How do you feel about the news you consume? Do you see yourself reflected in the articles you read and the broadcasts you watch? Do you see your community and your concerns accurately represented?
How you answer may depend largely on race.
According to the Pew Research Center, “most Black Americans (63%) said news about Black people is generally more negative than news about other racial and ethnic groups.” And more than half (57%) said media outlets cover only certain segments of Black communities.
Those findings are especially relevant as QCity Metro celebrates its 15th birthday, because addressing such disparity was at the heart of my decision to launch this media platform in November 2008.
So, what have we accomplished in the last 15 years? I’ll let you, our readers, render the final judgment, but I do have some thoughts:
I’d like to think that QCity Metro has focused a dedicated spotlight on people, businesses and institutions that are often overlooked by other local newsrooms. Have we been perfect? No, far from it, but I’d wager that no other media organization in Charlotte has devoted similar resources to covering local Black communities, especially Historic West End.
We’ve written about black-owned businesses, black-led nonprofits, Black churches and Black newcomers to Charlotte. Our annual Great 28 list celebrates Black excellence, focusing on Black people who are working to make our city a better place to live, work and play.
Not all of our work has been deadly serious: Our QCity Brides feature is a celebration of Black love, and our Datin’ Charlotte feature is a celebration of…well, let me think on that. We’ve also launched a travel series that focuses on tourism destinations in North and South Carolina, especially those that welcome and celebrate diversity.
Now that the pandemic has slowed, we’re hosting more in-person events that cater to various segments of our Black audiences. Our Black Trivia Nights, held at a Black-owned brewery, attract a young crowd and have a perfect record for selling out. In October, we hosted our first Women Thrive Conference, where more than 80 Black women spent an entire day learning some of the skills they need to launch and grow their small businesses. We’ve co-sponsored community book reads, hosted pop-up stores for Black retailers, paid to distribute award-winning books about issues that impact our communities, and we’ve brought to town some noted authors.
Some of the work we do is less obvious. As one of the nation’s first digital-only platforms devoted to serving a local Black audience, QCity Metro is frequently invited to speak at national conferences and serve on journalism boards. Having a seat at the table is vital as the news industry continues to struggle and evolve.
Most dear to my heart, however, is the work we do training young, Black graduates for careers in media. If the nation’s news landscape is to improve, it will need more Black journalists with hearts (and skills) for covering local news, including Black communities.
So, where do we go from here?
In the coming days, I’ll return to talk more about a dream I’ve been given – a dream to create a Charlotte-based nonprofit dedicated to training young, Black media professionals.
As I start to ponder retirement and what’s left of my time on this planet, I find myself thinking more about how I might deploy my skills to build bridges for those who will come after me…just as others built the bridges I needed to succeed. I hope some of you will be led to join me in that effort.
Finally, a heartfelt thank you to all the readers, advertisers and donors who have helped make the last 15 years some of the most rewarding days of my life. Some of you have lifted my spirits with encouraging notes or on-the-street greetings; others have donated money to help fund our work.
Like newsrooms everywhere, QCity Metro needs reader support to grow and thrive. The money you give helps pay for reporters, photographers, editors, insurance, accountants, website hosting, staff training, technology, digital analytics, graphic designers, freelance writers and so much more.
Whether you make a one-time gift or a recurring donation, no amount is too small, and every dime you entrust to our care is spent in service to our mission – to provide news and content relevant to the Black communities in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.