‘Somebody has to take responsibility’: Journalist tackles sexual health crisis

by admin
‘Somebody has to take responsibility’: Journalist tackles sexual health crisis

Sophia Smith Galler has almost 500 thousand followers on TikTokWikimedia Commons / Lucas Schulze

If you’ve been on TikTok at any point in the past few years, there’s a good chance you’ve seen some of Sophia Smith Galler’s videos. Both memorable and educational, Sophia’s content centers around sex education, language videos and general interest news.

Having amassed over 490,000 followers on the app, her influence is widely recognized – she is credited with changing the way traditional journalism interacts with social media. In addition, Sophia is a senior news reporter at Vice World News and the author of Losing It, a book demystifying modern taboos surrounding sex and relationships. It’s clear that she has a lot of strings attached, and when we meet, she’s just as passionate about the topics she talks about as she is online.

When Sofia started posting videos on TikTok in 2019, she was also working as a video journalist for the BBC. She noticed the trend of the app’s popularity and realized that “if one day I have to do [BBC videos] for TikTok, I need to know how it works.” That’s why I did it and why I continued to do it.”

Although her perspective on the changing online space is what led her to post videos on TikTok in the first place, her employers weren’t on the same page. She recalls that “I was told that I was not allowed to do journalism [TikTok]’, although ‘there were many other BBC journalists at the time ‘TikTok-ing’ and being encouraged to do so. I didn’t see why I couldn’t.”

After leaving the corporation, she told me that her videos are now used in internal training at the BBC. “I don’t know what to do with it,” she says. She acknowledges the difference between traditional news organizations like the BBC, where “there’s always going to be a lot of debate” about these changes, and newer organizations like her current company, Vice, which “understood vertical video storytelling from the ground up.”

In fact, she sees the black-and-white judgment of various social media apps as “strange.” Misinformation is often raised when criticizing TikTok, but Sophia points out that “all social media platforms are well-known” for spreading misinformation – not just TikTok, but also Twitter and Facebook (identified as “good” platforms for journalists). which are called question.

Sophia’s work often focuses on accurate and empowering sex education, something that is complicated when TikTok’s algorithm can “hide” videos that mention certain explicit words and sexual terminology. When I ask her how she reacts to this obstacle, Sofia is immediately adamant that it’s “deeply irritating” when we’re trying to share “high-quality, accurate information about sexual reproductive health.”

Often, creators in this space are faced with the decision of whether to censor certain aspects in order for the video to be seen. Sofia tells me that “we want to reduce taboos and remove them. And if we censor ourselves, that seems counterproductive to us.” Ultimately, though, she thinks it’s more important that the content is actually seen.

Sofia went further than TikTok in sharing information about sexual health: in 2022, she published “Losing It”, a book focusing on the taboos surrounding sex education. She was drawn to this area of ​​research for both professional and personal reasons: looking at the long-term effects of a lack of sexuality education, it was clear that “there are many areas […] where access to health rights and justice when it comes to sex are not where they should be.”

“We don’t necessarily think we’re victims of a system that’s failing us […] but the point is that someone has to take responsibility.

On a personal level, Sofia’s own experience at an “outdated sex education” school in the late 2000s and early 2010s left her “completely unprepared” […] about sex, gender and power dynamics.” When she adds that this experience is probably something many young people can relate to, she vehemently agrees: “why is it universal? And why aren’t we more angry about it?’

But what can be done about this sexual health crisis? Sofia claims that “we don’t necessarily think we are victims of a system that is failing us […] but the point is that someone has to take responsibility”. She points to the Department for Education, which promised £6 million to teachers in 2019 for sex education training, but has only given around half that amount – “so if you feel under-resourced, it’s not your fault”.

Sofia also has several ongoing projects to address this issue. Her work as a visiting fellow at Brown University focuses on creating resources to teach better online media literacy in schools, and she recently launched a project to improve sexual reproductive health information on Wikipedia in different languages.

It’s clear that the many facets of her work, from journalism and languages ​​to online and sexuality education, culminate in her dedication to making lasting change; “I want to use my social media to make a longer-term impact on the internet.”

Source Link

You may also like