Earlier this week, just as I tuned into WURD 900am (black talk radio), I heard host Charles Ellison excited to report the resignation of Baltimore’s Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, a black lady. The reason for his excitement was not that a black politician was going down, it was because Mayor Pugh made the announcement to The AFRO, Baltimore/Washington’s black newspaper – the one I look to for inspiration.
Ellison went on to mention how rare it is for black outlets to get the scoop first from black newsmakers who usually break stories to the mainstream press on almost every occasion. For some reason it seems to bring them validation that the ‘big’ papers get the story out, leaving the usually smaller and less resourced black press picking up the crumbs.
When I read the exclusive on the Mayor’s resignation on AFRO.com, I learned the resignation announcement wasn’t typical. It occurred during a prayer vigil held in support of Mayor Pugh that the publisher of the AFRO, who is also an ordained minister, was invited to lead. While there, in conversation, Mayor Pugh shared with the publisher/pastor her intent to resign.
After reading that account, I got as giddy as Charles Ellison. That’s exactly how those of us in community journalism, especially black, would love to get our scoops from the community. We don’t need fancy press releases (which we rarely get any way) to show up at an event. Just a phone call or a nudge and if we’re available, we’ll be there to put our community in the best light.
I emphasize the best LIGHT, because the Daily Times is throwing a lot of SHADE in their coverage of ‘The 100 Men, Women & Children March,’ intentionally or not. At least that’s how I read it because my coverage would have been much different.
- For example, in the 2nd sentence they let you know only 30 people showed up for the 100 Man Walk. That’s shade.
- They must have followed the march and remarked that the march did not grow in numbers…That’s shade.
- They captured comments that the community is complacent and didn’t come out because there has been a drop in murders, and there’s expected to be marches every 3 or 4 months where they hope the number of marchers will be bigger. Is that because the number of murders would have grown by then? That’s shade.
Somehow, the Delaware County Daily Times knew this march was going to take place. They probably received a fancy press release. They were probably asked to cover it. They don’t have enough reporters but they thought it was important enough to hire a freelancer to get the write up.
The sad part is many are so happy to have their story in the Daily Times, they are blinded by the shade.
As much as the write up was full of shade, it was also full of facts. When mainstream press states facts, it’s cool. When independent local press state facts, it’s hate.
To Charles Ellison’s point, thankfully there are still some black folks who value the black press.
This quote from The AFRO sums it all up what I try to do around here…
AFRO Publisher and CEO the Rev. Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper said the AFRO’s presence yesterday (at Pugh’s home) was about more than scooping the news, but about being true to the role and responsibility of the Black press and its coverage of Black leaders, Black people, and the Black experience in general.
From where Draper sits, the AFRO represents a diverse constituency of Black folk in Baltimore, and is partly responsible for providing a platform for courageous community conversations about what it will take to lift our city, and her residents, out of the culture of corruption and disorder. It is from this perspective, Draper says, the publication as an institution is not interested in joining the media “pile on;” Baltimore is too fragile for that right now.