Opinion | Black Press Matters

Promises from White America “to do better” must include supporting Black media.
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The timing of this movement for racial equity and social justice is fortuitous. The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting Black businesses hard. Between February and April, 41% of Black-owned businesses are expected to permanently close nationwide. It shouldn’t have taken the death of an unarmed Black person to be the catalyst for change in 2020. There’s a need to address long-standing issues surrounding race in every sector of society, including news media. Black Press Matters. 

“It’s important that we stop thinking of ethnic media as a ‘nice to have,’ as something on the side. It’s a must-have,” QCity Metro’s founder and publisher, Glenn Burkins, stated at the Knight Foundation’s 2019 Media Forum in Miami.  

Black stories, told by Black reporters from independent Black news organizations, are undervalued, underutilized and underfunded. As one of the country’s first hyperlocal, digital-only Black news platforms, QCity Metro can speak from experience about the challenges. 

What we do is a labor of love. It was us who first questioned local leaders about why they weren’t addressing the disproportional rise of Covid-19 cases in the Black community. Black residents trust QCity Metro to share stories about how Charlotte’s gentrification impacts their businesses. We give perspectives that are often ignored. We amplify the diversity within the Black community and share nuances within the Black experience. 

I’ve seen several white individuals and companies make statements vowing to listen and be better. In an attempt to be solutions-oriented, I’m offering some ideas on how to make it right with the local Black press.

Media 

Mainstream media companies should own their share in the unfair coverage of and biases toward Black people. In the last couple of weeks, leadership at major news organizations including ABC News, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Condé Nast have resigned or been placed on administrative leave following the publication of racially insensitive content, participating in such activities, or creating toxic workplace environments.

Journalists ask strangers every day to believe their reporting. As a Black person, hearing about these incidents of racism involving members of news management teams makes me question the editorial decisions they oversee. It is challenging to trust a news source after these occurrences.   

Solution: Partner with trusted Black media outlets to elevate issues that affect the community they represent. QCity Metro has collaborated with news organizations, philanthropies and others that understand ongoing topics and current events often impact ethnic communities differently. More collaborations should occur to ensure that community voices are heard and stories shared.     

Consumers 

Since the protests started, tons of content related to Black businesses has been produced by local news outlets. I don’t see this much content from local outlets during Black History Month or Black Business Month, but I digress. I read comments thanking them for stories and asking for more. I also read comments criticizing those outlets for a lack of diverse content until now.

I understand the need to cover Black issues at this time. In a world where clicks, shares and views are attached to your worth, our job as journalists relies on being on top of the big story daily. With that said, Black people and our fight against racism is not a trending topic. It’s always been an issue. 

Solution: Stop asking media outlets to produce news on Black issues they aren’t focused on covering. Start supporting the ones that always have. A quick google search of “Charlotte Black news” provides options at the top of the page. If you want to read about Charlotte news specific to the Black community, there are a few trusted platforms that have been doing it for years, and with your support, will continue to do so for many more. I encourage you to become a QCity Metro Press Club Member, read and share our content, sign up for our newsletter and challenge your like-minded friends to do the same.    

Businesses

Black buying power in the United States exceeds $1 trillion. Between 2000 and 2018, Black buying power rose 114%, compared to an 89% increase in white buying power. Yet, advertisers spend significantly less on Black-focused media, and the numbers continue to decline. Black people account for 13% of the population but only receive 1.4% of targeted U.S. advertising and brand activation spending.

Solution: Advertise with us. We are a Black business that caters to the Black audience that many are trying to get in front of at this time. The business community should build authentic partnerships with Black-owned media companies. Include us in your marketing budgets as you plan for the new fiscal year, not as an afterthought if there are remaining funds. Here in Charlotte, more than one-third of city residents are Black. Our advertising support doesn’t reflect that. QCity Metro could not be here without sponsors and organizations that are dedicated to supporting Black media outlets. We are grateful to them. I would like to see others follow their lead.  

The real challenge

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.” – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Contrary to what you may believe, speaking out against racism and saying Black Lives Matter is not controversial. That is the easy thing to do right now. The real challenge for white people, businesses and leaders will be to join Black people to actively fight to remove the monuments of systemic racism that granted centuries of white privilege and supremacy, often to the detriment of Black people.

It’s time to rip off the old bandage and expose the deep wound of racism in America. It may hurt to properly disinfect it with equity and justice, but once it’s cleaned, we can finally heal.


Qcitymetro.com welcomes your voice on issues affecting the Charlotte community. Have an opinion about an issue? Email the editor. It might get published.

Kallan Louis
Kallan Louis is a writer and consultant for qcitymetro.com. He does a lot, but never feels like he’s doing enough. His life can be described as a Venn Diagram: News media, Black culture and sports. He’s always on TV, but rarely seen.

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