Is The Creation of HuffPost Global Black Necessary?

January 26, 2011  |  

Arianna Huffington and BET co-founder Sheila Johnson recently announced that they will be partnering to launch a new website section on Huffington Post that will be called, “HuffPost Global Black.”  This new section, which will likely launch in March, will purportedly “focus on current events and cultural trends from a black perspective from across the globe—from politics and economics to music and sports—and will feature content ranging from dynamic storytelling to investigative reporting.”

Since the abovementioned news was promulgated, there has been a vast range of opinions marked with strong dichotomy.  Some critics wholeheartedly believe that African-Americans are getting a “separate water fountain” from the elitist left.  Conversely, there are certain commentators who think that the strategic partnership is necessary because stories of importance to the black community need more exposure.   Who is right in their assessment?

Is the proposed HuffPost Global Black merely a sign of liberal condescension and arrogance?  Is the very nature of this venture somehow racist in scope?  Also, is this new website section really necessary, when there are already a plethora of good African-American websites and media outlets that already cover current events, cultural trends, politics and other important topics from a black global perspective?

First, in examining the opinions of the critics of the proposed HuffPost Global Black, are African-Americans truly getting “back of the bus” treatment from affluent progressives on the HuffPost staff?  Without prevarication, HuffPost is arguably the nation’s leading news website and content blog from a liberal perspective.  With over 3,000 bloggers including a large host of celebrities covering a diverse array of subjects such as politics, media, business, entertainment, living, comedy, green issues and style, HuffPost does have a significantly large following with over one million comments made each month.  One would reason that within this robust framework that commentaries presented on HuffPost would already present a wide range of ethnic perspectives and implications on the aforementioned topics.  Thus, there would not be a need for a separate black or Hispanic-focused section—which also will be released later this year—on HuffPost.  Unfortunately, upon thorough analysis, one will find that most of the coverage on the site does not embody how particular issues will affect different ethnic groups both here and abroad.  Is this necessarily racist in context?  Absolutely not.  In the scope of continual improvement, the proposition of HuffPost Global Black could plausibly be seen as HuffPost’s recognition of this fact and its effort to finally diversify their writing staff, ultimately bringing forth those forgotten voices and perspectives.

Second, in canvassing the views of the proponents of the proposed web section, is HuffPost Global Black necessary for ensuring that stories of importance to the black community get more exposure?  To date, there are a myriad of African-American news websites and content blogs (i.e., The Atlanta Post, The Grio, The Root, The Loop 21, AOL Black Voices, Jack and Jill Politics, Black America Web, etc.) that do present the untold stories that affect blacks globally, which the mainstream media outlets very frequently fail to cover.  Oftentimes, because these exemplary black media sites are viewed as anti-white spaces of journalism, a fair amount of commentaries continue to remain unheard.  Theoretically, one would hope that HuffPost Global Black will be complementary to black media outlets in working hard to shed light on the truth and facts—even when it is unpleasant and unpopular—as it relates to blacks on a global basis.

On the whole, I am optimistic that this venture will be value-adding and beneficial to readers across the board and that HuffPost will do its best to ensure that perspectives from a plethora of ethnic groups are represented.  If HuffPost Global Black only perpetuates stereotypes and solely focuses on crime, entertainment and celebrity news instead of broader evergreen interests (i.e., politics, economics, personal finance, family, health issues, environmental and labor issues, etc.), then it would be safe to state that this strategic partnership was a waste of effort and time.

Anthony Jerrod is a bestselling author, speaker, and public policy expert.

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