Last Friday, I attended The State of the Black Press Luncheon and Rountable event in collaboration with Black Press Week 2013. The week’s event was hosted by the National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) and the panel included advocates of black media, activists and former journalists. I was in a room full of seasoned journalists, including publishers of black-owned newspapers, black photographers and local communicators. The luncheon kicked off with a delicious meal and good table conversation. As the moderator hit the podium, the discussion was on and we, the audience, were left to help solve the problem. What is left of the black press?
Moderator George Curry, Journalist, informed the panel that he wanted short but straight to the point answers. Meaning, he didn’t want a fluffy headline or some unknown jargon that would leave the crowd confused. He wanted simple answers.
The panel included: Dr. Ben Chavis, Co-founder/President & CEO of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network; Kevin Lewis, Director of African American Media for the White House Communications Office; Charles Ogletree, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School; Jineea Butler, Founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union. All agreed that the black press will and could only stay relevant if the community demands it. I could understand that. I think to my own daily reading. I hardly ever include black-owned publications for my news; I rely on mainstream media to provide me the good, the bad and the ugly of what’s going on in my community. As an African American Public Relations professional, I have to do better at my own job when pitching media. It’s rare that I consider the black media when brainstorming possible media outlets. It’s not that I don’t think it’s relevant to the black press, maybe I’m like others who have perhaps just forgotten about the black press.
Through the luncheon, the panelists continued to make an argument that the black press also has a job to do. With new technology, they have a duty to stay current. I would agree with that. Also, the panelists pointed back to the audience, to take the charge that we make the black press more inclusive.
So do we still need the black press? Of course we do. The panelists would agree. I came across an article on Huffington Post that said today’s black press provides a valuable service to a community that continues to be underserved by the mainstream media, Could this be true, again, how could I possibly forget?
The next day, I wrote a note to my boss stating, I need to do more pitching to black press and he supported that decision. The black press is here to stay!
About The Author
Tiffany Young is the manager of public relations for American Public University System. She has more than seven years of experience in media relations, event management, and public relations. She earned a certificate in Public Relations from the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies and received a B.A. in Mass Communications from Virginia State University.