Media

National Association of Black Journalists Should Help Create African-American News Network

Jemele Hill (right) and former ESPN president John Skipper at the Web Summit 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.
Photo by Stephen McCarthy / Wikimedia Commons
Jemele Hill (right) and former ESPN president John Skipper at the Web Summit 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.
Over the next four days, black journalists, media executives, and celebrities will take over the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Aventura for the annual National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair. The main topic of discussion should be about establishing our own news network that shows African-Americans who keep it real and tell the whole truth about the systemic racism that continues to oppress people of color.

The Hip-Hop News Network would provide a platform for journalists such as Jemele Hill and Roland Martin to provide their unfiltered news commentary in a way that the mainstream news organizations would never allow. It's important to have reporters and anchors who call out racists without batting an eye.

Hill, who recently announced a book deal, left ESPN a year ago after accurately calling Donald Trump a "white supremacist" and "the most ignorant, offensive president" of her lifetime. She was suspended for two weeks because she tweeted in favor of boycotting Dallas Cowboys advertisers because of owner Jerry Jones' threat to fire players who silently protested during the National Anthem. Now she's writing columns for The Atlantic and has her own podcast. But that's not enough to reach the people in the hood.

We need to purchase our own African-American sports network inspired by people like Hill so black reporters like Stephen A. Smith aren't the only voice for the African-American community.

The same goes for Martin, who is keeping black folks informed by running his own show on YouTube that has 340,577 subscribers. Every day, he interviews black activists and politicians who have their ears to the street and their fingers on the pulse of the African-American community. Martin should be on prime time. If CNN and MSNBC were really for the black agenda, they would turn journalists like Martin loose. Yet the corporate news networks don't have the guts to follow the Fox News formula that allows white supremacists such as Laura Ingram, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity to speak their minds about how immigrants and people of color are erasing America's heritage.

The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is fighting for more African-Americans and other minorities in leadership positions at large media companies. In March, NABJ and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) called for a civil rights audit of executive-level diversity at CNN after revealing the network had no black news executive producers, vice presidents, or senior vice presidents. Shortly thereafter, CNN promoted two African-Americans: Marcus Mabry to vice president of global programming for CNN Digital Worldwide and Johnita Due to senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer of the network's sports and news divisions.

Though it's great to place more black journalists in leadership positions, the people promoting them are still their white overlords who won't choose outspoken African-American reporters who can relate to regular black people, a majority of whom live below the poverty line. The white head honchos know the African-American community is divided into two camps: the people from the hood and the middle-class Oreos.

The networks will always select those college-educated blacks who have assimilated with white culture, like Symone Sanders, the former press secretary for Bernie Sanders who is now heading black voter outreach for Joe Biden. She and others like her do more to turn off the average African-American than the racist brigade at Fox News.

This year's NABJ convention theme is "Fight the Power," a salute to the powerful rage anthem by Public Enemy. If that's the goal, it's time to control our own narrative.