coverage is that it’s easier to visualize dysfunction when we see something like Rana Plaza or the Foxconn suicides. It’s far harder to explain the structural issues with enforcement and non-functioning institutions in many of the Asian countries where we manufacture our clothing. The reason for this is American readers need a narrative that resonates with them.

My role is to meet both the needs of my editor to have a good narrative and the needs of the population whose struggles I am tasked with conveying. I would say overall that it’s crucial for me to engage with editors and for editors to engage with me so we can find the best way to present these issues consistently and not just wait for the next disaster.”

RSVP for our awards ceremony here.