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FunTimes Magazine

Denise James

Denise James is an experienced journalist, multimedia content creator and teacher. She began her journalism career in Detroit, at the nation’s first Black owned television station. Positions there, at television stations in Greensboro and then Durham North Carolina lead her to Action News in Philadelphia. At Action News, she developed a reputation for thorough, creative, inclusive coverage, and for telling stories that reflect marginalized people’s truths in empowering ways. Now as a coach and a college instructor, she helps develop the journalists of tomorrow.

Her company, Denise James Media produces engaging content for diverse clients and coaches broadcast and multimedia professionals.

Denise has also applies her communication expertise as Organizational Communications Director for the Philadelphia Police Department, seeking to use communication as a tool to help nurture positive police-community relationships.

Her commitment is to work in the public trust, giving view and voice to people and issues that might otherwise be overlooked or misunderstood.

Denise is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and the Online News Association. She serves on the PhillyCam board of directors, the P.A.L. Communications committee and the King Day Kids.

Denise James Questionaire

What is a defining moment in your career and life? My time spent working at WGPR TV in Detroit, the nation’s first Black owned television station, was certainly a defining time in my career. Working there as a reporter, producer and talk show host gave me an opportunity to always include multiple voices in stories and conversations I covered and produced. The experience helped solidify my understanding that my voice at the journalistic table has value in the media landscape if people various communities are to be fully served by media outlets. My father offered critically defining moments in my life, encouraging my curiosity by always answering my barrage of seemingly never-ending questions. At a time when many friends were scolded for “questioning adults,” my father did not interpret my questions as disrespect, instead proudly heralding them as valuable tools along my pathway to knowledge.

What challenges have you faced as a woman of color in your field and how did you overcome them? As a woman of color in journalism, have experienced a range of things from institutional bias, to anger over my handling of stories and disparate treatment and compensation. Institutional bias was clear when, after working at the Black-owned TV station with my perfectly quaffed afro for 4 years, I could not secure an on-air position anywhere else until I put a chemical relaxer in my hair, damaging both my scalp and my spirit. To tackle anger, disparate treatment and compensation, I relied on communication and solid, impactful, inclusive work as the most effective tools in countering each. While I’ve seen the needle move on these issues over the years, I cannot characterize the outcomes as having overcome them as long as other women of color are still tackling these issues. And they are.

What woman inspires you and why? While there are many historic figures whose lives offer unparalleled inspiration, I am also inspired by women like Tarana Burke, Lorene Cary and long-time friends Charlene Horne, Kathy Wilson and Cherita Andrews. These women not only identify challenges that need to be addressed, they also use their skill, time, talent, resources and humanity to creatively craft impactful solutions to problems we face. They inspire me to shake of fatigue, fear, shame and anything else that could inhibit pursuit of my best self.

What is your advice to the younger generation of women coming after you? Know that you are enough and if you wonder whether you belong at the table, please know that your voice, vision and experience are needed there. I also suggest you not let fear stand between you and your destiny. It is certainly natural to experience fear. However, you can illuminate your path by allowing courage to be a light that eclipses the darkness of fear. You are what you need to be who you are destined to be.

What does being a part of the African Diaspora mean to you? Being a part of the African Diaspora means I am connected to an immense proud, creative, diverse community of peoples who are survivors and thrivers. Beyond connection, being part of the African Diaspora comes with a responsibility and opportunity to use communication and information to empower people. As an offspring of Caribbean grandparents, being part of the African Diaspora also means loving steel drums, calypso, peas & rice, oxtail and FunTimes Magazine.