“What differentiates poor people from rich people is lack of voice. The inability to be represented. The inability to convey to the people in authority what it is they think. The inability to have a searchlight put on the conditions of inequality … a free press is absolutely vital to that objective. Freedom of the press is not a luxury. It is not an extra. It is absolutely at the core of equitable social and economic development.”
These words by James Wolfensohn, a one-time president of the World Bank, succinctly describe the reasons why Atkinson is investing in daily labour beat reporting as a strategy to challenge income and wealth inequality.
The relationship between news media organizations like the Toronto Star and foundations like ours has been in transition for several years now. When Atkinson entered into its first contract with the Star a “work and wealth” beat in 2014, Canada’s mainstream media outlets had not covered labour full-time since 2007. What began as a short-term fix to protect workers’ rights during a period of historic legislative reform has become a widely valued source of high quality public interest journalism on workers’ lives and livelihoods. More background information about this project is available here.
Sara Mojtehedzadeh has been the Toronto Star‘s Work and Wealth Beat Reporter since 2014. Sara has won numerous awards for her daily and in-depth reporting. She’s gone undercover as a baked goods factory worker and a food courier to get the full story — the kind of story that can spark critical public policy changes.
In 2020, the Toronto Star with support from Antica Productions produced a six-part podcast series on Foodora couriers’ fight to form a union. It’s called Hustled and hosted by Sara. Listen to it here or on your favourite podcast provider. You can also listen to Sara tell the story of her beat in this 2020 TEDxToronto talk.