2022 Online Commentary finalist

Backspace with Sana Saeed


Online Commentary


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About the Project

With no public editors, with little room for public accountability in how newsrooms disseminate narratives and stories, there’s been an interest in media critique in recent years. Backspace offers long-form media critique, built for the online news consumer, that tackles popular narratives and the histories behind them. But our show also does something different: it aims to go beyond the critique and offer ideas and solutions for what newsrooms can do to better cover a particular subject and how audiences can better consume what it is they are reading or watching. We bring in journalists, academics, lawyers, organizers – people from across experiences to add to the critique and solutions.

In our pilot episode (‘The U.S Media Has a Palestine Problem’), we provided a word by word breakdown of how Israeli violence is obfuscated in US media coverage through language and platform. In our second episode (How The Threat of China Was Made in the US), we explored anti-Chinese motifs present in contemporary US media coverage of China and their root in a long history of anti-Chinese prejudice in the United States. We’ve explored so-called ‘cancel culture’, the failures of reporting on Afghanistan, the fundamental problem in framing when discussing France and its Muslim population and even the roots of the myth of overpopulation in the climate crisis discourse. We’re tackling common headlines in ways that may make some uncomfortable – in ways that some may even disagree with – but we’re actively pushing the conversation and journalism to demand better, because we believe we can do better as an industry. That is never a comfortable or popular battle to take on. The ultimate goal of Backspace, still in relative infancy, is to promote media literacy in a moment in time where distrust of the media is at an all time high. With Backspace, we’re trying to show how the possibility of better journalism can be made into a reality.