Black Media as a Community Resource Event Recap
Oct 08, 2020 01:02PM
By Nana Ama Addo
Asking pertinent questions, illuminating issues and searching for answers to uncover solutions are forces that drive the function of journalism and the roles of journalists. Historically, Black journalists have been forced to waltz across societal nuances and tapdance around certain discussions to maintain their careers. As racism becomes more appalling to the public eye and the international veil once again lifts on the reality of injustice in America, Black journalists continue strategically pushing the boundaries that exist, giving themselves the power to better craft stories to catalyze and connect positive change.
Haitian-American journalist Yamiche Alcindor, the White House Correspondent at PBS Newshour, personifies this valiance through her work. On October 1st, at our bimonthly ‘FunTimes Friday’ event, with the theme ‘Black Professional Discussion: Black Media as a Community Resource,’ audiences watched as Yamiche asked Donald Trump pertinent questions at different press conferences, facing resistance but never backing down.
As this event explored strategies for communities to expand their reach through partnering with Black media, Yamiche’s example summarized the tension Black journalists in mainstream media can encounter and the persistence they embody as agents of change. Host Jennifer Toland and panelists Cherri Gregg (Community Affairs Reporter at KYW Newsradio and Host of Flashpoint with Cherri Gregg), Jenice Armstrong (Metro Columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer) and Dr. Kenneth Scott (President/CEO of Beech Companies) subsequently led an insightful discussion on the state of Black journalism, ways forward and tips on how to leverage Black media to spark change.
In response to Yamiche’s video, Jenice said “There should be more people standing up and doing that besides Yamiche...there's not enough of us there.” Jenice also said backlash comes with the territory. For example, when Jenice publishes columns on police brutality or other forms of injustice, she receives a multitude of disgruntled responses from readers.
Cherri, who did live broadcasting during the George Floyd riots this year, highlighted the importance of giving a voice to the voiceless: “We bear witness while Black. One of the reasons why they hired myself, Jenice and more is because we see things a little bit differently...I’m going to talk to Tyrone on the corner and Keyshia too. I will get different perspectives. They will talk to me. That's why you need a diverse newsroom. The newsroom should have troops and soldiers.”
Dr. Kenneth Scott informed audiences that his business, Beech Companies, provides financial resources to Black publications as well as technical assistance, and collaborates with public foundation companies. He cited Scoop USA Media as a North Philly publication that Beech Companies partners with to create awareness about community resources. Using the power of media, Beech Companies has been able to partner with governmental stakeholders to allot grants instead of loans to COVID-19-affected businesses. In the most recent grant round, approximately $100 Million in COVID relief funds was allotted to Philadelphia businesses.
Each panelist gave valuable advice for small businesses who are looking to partner with companies like KYW Newsradio, The Philly Inquirer and Beech Companies. Cherri stressed the importance of knowing that news is “something happening now,” and encouraged communities to tie their story into something current, whether they are pitching a story or launching a campaign.
As journalists have varying specialties, Cherri also pushed business owners to get to know different journalists at diverse locations, learn what type of stories they tell and tailor a business story to the appropriate niche. It can also be helpful, she said, to create a media advisory team or a press release and send it to journalists in advance, as well as creating a media plan and launch for programs, events and so forth.
Cherri has discovered that It is important to find people where they are. She took advantage of this opportunity during COVID, when she began going on FB Live to speak to communities who thought Black people were not susceptible to COVID-19.
Jenice encouraged business owners to become good consumers of news, and to send messages and pitch ideas on social media. She also said it may be worthwhile to hire a small PR firm or person to write pitches, as this service is not as expensive as one may think, and suggested placing advertisements in publications.
FunTimes salutes those in the Black journalism sector who are creating better realities and envisioning greater futures for the world, including Jenice, Cherri and Yamiche, and helpers like Dr. Kenneth. We thank everyone who contributed to making this event a success, and we hope you will connect with these agents of change to fuel fires of progress. Connect with Jenice on Instagram @JeniceArmstrongInquirer, on Twitter at @JeniceArmstrong or via email at [email protected]. You can find Dr. Kenneth’s company, Beech Companies, at www.BeechCompanies.com. Connect with Cherri on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @CherriGregg, or via email at [email protected].