My topic is the creation of news and current affairs websites started by individuals targeting African-Americans and others from the African diaspora. There is a dearth of online outlets that target African-Americans and the African diaspora. We do not have news websites that fully address our issues and engage us politically. Most of the websites target Caucasians and others Hispanics.
Moreover, advertisers don’t support Black media outlets the same as Caucasian and Hispanic outlets. I believe there is an underestimation of how many African-Americans use social media and the online buying power of this constituency.
Another obstacle that contributes to the dearth of Black media that targets African-Americans is that many African-American newspapers are in crisis and closing down leaving communities without local news specific to them. These publishers, more so than mainstream media, have not successfully figured out how to transition to digital and interactive technology, including social media to promote and market their publications.
The Democracy Fund report states, “As the Black press continues to move online, there should be more support for tools and training to maintain the digital presence of African-American media” (Ford, McFall, Dabney, 2019).
Studying this topic has made me realize there are a number of factors that attribute to the reason why African-Americans do not have many Black media outlets addressing our issues while being sustainable.
It is important for traditional Black publications and media entrepreneurs to fill the gap in news coverage for African-Americans to address and publicize the community’s issues, the same way as other racial and ethnic groups.
Black News, Opinions, Politics and Culture. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.theroot.com/
- Another website that wears the title of a “Black News, Opinions, Politics and Culture” website, but instead is all about popular culture. The Root acts as the black version of websites such as TMZ and Buzzfeed. True political news articles are scattered in a sea of celebrity conflict and “wardrobe malfunction” stories. This continues to show a dishardening false truth that the african american community does not care or wish to know about current affairs.
“Black Consumers and Social Media – US – May 2018” by Toya Mitchell an analyst for Mintel Reports. Retrieved from http://academic.mintel.com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/display/860453/
- In this report, Ms. Mitchell analyses the consumer patterns of African-Americans on social media. The report delves into how social media including websites support African-American issues and is used to engage and mobilize that respective community. African-Americans use social media to connect to family and friends, and the pan-African diaspora. According to the report it reviews the following:
- Brand communication that is integrated in Black users’ social media experience may be noticed, supported, and lead to consumer action.
- Black adults visit on average 3.6 social media sites
- Black consumers have diverse online connections who share their interests
- Black adults visit social media sites all day long
- Brands entertain, but don’t connect with Black consumers
What is clear to me from the report is that the buying, the consuming power of the African-American market is severely underestimated. It is a niche with many opportunities.
Blavity. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://blavity.com/
- The Blavity is a website that was created by Millennials for Millennials. The company’s name, a combination of “black” and “gravity” was initially constructed to unite and support african-americans, allowing them to take a stand and make changes to this world all the while working towards projects that were important to the individuals. This website has strayed from its original purpose by becoming an entertainment website and publishing articles that do not provoke the reader, but instead satiate their hunger for meaningless stimulation. Although authors have published articles discussing activist groups across the country demanding changes for local issues, the website is littered with more articles covering celebrity interactions and awe-inducing stories that disillusion the readers into a change that is never going to come.
Breaking News, Latest News, Opinion, Analysis and Video. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://theGrio.com
- Rather than having politics and injustice addressed head on, this website reels in readers with clickbait media stories and advertises harder hitting stories on the side. This works as further evidence that there is a lack of websites that purely discussing current affairs with the African American community. Commissioned as a part of the NBC news company, it never rose to the likes of its competitors such as Politico and CNN, and has deterred from the path to become a website that covers pop culture rather than controversial topics that would ignite fury and anger in the readers. Serious issues being faced by the African-American community are glossed over for stories about their Caucasian and Hispanic counterparts or for local stories that lack substance. Also, the black news website was bought by the hispanic company, Univision. This means that the content provided is created by the people its directed towards.
Emmanuel K. Ngwainmbi. (2005). The Black Media Entrepreneur and Economic Implications for the 21st Century. Journal of Black Studies, 36(1), 3. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.40027319&site=eds-live&scope=site
- This journal article confirms how difficult it is for African-American entrepreneurs to compete with White owned media companies that have access to capital.
- The article states “According to Wilson(2001) and Barber and Tait (2001), the Black entrepreneurs did not have adequate ownership and control of the broadcast media in the 1990s, despite the 1996 Telecommunication Act that had mandated inclusiveness in the implementation, practice, application, and marketability of communication products and services and communication as business.”
- Although the above fore-mentioned observations are from almost 20 years ago, the same situation still applies today for African-Americans and media ownership in the age of social media.
Ford, A., McFall, K., & Dabney, B. (2019, February). African American Media Today. Retrieved from https://www.democracyfund.org/publications/african-american-media-today
News One. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://newsone.com/
- This website is one of the few that “stir the pot”. Rather than sugar coat the ill and chaotic reality that we live in with fashion and television, it addresses conflicts and oppression that targets the black community across the world. Though no website is without entertainment stories, the creators seem to have not lost their motivation in spreading the news that affects the african american community. In terms of a media web page layout, the order of their tabs show the importance of content as it starts with Nation and Politics as the first tabs continuing on into Biz/Media and circling back to Crime.
Thabiti Asukile. (2010). JOEL AUGUSTUS ROGERS: BLACK INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISM, ARCHIVAL RESEARCH, AND BLACK PRINT CULTURE. The Journal of African American History, 95(3-4), 322-347. doi:10.5323/jafriamerhist.95.3-4.0322
- Spending his life as an historian and journalist with a drive to cover African American diaspora, Joel Augustus Rogers worked to collect data for african american communities that would provide explaination for the discrimination experienced by his people. His work supported a historical movement that questioned the difference between the popularized version of black history as compared to white history. In doing so, he wrote articles and journals as well as contributed his research to furthering and inspiring newspapers and journalists to continue to cater to their people as opposed to the masses.
Vercellotti, T., & Brewer, P. (2006). “To Plead Our Own Cause”: Public Opinion Toward Black and Mainstream News Media among African Americans. Journal of Black Studies, 37(2), 231-250. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40034412
- To counter the negativity directed and experienced by the African American community, news and media platforms created by the community aim to lighten the pessimism by distracting their audience with stories of less gravitas. The article discusses the difference between mainstream and black media and the estrangement effect they have on the outcasted community.