By Shayler Richmond
Joy Ann Reid, host of MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” sat down with me to discuss her work, being a journalist today, and creating her own lane, before delivering her keynote speech at Eastern Michigan University. Monday, Jan. 15. 2018.
Throughout her professional career, Reid has become an author, journalist, columnist, producer, campaign media aid, host, correspondent and broadcaster. And through her time in media she has gained insight on how important it is for journalists to remain curious and skeptical.
“Write every day. Constantly update your craft and curiosity because you can’t get far in this business if you don’t know what's going on in the world,” said Reid.
Her path to MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” lacked a conventional trajectory; her career has been a series of meeting the right people, which showcases the different means of gaining a platform.
Reid has enjoyed storytelling and writing since adolescence. While growing up, her mother was open to her staying up to watch the news, which is how she developed into a self-proclaimed “news junkie”. She grew up in a household where her parents had opposing political views and she was encouraged to debate.
Reid was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Denver Colorado. Her father from the Democratic Republic of Congo and her mother from British Guiana. Reid's West Indian heritage is still influential in how she operates today. She was encouraged by her mother who worked as a teacher to be accurate and hone in on grammar.
Despite her other interests she began studying Pre-Medicine her freshman year at Harvard. After her freshman year she took a year off, and while on leave she worked several jobs in media. Later returning to obtain her degree in documentary film.
“If a journalist is rinsed of their humanity then they won’t have any influence, so to gain influence you have to stand for something,” said Reid.
With influence a journalist can build a platform.
“Not saying that a journalist should be biased,” she continued, “but everyone thinks you’re biased, and thinks that you have a point-of-view because you do have a point-of-view. Therefore, to pretend you don’t is dishonest, and robs you of your influence.”
In the making of a good journalist honesty and influence go hand in hand.
“I am accountable and responsible for representing myself in a way that will be positive for people like me, and positively influential on people like me,” said Reid.
You can’t look in the media today without seeing aspects of culture discussed. Reid understands her responsibility not only as a woman in media, but as a woman of color.
Reid has people from all demographics working on her team. She reaches an older audience through her cable platform, and through social media reaches a younger base.
Journalists play a key role in our system of checks and balances of challenging what is said by people in power and seeking the truth and reporting it. Influence and audience comes with responsibility.
“Especially now because this is such an unprecedented kind of presidency, and there are so many things coming out that are threats to vulnerable people,” said Reid. “I feel if we’re not putting some advocacy in our journalism we’re not doing our job.”
Reid has added author to her list, recently coauthoring her second book, “We Are the Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama,” with E. J. Dionne.
The title of her first book, “Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide.” Reid discusses changes within the Democratic Party as the party has transitioned from a pro-slavery party to the party of the first African American President. And she pinpoints fractures between the Clinton and Obama world.
“I feel you have to look at the fractures within the Democratic Party to understand the fractures within the country,’ said Reid, “Because I feel they are a metaphor for each other.”
Reid consistently works to bring understanding to the news. The goal of “AM Joy,” is to take the news heard throughout the week and find clarity. “AM Joy,” airs on MSNBC, Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m.
“We’re not telling you the news. We’re doing an analysis of what you’ve seen all week, and discussing ways to make it make sense, while giving a sense of what you can do about it,” said Reid.
There have been moments on air where Reid has demonstrated a low tolerance for rhetoric and actions she views as discriminatory and disingenuous, though she stressed to me she isn't opposed to discussing contradictory views; she in fact upholds a healthy respect for debate with those on a different side; her only true enmity to dishonesty.
“It may look like it's a war between the media and Trump, but he's at war with us,” said Reid.