People Depend On Us To Remain Calm And Steady In The Storm
By Loris Taylor, President & CEO, Native Public Media
In journalism, where truth is the valued currency and integrity the foundation, few figures stand as tall as David Muir. Today, he received the esteemed Walter Cronkite Award as the 40th recipient. As the familiar face of ABC World News, Muir has become a nightly guest in millions of homes nationwide, including Tribal reservations. I vividly recall Muir's 2021 report on the harrowing "kere" (hunger) crisis in Madagascar. His story was a stark testament to the profound impact of climate change on vulnerable communities. It reminded me of similar conditions across Indian Country.
Muir revisited the Madagascar story in acceptance of his Walter Cronkite recognition, underscoring the importance of bearing witness to human suffering and injustice. "We were following reports coming out of the UN. This was the first climate change famine driven entirely by the changes we were seeing in our climate. I will never forget the families in one of the villages that we visited. There was a little boy [filling his water jug], and when he was done, there was a bead of water right on the back of his hand. Something that none of us in this room would ever notice in our own daily lives. We watched as he licked the bead of water off his hand, and then he looked at his hands and arms and surveyed just to make sure there was no more water. Not even one bead of water would be wasted. I share that story with you because it is powerful and reminds us of how blessed and lucky we are and why training our eyes on the bead of water is so important. It goes back to what I was saying about bearing witness."
Muir's words paint a vivid picture of the dire circumstances faced by those grappling with the consequences of environmental degradation. Muir's ability to humanize these issues, to zoom in on the smallest details like a bead of water on a child's hand, underscores the essence of journalism. Our job is to illuminate the unseen and amplify the voices of the unheard.
Muir reminds us that "people depend on us [journalists] to remain calm and steady in the storm." This mantra resonates deeply in today's turbulent times. In an era of uncertainty and misinformation, our unwavering commitment to truth-telling is a stabilizing force providing solace to the public who seek clarity amidst chaos. As Muir aptly puts it, "If you reveal another piece of truth, they will remember it."