Hi Meltingpot Readers,
Guess what I’m doing on Wednesday? I’m moderating a panel at Temple called, “Separate But Equal? The Role of the Black Media in the 21st Century.” The title of the panel was my idea and is deliberately incendiary because I wanted people to think, and because a good title always draws people in, don’t you agree?
But seriously, as a journalist, as a Black woman, as a media observer, it occurs to me that some people might think that the era is over when a separate Black media is necessary. We no longer live in a (legally) segregated society, so why would we need a segregated press? In my opinion, the answer is, we don’t. We don’t need a separate Black media in the year 2013, but we deserve to have one. And therein lies the difference between past and present.
In 1827 when the first Black newspaper was launched, it satisfied a very important need in the Black community. The Freedom Journal was working to counteract the attacks against Black people by the mainstream press and they served as a public voice against slavery. As time went on, the Black press continued to be both activist and information for a community that was routinely ignored and maligned by the mainstream media. Today, on the other hand, the Black press isn’t in that same position, the needs of the community have greatly expanded and changed.
The way I see it, today the Black community is so diverse, even the idea of a single Black press is foolhardy. Still, there is room in the media landscape for several publications catering to Black people in the United States — in print and online — to exist, flourish and prosper. Today’s Black media has to consider the Black community as a niche audience just as any other niche publisher considers an audience. In other words, if there can be a magazine for craft brewers and urban chicken farmers, then there can be a magazine for Black professionals, or Black people who live in Harlem, or Black women between the ages of 25-35 who like fashion. To me, that is separate and equal. And yes, it can be done and should be done. And not for nothing, I pretty much feel the same way about other ethnic media outlets as well.
At the panel on Wednesday, there will be speakers from radio, TV, print and digital outlets. I hope we can have a really good discussion about this topic. If any of you are in the Philadelphia area, please come and join us. If you can’t make it, the panel will be televised on TUTV at a later date and I believe will even be available online. I’ll keep you posted.
What do you think, dear readers? Is there a place in modern society for a separate ethnic media? What role do you think they should play? Let me know what you think so I can incorporate it into our panel discussion.
I’m so listening.