The Central Arkansas Press mission
Without being deliberately provocative, please consider that a media outlet that caters to a specific ethnic group does not have to be regressive or racist, but conversely, progressive and a sign of the times.
One might agree that the Black community continues to be underserved by mainstream television, radio, newspaper, and digital media outlets despite the appearance of inclusion. Since we no longer live in a (legally) segregated society, some people might believe that the time has long since passed when separate Black media is necessary.
So why does UrbanMediaGroup (UMG) promote a segregated publication? In our opinion, we don’t.
We don’t need a separate, Black newspaper in the 21st century, but we deserve to have one. And therein lies the difference between past and present.
In 1827, the first Black-owned and operated newspaper was launched by a group of free Black men in New York, NY. It satisfied a very important need in the Black community and society at large. The mandate of the Freedom’s Journal was to counterbalance the character assassinations against Black people printed in the mainstream press and to serve as a public voice against slavery. As time went on, the Black press continued to be both activist and informant for a community that was routinely ignored and maligned by mainstream media.
Today, the role of the Black press isn’t so easily defined because mainstream media has become more inclusive
of Black issues.
However the needs of the community have expanding providing room on the media landscape for any number of media enterprises catering to Black people. If there can be magazines for craft beer brewers and urban chicken farmers, then there can be a newspaper for Black people who live in central Arkansas. We feel the same way about other ethnic groups having their own media products such as Hola! Arkansas and the ARKANSAS TIMES publishing El Latino to address the issues and concerns of the Hispanic community.
Not everyone shares our opinion in today’s difficult economy. Some might vehemently side with the idea that a separate Black press is no longer a "necessity." However, UMG believes it is vital and critical to have a specific outlet for the Black community. The mainstream media is still very separate and there are not a lot of opportunities [for Black people] to speak, be heard, find employment or share in media ownership.
The pathologies and the exceptions are covered well in the mainstream media, but everyday Black people are still marginalized. We still need [the Black press] to present Black people as normal or regular.
In order for the Black media to truly compete with mainstream media outlets, ownership is key. It takes money to have the ability to tell your own story. And until we create more economic freedom, it’s going to be very difficult to change the media landscape.
We are thoroughly convinced that Black media outlets are not only beneficial but crucial. The existing mainstream media still doesn't hire or can’t seem to find enough editors, reporters, writers, producers or on-air talent of color to truthfully and artfully tell the Black experience.
Still, we don’t want the Black press to simply be the antidote to a racist mainstream media. UMG wants to elevate journalism reflecting an organic expression of Black stories being told, Black artistic expression being celebrated, and issues that are important to Black people being examined and scrutinized, independent of the way mainstream media addresses those same concerns. In other words, a vibrant Black media and a more inclusive mainstream media should both be available to the public.
The two ideals are not mutually exclusive, nor should the failure of one be the raison d’etre of the other. Separate? Yes. Different? Sure. But absolutely equal.