All Articles Tagged "african american media"

How Traditional Black Media Can Support Tech Aspirations

August 15th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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One of reasons cited for why African Americans choose not to pursue a career in technology is that they rarely see people who look like them involved in computing. I can certainly identify with the research. In a career that spans 25 years as a software engineer, I can count on one hand the number of African Americans I have worked with during that time.

While it is true that African Americans are severely under represented in computing, there are role models in technology that can help our young people to identify with these fields. The African American community must do a better job of not only showing our young people current role models, but we must also do better at informing our young people that Africans as well as African Americans have played a role in the evolution of the computing industry. This is key to closing the digital divide, and traditional Black media can play a significant role in bringing this information to our communities.

As a black man who believes in supporting Black-owned businesses I have patronized all forms of traditional Black media most of my adult life to include networks such as BET and TVOne, print magazines such as Ebony and Essence, as well as local, national, and satellite radio. With the exception of XM Radio’s The Mario Armstrong Show, which focuses on helping folks to embrace a digital lifestyle, and Black Enterprise magazine there is scant mention of the of technology and its importance in the lives of African Americans.

I do not believe in complaining about a problem, I believe in taking action. I wrote to newspapers as well as magazines and suggested that space be allocated to provide this critical information to the black community. I offered to provide the information free of charge as a service to the community and I made the case that at this point in our history, making sure our people embrace technology as we move forward in the 21st century is CRUCIAL to our survival – of this, there is no doubt.

Most of the organizations that I wrote simply did not respond. A few others responded with a “thanks, but no thanks”, and a couple offered me the opportunity to bridge the gap. This is simply not good enough. What is the reason for the resistance? How do we expect our young people to view technology as important if we are not discussing it in our media? Why do most of these outlets not consider the topic of technology just as important as finance, spirituality, or health?

Most often when there is a mention of technology in Black media it is coming from a consumer perspective. National publications may make mention of a great new iPhone app that you can purchase, but there is no mention of the 2 sisters at Spelman College who won the AT&T sponsored mobile application development competition or that Morehouse College hosted a National Business Plan competition that was focused on students submitting smart phone application ideas. And even when they were mentioned in a few outlets, there is not another such story for weeks or months. We need a steady diet.

Those 2 sisters and the young men who participated in the competition at Morehouse could provide wonderful role models for our youth. We have the role models, what is lacking is the distribution of this information to our communities. What is lacking is the coverage of these technology-centric stories. Who better to fill this void than our beloved traditional black media.

 Kai Dupé is a doctoral student at Pepperdine University where he is conducting research on Why African American Males Are Underrepresented in Computing. Kai can be reached by email at or by visiting his website at

HuffPost’s Black Appeal

August 12th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(NPR) — The website launched last week and strives to unite the black community while spreading their experiences far and wide. Its news stories and blogs are mainly written and edited by African-American themselves. Guest host Allison Keyes speaks with HuffPost BlackVoices’ heads Sheila Johnson, Rebecca Carroll and Christina Norman about the new platform.

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Adding Color to the Ad World

August 11th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(News One) — Four years ago, Dallas native Lincoln Stephens and his roommate Jeffrey Tate were sitting in their Chicago condo when they came up with an idea to change the face of one of the least integrated industries in American society.  What arose from that conversation was an idea to develop a network of Black males that were in advertising or marketing to collectively mentor the next generation.  “We thought to ourselves that we could be change agents and immediately got to work,” said Stephens.  Fast forward four years later — and not only has the idea expanded to include all ethnic minorities of both genders —but there are now 17 other men and women listed as founders of the organization. And they are all part of the advertising and media worlds — and all volunteers.

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Are You Ready For Tyler TV?

August 10th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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The struggle of OWN to gain a foothold in the cable landscape hasn’t detterred Oprah’s BFF Tyler Perry.

The New York Times reports that Perry and his longtime distributor, Lionsgate, are working on a new cable channel venture called Tyler TV.

It’s difficult to break into cable but Perry, thus far, has had no big failures so can we blame him for trying? His loyal audience of African-American women have helped him become one of the most successful men in Hollywood. His movies and his TBS shows “Meet he Browns” and House of Payne” have all been successful by industry standards. His catalogue of movies have grossed more than $522 million in tickets.

According to the New York Times, Lionsgate and Perry are considering three options for their cable distribution. One route would be to take over TV GUide Network, as Lionsgate already owns half of that channel; another would involve buying and rebranding the gospel channel. The third option is vague but involves working with Comcast, which has promised government officials that it would provide more minority programming as part of its merger deal.


Moguldom Media Group Premieres Original Video Series on

August 9th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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“She’s the Boss” Web Series Offers Candid Insights and Experiences of Leading African-American Women Entrepreneurs and Executives

August 9, 2011 – New York, NY – Moguldom Media Group, the leading digital media company that develops premium online publishing brands serving African-American audiences, has extended its fast-growing brand into online video with the premiere of “She’s the Boss”, an original webseries. Produced in conjunction with Moguldom Studios and sponsored by the General Mills Feeding Dreams program, “She’s the Boss” features an intimate view of the day-to-day activities of leading African-American businesswomen. Behind-the-scenes glimpses, advice, and interviews will inspire viewers of both genders across Moguldom’s audience of three million—and hold particular interest for the women who make up’s core fans.

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Huffington Post Launches Black Platform

August 9th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Huffington Post) — Today the National Association of Black Journalists is meeting for its annual convention in Philadelphia (I’ll be speaking there this morning, after Eric Holder and a taped message from President Obama). In a nice moment of synchronicity, today is also the launch of our newest section, one that I’m particularly excited about: HuffPost BlackVoices.  Surveying the current national and international landscape, I often feel that we are living in a split-screen world. And depending on what part of the screen you are looking at, you will have a very different perception of where things stand — it alters everything you think about the present, and dramatically affects your view of the future.  And nowhere is this split-screen reality more pronounced than in the African-American community.  On one side, it’s a bleak picture: we see the African-American community besieged by crushing unemployment, rampant foreclosures, widening income and wealth disparity, and a disproportionate number of men in jail.

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Do We Need Black Owned Media?

August 8th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AdAge) — There are definite advantages to publishing a magazine aimed at a black audience.  That’s the opinion of Earl G. Graves Sr., the founder and publisher of Black Enterprise and one of this year’s inductees into the Advertising Hall of Fame.  “Because there’s such a paucity of African-American magazines that are out there, I don’t think we are going to have the diminution that some of our fellow publishers might have,” Mr. Graves told me in a video interview. There’s Ebony and Jet, Black Enterprises and Essence (no longer African-American-owned).  “And so there’s a paucity of publications that are really first class that are reaching an audience more and more hungry for information.” But, he added, that audience wasn’t always appreciated.

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Al Sharpton, The New Media Darling?

August 3rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"charing ball"I’ve been thinking a lot about Al Sharpton lately.

As we are all aware by now, Sharpton has been pegged to host his own show on MSNBC, making him the first African American to host a primetime cable show in the station’s short-lived history. While the decision is still up in the air, it does look good for the 57-year old permed-activist and former tour manager for James Brown.

Not everyone is happy about his appointment and much has been said about whether or not Sharpton is qualified to host a show, especially considering that there are hundreds or more black journalists with loads of experience striving for a chance to showcase their talents  on a national platform. And personally, I have to admit that the couple of times I’d caught him on air, he did seem rather stiff and tempered compared to the fiery orator we once knew him as.

But the bigger question for me is: how does the man, who has been the whipping boy for the mainstream media for years  become a media darling all of a sudden?

I can honestly say that when it comes to Sharpton, I have a take it or leave it ambivalence to the good Reverend. Sure, sometimes (most times) he comes off a little less than sketchy but occasionally he manages to do or say something rather noble, which kind of makes up for his overall cringe factor.  And I’m willing to bet that many in the Black community feel the same way.  But let’s be real here, there is nobody White America and the press loves to hate more than Al Sharpton. Matter of fact, if I had to make a top five list of the most hated black men in America it would go like this: 5). O.J Simpson; 4). Jesse Jackson; 3). Rev. Louis Farrakan; 2. Al Sharpton; and 1). Barak Obama.  And Obama is in top spot over Sharpton only because he is a Black President.

Much of that hatred seems to harken back to the Tawana Brawley incident, a 24-year-old sexual assault case in which it was alleged that 15-year-old Brawley lied about being attacked by several white boys.  Sharpton, who was one of her fiercest defenders, still stands by his decision to support Brawley at the time and believes that he does not have to apologize for believing what he believed to be true.  Yet in the eyes of the mainstream media, who can’t help to bring up the incident every time Sharpton’s mug appears anywhere on television, Sharpton will never live down his support of Brawley.  So either mainstream media has a developed a short-term memory or has finally decided to give Sharpton another chance.  I doubt that either is the case.

In some ways, Sharpton is not the same Sharpton as old. He traded his tracksuits for three-piece suits, lose a bunch of weight and although he has kept the trademark perm, it is a little more slicked back and less Farrah Fawcett than before.  But the change appears to be nothing more than aesthetic. While he is no longer fighting Klansmen on daytime television and calling people “punk fag*ot,” the new Sharpton has taken up a new enemy in the Tea Party, which he pounds on daily with little regard to subject or validity of claim.  To this day, he stands by the Brawley story and all the fiery rhetoric that came out of it. He has become not only a loyal defender of the President but has made it clear that he will never criticize him under any circumstances. What we see in Sharpton now is a man, who appears to be more aware of his image, how the media and its wants and is willing to play it to his benefit.

Moreover, this sort of newly-polished version of the same old Sharpton seems to fit well into the MSNBC stated goals, in which the so-called progressive news station is trying to chip away at the ratings dominance of Fox News by being just as incendiary in its own way.  Sharpton will add to MSNBC what he has always been to the mainstream media; a big ratings boost because who will not tune in to watch Sharpton and Pat Buchannan fight like two drunk uncles at the family Barbeque?

But you do have to wonder how much of a leash will Sharpton be able to wrangle away from his new handlers? Much of what we see on television is in executive suites before it is spoon-fed to an awaiting American public.  Sharpton, just being Sharpton, is bound to slip up, ignore the teleprompter, and say something that will not reflect well on MSNBC in any context.

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

Has The Market Improved For Black Actresses?

August 3rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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by R. Asmerom

In 2005, Alison Samuels penned an article in Newsweek questioning the market for Black actresses. At the time, the movie Hitch starring Will Smith and Latina actress Eva Mendes, playing his love interest, had already hit theaters and made a killing at the box office. The question then hovering in Hollywood was if Black actresses weren’t “good enough” to play the counterparts to Black men, did they even have a future in Hollywood?

Since that time, Tyler Perry has come along, love it or hate it, providing much needed jobs to Black actresses, and another interesting phenomenon has emerged: that of the Black BFF. The Los Angeles Times picked up on the very visible trend in 2007 after many leading white actresses were paired with a Black best friend in feature films.

While the NAACP and the African-American creative community continues to lament the dearth of roles for Blacks in Hollywood, one thing is consistent and that is that Hollywood won’t prioritize diversity over their quest to perfect the money making formula.

“ I think at the end of the day, studios aren’t concerned about black and white, they are concerned about the color green,” said Janora McDuffie, an African-American actress who is currently making guest appearances on Grey’s Anatomy.

There’s no clear progress when it comes to assessing how far Black actresses have come in the past five to ten years. Although Halle Berry won the Academy Award for best actress in 2001, and others like Taraji P. Henson and Jennifer Hudson have won it since then, no Black talent was nominated for the 2011 Academy Awards.

And much of the same names that were popular then are still popular now. Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan, Zoe Saldana, Paula Patton Jennifer Hudson and of course, Halle Berry are still booking the few gigs today. “It’s improved for the sisters in the game with a name but what about the opportunities for the newcomer,” asked McDuffie. “White ingénues you’ve never heard of pop up every other month but where are those same break-out opportunities for women of color?”

Despite Promises Comcast-NBCU Merger Lacks Minority Representation

August 3rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Reuters) — When Comcast was angling to take over NBCU, the cable giant promised prominently to increase the profile of minorities at the company and launch eight independent cable networks, including four under African-American control.  But a Who’s Who of African American media figures and civil rights leaders are frustrated that Comcast doesn’t seem to be moving fast enough, if at all. That includes a recent disastrous meeting between Comcast executives and Oprah Winfrey, in which Comcast executives rebuffed the media queen’s request for support for her OWN network.  Leading entrepreneur Russell Simmons was rebuffed when he approached NBCU CEO Steve Burke about acquiring the Style network.  The National Urban League, NAACP and Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, major civil rights groups, see several trouble spots with their efforts to work with Comcast, TheWrap has learned.

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