Journalism is not a ‘neutral profession’: Nikole Hannah-Jones on ‘The 1619 Project’

Hannah-Jones wants readers of her work to feel disturbed and even guilty so that they “feel the desire to do something differently.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones
Image by Victor Lim / Photo by James Estrin
Nikole Hannah-Jones
Image by Victor Lim / Photo by James Estrin

Journalism is not a ‘neutral profession’: Nikole Hannah-Jones on ‘The 1619 Project’

Hannah-Jones wants readers of her work to feel disturbed and even guilty so that they “feel the desire to do something differently.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for creating The 1619 Project, a series from The New York Times that reframes American history by placing the institution of slavery at the center of the national narrative. The project was released as a book this month.

On this episode of WBEZ’s Art of Power podcast, Hannah-Jones tells host Aarti Shahani how she dreamt up the project while on sabbatical, what the backlash has taught her about how power works, and why journalism is not a neutral profession.

“I want you to feel deeply disturbed and hopefully guilty by the time you finish my work so that then you will feel the desire to do something differently,” she said.

We also trace her journey from dutiful education reporter at a small town newspaper to, well, firebrand.