Naomi Klein on activist journalism

Naomi Klein, best-selling author and a leading critic of globalization, was in Austin this weekend to speak and help raise funds for the Workers Defense Project. I didn’t get a chance to see her, but I did catch her interview with Riz Khan on Al Jazeera English a few weeks ago. At the start of the interview Klein explains with real eloquence how she conceives of her role as an “activist journalist.” Here’s the exchange:

Kahn: You know, you’re an activist, journalist and a writer – but how do you define yourself?

Klein: I usually define myself as an activist journalist, by which I mean a journalist who is embedded in movements for social change – I identify with the movements I write about. I’m not a propagandist for those movements, I’m committed to the truth, I’m committed to fact-checking. But I’m proud to be associated with these movements and aligned with these movements. And of course I’m an author.

Kahn: When you write, in fact your books have an impact because the multinational corporations, politicians, they do listen – is that something you think about when you set out on a project, is it that you want to make that mark with them?

Klein: No I don’t write for multinational corporations or powerful politicans. I do have a reader in mind, and in a sense it’s myself when I was younger. There’s this phrase that journalists use a lot, which is ‘speaking truth to power,’ and I think a lot of journalists do think about their work in those terms. I really don’t. I think about speaking truth about power to people who generally see themselves as powerless, but who I think are more powerful than they know…

Watch the whole interview, which nicely focuses more on Klein’s personal story than politics, here.

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