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This article was first published by Reynolds Journalism Institute on Sept. 1, 2021.

Shortly after the pandemic began, the Global Forum Online (PJP), which I co-founded, started sharing essays and articles by incarcerated writers on COVID-19 experiences in prison. At the time, there was very little information available about the situation in prisons especially as they went on lockdown and halted visitations and programs.

With a single ad in Prison Legal News, a widely-read publication inside prisons, we were off. Submissions began pouring in from across the country, not just about coronavirus experiences but also about George Floyd’s murder, police brutality, LGBTQ experiences and other aspects of prison life.

By mid-summer, we realized two things. First, the world of 2.3 million incarcerated people held an array of potential stories, news and talent far beyond what we had imagined. There were endless possibilities for interesting community journalism work that pushed the boundaries of what has been done before. Secondly, we were doing this during a time of racial reckoning when our industry was confronting the lack of equity and inclusivity in our ranks, and many newsrooms were making a genuine effort to incorporate underrepresented voices in their coverage.

Read more here.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Yukari Iwatani Kane is a founder and CEO of Global Forum Online.

She is an author, educator and veteran journalist with 20 years of experience and was a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. Her book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs was a best-seller, translated into seven languages. She has taught at Northwestern University and UC Berkeley as well as at San Quentin State Prison, where she developed a curriculum for prison journalism.

Yukari is an alum of the INN Emerging Leaders Council and Reynolds Journalism Institute and is currently a fellow in the 2024 CUNY Executive Program in News Innovation and Leadership. She is also a member of News Literacy Project’s advisory council and an advisor for San Quentin News and The Endeavor, a prison newspaper at Everglades Correctional Institution in Florida.