Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Black Press Wakes Up With Barack Obama's Election But Still Does A Half-Assed Job Of Covering The News

This is an interesting article on the day late and a dollar short awakening of the mainstream black press to politics since Barack Obama was elected President. Apparently, all the black press is falling all over themselves to get prepared for covering Obama's presidency. While I applaud the efforts they are currently making, the black press corps of Essence, Jet, Ebony, The Tavis Smiley Show, BET, TV ONE, Black talk radio shows and others could and should be doing so much more.

The black press corp should not have needed the election of a black President to inspire them to cover White House politics or political issues that had a direct affect on Black America. This was a job that they should have been doing all along. The black mainstream press has spent years doing nothing but covering the superficial about black folks instead of digging into depths of black folks lives. They sold the glitz and gloss of black folks lives and the majority of us bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

All of these groups with the exception of Tavis Smiley have failed to ask any tough questions about Obama's election, his policies, or any current sitting black politicians for that matter. Even Tavis Smiley tucked tail and ran when black folks objected to his questioning of Barack Obama. Real journalists don't quit because their audience gets pissed at the questions they raise, that's a journalist's job, to piss folks off. Instead of challenging black folks to deal with conflicting opinions and criticisms, Smiley just reinforced that concept that all black folks must think alike and agree.

All of these groups have failed to truly embrace or promote black bloggers unless they could pimp black bloggers for their own reasons that had little to do with sharing political news with the black community. When black bloggers who are non-journalists are waxing the ass of the professional black media in terms of social, cultural, and political commentary and criticism, it's time to start asking some serious questions about your effectiveness.

Can anyone recall one black mainstream press agency asking for former Representative William "90 grand in my freezer" Jefferson to resign? The mainstream white press sure did. Did anyone recall one black mainstream press agency making suggestions or speculations about black folks who should or could have filled positions in Barack Obama's cabinet? The mainstream white press sure asked about white folks for cabinet positions.

What black person does not remember seeing the horrific pictures of Emmet Till in Jet magazine? What happened to the days when the black press used to BREAK the news? Black folks have fallen into the habit of being behind the curve instead of working to get ahead of it. It's great that these groups are going to do White House coverage, but instead of having years of experience they should have already had, they will be learning on the job.

And this situation is also on the black community. We should be expecting and demanding more from the black mainstream press. It's high time regular black folks stop being so damn lazy and disinterested. White folks read their trash (TMZ, Perez Hilton, People, Star), but they also EQUALLY keep up with the hardcore news (The New York Times, The Nation, Huffington Post, The Wall St. Journal). Black folks need to decide, because when times get really hard next year, do you want to read and hear about real solutions for real people or do you what to read and hear about the next Tyler Perry movie you won't be able to afford to go see!

9 comments:

Citizen Ojo January 4, 2009 at 2:22 AM  

Prof Tracey,

You have once again hit the nail on the head. Black folks have fallen asleep at the wheel. One of our biggest issues is not supporting the news. Back when BET had a shred of dignity they had a news roundtable on sundays. It went the way of the dodo bird. Black media needs to report "real" news and we need to support them when they report "real" news.

CurvyGurl January 4, 2009 at 9:16 AM  

You know...I kinda forgot there are black news publications outside of the typical rags (Essence, etc.). Excellent post. This puts an exclamation point on the dire need for us to get our butts in gear...on yet another issue. When we learn?

tasha212 January 4, 2009 at 10:25 AM  

I believe that the mainstream black press needs a total overhaul. In general, they are useless these gays. If it's not celebrity news and gossip, or just downright foolishness, then for some reason, they don't feel that it needs to be covered. I think that some of us online budding journalists ought to start magazines and tv shows and give them a run for their money.

Naima January 4, 2009 at 3:42 PM  

The problem is that they aren't journalist but commentators. They are only responsible for reporting the "black" point of view and what Beyonce and Jay Z are doing. Look how CNN used Roland Martin and then ended up giving DL Hughley a show.
Many don't want to ruffle anyones feathers b/c they want to be invited to all the CBC chicken dinners and that's why they will never investigate anything going on with black politics. They need access for all their fluff stories. Many are truly a waste of space and the affirmative action spot they took up in the Ivy Leagues.
Many black newspapers need to drop the paper and get online. The black newspaper in my city comes out once a week and in this day and age that is not going to cut it. I used to buy it to support b/c its not a bad paper, but reporting old news (especially in the internet age) and not a fresh perspective is not cutting it for me anymore.
The problem with many in our community is that some actually believe watching that 24 hour news trash is actually being informed.

Gena January 4, 2009 at 4:23 PM  

Do we even have a "black press" anymore? I have to make an effort to find a black newspaper. I can't remember the last time I went out of my way to find one. They left me long ago.

When I pick one up it usually contains advertorial content. Now I do understand, they need money to print and survive. Recipes from multinational companies like Nestle, liquor ads and the ever present "Financial Advisers" abound with minimal content from the NNPA.

But what are they surviving for? When all that mortgage mess was going on affecting members of the community I did not see articles about the realities of home ownership. I did see advertorials (not always labeled as such) encouraging people how to get their new home asap.

I was raised on true black newspapers that contained news and information about the community as well as our connection to the world beyond the block. I haven't seen one of those in years.

I bought an Ebony and Essence the first time in 8 years because of Obama was on the cover. It might be another 8 years before I buy another issue, nothing had changed.

I'm sticking with the diversity of black bloggers/vloggers who are truly trying to carry forth the tradition of reporting, editorial perspectives and documentation.

ActsofFaithBlog January 5, 2009 at 4:47 AM  

There are still smaller local press doing the news, like in my area we have the SF Bayview and in my mom's the Challenger. But you are right everyone has dropped the ball. This is part of the lack of strategizing and squandering our political currency. The NAJB has reported a 20% decrease in Black journalists in 2008. Where was the outrage over the Meet the Press gig and why isn't there a Black nightly news anchor? I've been talking about this on my blog for months and a lot of people think that reading blogs is enough. So many bloggers should have national columns or be on cable news. Things have gotten worse in many aspects.

Divalocity January 5, 2009 at 4:49 PM  

The "main scream" media misses the mark daily. That is one reason why I can't stand it! The media works for Big Business and the reporting of the truth is not even in the programming.

There is so much going on in the world and every night they miss the mark. They constantly feed garbage to the masses because we have people who believe every word they say. They have the ability to evoke change in all forms of life and yet the actually refuse to do so.

Anything that can have an adverse effect to change the political and social climate in this world is ignored. Out of sight and out of mind, if the viewer does not see it they don't have the ability to change anything.

Bloggers need to bring to their readers the truth and what's really going on in the world. Everything the American press reports is censored because they know only a few people will do any real research to get the truth out there.

They flood the airways with lies and propaganda and people actually believe it. The black owned media's role now is solely for entertainment and nothing else.

We have a culture that wants to be entertained they don't want to hear the truth when it pertains to anything especially when it pertains to us.

The black media becomes aroused only when there is an incident of white on black incidents, continually lacking the courage to inform and engage the black communities of the atrocities and ground warfare that is happening in our own communities.

It all boils down to dollars with them, everyone wants to be a celebrity and not a catalyst for change. If they do decide to take a stand for anything it's only for personal reasons and for fleeting moments of fame. Shock and awe is their game and it's all about getting ratings and nothing else.

The mainstream media reads these blogs because bloggers write about what everyone else is afraid to write about or what's politically correct.

You want to read about real news and not the hype and lies they promote as news then here you are:

http://www.projectcensored.org/censorship/news-sources/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/

Sassy J January 6, 2009 at 8:08 PM  

I would pick up a SF Bayview when I would be in the city or over in Oakland. Sadly, I could barely get past the first page for the typing, grammar, and jargon that ran throughout the paper. I think that this is the downside of black publications.

I agree with Gena in that I'm disgusted that as I start reading an interesting article, I have to flip through 10 pages of advertisements! I so appreciate you, Professor Tracy, and the other bloggers in the blogosphere; I feel this is where I get the real news...and people talking about it.

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