Tag Archives: journalism

Black News Channel’s Chairman J.C. Watts Discusses BNC’s Deep HBCU Ties & FAMU Partnership


In a recent interview with Bold TV, Chairman of Black News Channel, J.C. Watts, discusses his plans for the coming launch of the new television channel that seeks to focus on a myriad of topics from culture, religion, politics, economics, and more that cover the diverse range of African America’s views on topics. Chairman Watts emphasizes that this will be a channel for African Americans and by African Americans. Just how far that is to go though we will discuss later on in the article.

Starting at the 8:50 mark in the video, Chairman Watts discusses with Ms. Sheffield, Founder of Bold TV, the important relationship that Black News Channel will seek to build with HBCUs and just how much content there is available within those institutions alone. A statement that should be not underappreciated given that BNC is going to attempt to be a 24/7 news channel. While the plan a few years ago was for BCN to be housed on the campus of Florida A&M University, the company has shifted its focus on making the FAMU School of Journalism a target school for BCN with internships, curriculum engagement, and employment opportunities upon graduation.

The company features a host of Rattler alumnae. Mr. Amir Windom, a rising star in media circles will be the Director of Creative Services. It also features Ms. Georgia Dawkins, who will serve as Director of HBCU Services. Lastly, the Director of Corporate Business Development is Ms. Erika Littles.

Ms. Sheffield brings up just some of the larger outlets in the landscape that currently stands in African American targeted media like The Root, Black Entertainment Television, NBC Black, OWN, TV One, and questions aloud where BCN will find its place among the field.

However, a point that was not brought up and should always be at the forefront of our minds when new products are launched that target African America is who actually is profiting from our eyeballs. We are often providing the labor and the viewership in many instances while reaping none of the economic rewards that comes with ownership and ultimately the control of the narrative. BET is owned by Viacom, NBC is owned by Comcast, The Root is owned by Univision, which itself is owned by very Eurocentric private equity firms, and even OWN, the channel beloved by Oprah followers, is majority owned by Discovery Communications. On the website for Black News Channel, while Chairman J.C. Watts is listed as a co-founder, the other co-founder is Bob Brillante. What is the potential ownership split? There are seven other owner/investors listed on the company’s website, but what each individuals stake is remains unclear. As a private company, they are certainly not required by any means to disclose this information, but it would certainly go a long way to endorsing just how much of an African American “owned” media asset this actually is.

There is a harsh reality that the majority of sizeable media assets focusing on African Americans is not in the ownership hands of African Americans. The Washington Post reported that in 2013, “African American ownership remains particularly low, hovering at less than one percent of all television properties, and less than 2 percent of radio.” This is certainly not to say that Black News Channel will not have an impact. It is projected to employ almost 100 people, many of them being HBCU alumni and students as we have already seen in key positions, but we must push the envelope further. We need more investment in publications that are owned by our community like HBCU Digest, Atlanta Black Star, HBCU Gameday and many others.  Traditional media is not dying, it is evolving (and consolidating into the hands of a few) and has already done so in major ways. Unfortunately, we are often lacking the resources to keep up despite our ingenuity.

We appreciate that the Black News Channel makes it a point to be transparent about their ownership, hope that they will be an inclusive platform to smaller African American owned publications looking to establish themselves, and definitely continue to integrate itself within the many schools of journalism that HBCUs have and the richness that those assets can bring to the table.

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The Finance & Tech Week In Review – 1/21/17


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Every Saturday the HBCU Money staff picks ten articles they were intrigued by and think you will enjoy for some weekend reading impacting finance and tech.

Public investment in K-12 schools has declined dramatically in a number of states over the last decade. / CBPP ow.ly/aasE308d4WH

Industry reacts: Is HUD’s FHA mortgage insurance premium suspension good or bad? / Housing Wirebit.ly/2k9DByz

The rise of American ingenuity: innovation and inventors of the golden age / NBER bit.ly/2j2Gjse

92% of us are breathing unsafe air. This map shows just how bad the problem is / WEF wef.ch/2iRWlli

Best of Davos: ASEAN is 50, and it’s come a long way. Here’s why you should care / WEF wef.ch/2jcFwCq

Robot reporter gets first article published in China / Computerworld ow.ly/jkDC308aMOF

“Sweden sets 100% renewable energy production target” / Renewable Cities buff.ly/2iKKrNk
Slip a robotic sleeve over a weak heart, and it keeps on pumping / Science News ow.ly/nm6H308aMHX
China reminds Trump that supercomputing is a race / Computerworld ow.ly/kLuI308aMDJ
A-to-Z Review Finds California’s Clean Cars Program Is Working / Clean Technica ow.ly/lknI308aMya

Black Enterprise Fails To Lead With Journalistic Integrity After Not Crediting HBCU Money Article On Ann Kroenke


By William A. Foster, IV

No man ever yet became great by imitation. – Samuel Johnson

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I was in second grade when I did my first book report. The class went to the library during the day and picked out our books and I chose Fraggle Rock to do my report on. Upon arriving home my mother as was customary had me and my sister sit down at the table to do our homework while she prepared dinner. I was excited about my book report, but there was just one problem – I had no idea what a book report entailed. Not bothering to ask I just started copying the book verbatim and I was about halfway through the book when my mother came to check on my progress. My mother asked me what I was doing and I of course told her my book report. Realizing I was just copying every word in the book she realized that perhaps I had not been properly instructed or did not understand exactly what a book report was. She talked to me about plagiarism or in second grade comprehension “copying” other people’s work and how it was not allowed. This was as they say a learning moment because beyond just explaining plagiarism to me she also talked to me about integrity, ethics, and the hard work that both the author and illustrator put into the book, and that it is always important to acknowledge people’s efforts. My mother being who she is had me to complete my first works cited page.

HBCU Money is a startup financial journalism multimedia company. There are no full-time writers and the site itself is still currently in a blog style format. I secure guest writers and try to be very creative producing original content like The HBCUpreneur Corner, one of the site’s more popular series that interviews HBCU entrepreneurs. The site is largely financed through bootstrapping and reinvesting the pence that the site currently receives through ad revenue. A primary reason for the blog style format is that its free and an extensive site overhaul has not been in the budget. Focusing on quality content has been. HBCU Money will not even turn three years old for another four months. While the site recently achieved the 100 000 views milestone, HBCU Money is by no means busting at the bandwidth in terms of readership. Our social media presence is limited to less than 1 000 followers and the Facebook page has less than 200. Despite all these resource limitations my mother’s lesson is soundly within me with all content that is produced. Sources are extensively fact checked and credit is always given when quoting others work. The fundamentals or basics you learn in high school english 101 and as a college freshmen in your english composite class. Things that I believe will be in this company’s DNA as it grows and a culture I will fight fiercely to ensure are well rooted into anyone who comes to work for this company.

Recently, I was working on a piece on education demographics of America’s 100 wealthiest and I happen upon Mrs. Ann Kroenke. Her Forbes profile listed her school as Lincoln University. As you may or may not know there are three Lincoln Universities in the United States and two are HBCUs. I could have just assumed that she went to the Lincoln University in Missouri because she lives in Missouri. Instead, I decided to do what you were suppose to do and that is contact a credible source. I did so by contacting the registrar’s office at LUM, which I chose first because most signs pointed to it being the most likely one. I received verification from the school that yes I had the right person.  This is a huge story. In fact, the morning I was breaking this story a fellow journapreneur Jarrett Carter, owner and publisher of HBCU Digest, said to me, “I hope your server is tight. I am sure this post will go global. Don’t let your site melt.”  I knew the story was big. For decades, Oprah Winfrey had been held up as HBCU’s wealthiest and only billionaire HBCU alumn. Now, I was about to tell HBCU Nation that was incorrect and the true wealthiest HBCU alum is a Walton, owners’ of the Walmart Empire, and an European American woman. I felt fairly certain that the HBCU Digest would pick up the story as one of its primary objectives is to operate as a curation resource for HBCU news and information. However, I never had any doubts that Jarrett and his staff would acknowledge our role in breaking the story. As the picture below shows that is exactly what they did and have always done when curating any of HBCU Money’s articles. Are they required to do this? No, but it is about journalistic integrity. Unfortunately, everyone does not seem to share this sense of integrity.  The next day, I decided to do a social media check on twitter just to see how well the article was spreading. Well, it was spreading alright, but it was not spreading from us. One of Black Enterprise’s writers decided to parrot our article and link its source back to Forbes as you see in their picture below, but at no point acknowledge who actually broke the story. Obviously, Black Enterprise has a much larger reach than we do so for all intents and purposes to most consumers it looks as if they broke the story. Again, well within their legal rights to report it as they did, but completely lacking any integrity along the way. HBCU Money is a small print compared to Black Enterprise, Bloomberg, and Forbes in the financial journalism industry. What would it hurt Black Enterprise to give credit to the little guy who put in endless hours to research and break such a story?

HBCU Digest curation of HBCU Money’s article on Ann Kroenke. (below)

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Black Enterprise’s parroting of HBCU Money’s article on Ann Kroenke. (below)

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This situation speaks to the cancer that is in journalism today. The desire to be first or grab whatever story is driving traffic is crumbling the fundamentals of journalistic virtuosity today. You can see it when you watch CNN, Fox, and other major media outlets. Breaking original stories is no longer a priority or building on the established story. Black Enterprise could have interviewed HBCU Money and talked to us about what it was like to break such a story, but they did not. Given they have many times my resources they could have gone to Missouri and potentially interviewed Mrs. Kroenke about our story. Both would have been building upon the story that was out and still have been original on their part. Instead, they chose the apathetic and unimaginative option of parroting our story and driving traffic to their site. Black Enterprise could be helping to cultivate a new generation of journalpreneurs like HBCU Digest, HBCUstory, and HBCU Money. It is after all, a company that was founded and owned by an HBCU graduate. Unfortunately, behavior like this makes it questionable that beyond their own limited resources what if any lessons they could share. It also comes across to me as a company attempting to fruitlessly protect its monopoly on African American financial journalism and speaks to an interview Ken Auletta had with Charlie Rose in 2010 where he discussed an interview with Bill Gates. He asked Gates what he was worried about and to Auletta surprise, Gates answer was not being the obvious competitors that Microsoft had at the time, but he said, “I worry about someone  in a garage inventing something I’ve never thought of.” It almost begs the question has journalism as an industry completely lost its way with the advent of blogging. Journalist and news companies are now operating more as bloggers and not as journalist; not looking to produce original stories like that of HBCU Money’s Ann Kroenke or even attempting to research, investigate, and report something that could be among the Brookings Institute’s Ten Noteworthy Moments In U.S. Investigative Journalism. There is an abyss of stories in African America and Diaspora business world that goes uncovered and that not even one company with all its might could cover alone.

Nas came out with an album entitled Hip Hop Is Dead speaking to his frustration of the absence of quality and originality of content within the music genre ten years ago. However, hip-hop was not dead, but the ability to find artist and the accompanying music that had a depth of constitution required a deeper inquiry than in previous generations. As is the case today with journalism it appears; and that is regrettable given how important information and different angles or points of view are to our society. The need for more media ownership in this country goes without saying, and that is especially true for African America, but I believe it to be true for every community. Every community needs to be able to express their point of view and relay information about things that are intimately impacting them. However, with that ownership comes a great responsibility to the pillars that my mother instilled in me at our dinner table that night and that is integrity, ethics, and hard work. If we do not have them as an industry, then we will be relegated to a society of informationally embalmed people instead of the vibrant, progressive, and inquisitive society that we believe we want and should be.

The HBCUpreneur Corner – Morgan State’s Jarrett Carter, Sr. & Carter Media Enterprises


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Name: Jarrett Carter Sr.

Alma Mater: Morgan State University, Class of 2003

Business Name & Description: Carter Media Enterprises, a new media development and consulting company with focus on coverage of African-American news and lifestyle.

What year did you found your company? 2008

What was the most exciting and/or fearful moment during your HBCUpreneur career? One of the most exciting highlights of my career thus far was the chance to give the keynote address to Hampton University’s Greer-Dawson-Wilson Student Leadership program. To take a stage at one of the nation’s most prestigious HBCUs headed by perhaps the greatest black college president in history, and to speak to students who will soon become esteemed leaders in a wide range of fields is something I will never forget. And I will be forever grateful to Hampton University for such a honor.

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What made you want to start your own company? Understanding that media was changing in a way that would give more black people a chance to have media leverage and credibility, I thought that I would bring a unique perspective to some underrepresented elements of our culture, and so I started a series of blogs focusing on HBCU news and issues, black images in mass media, and hip-hop culture from an artistic perspective. (StereotypeSquad.com and RapReservoir.com, respectively.)

Who was the most influential person/people for you during your time in college? Morgan gave me so many great role models. Among my professors was Frank Dexter Brown, the creator of YSB Magazine, Dr. Ruthe Sheffey, one of the world’s leading experts on William Shakespeare and Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. Michael Bayton, a brilliant scholar and professor of American literature, and Dr. Burney Hollis, my Dean Emeritus of the MSU College of Liberal Arts who to this day remains a source of humor, insight and inspiration as a Morgan Man. All of these people taught me, but also inspired me to think as a creator and observer, and not just as a student.

How do you handle complex problems? I talk to my wife constantly. She really is my best friend, my harshest critic, and the love of my life. Between her perspective and mine, we are frequently able to hash out solutions for difficult problems. I’m also blessed to have great mentors and friends, whom I can depend on to talk critical issues in my life, or even to have discourse on cultural problems and issues. Many times, the discourse is a good way to exercise the brain in such a way that complex personal problems often reveal simple answers.

What is something you wish you had known prior to starting your company? I wish I had established a larger network of media industry contacts and officials at schools. Hampton President William Harvey once told me that the key to running a college is to run it as a business with educational objectives. I set out to tell stories and to improve perceptions about HBCUs, but if I could do it over again, I would have managed my company to operate as a media brand with outreach objectives from Day One.

What do you believe HBCUs and colleges of the African Diaspora can do to spur more innovation and entrepreneurship with their students and the local community? – I think that if colleges and universities mandated for the major courses to examine ownership and business building, our students would have a different outlook on what it means to be a professional, a community member and philanthropist. They would approach work from what they could own one day, and not what company is most prestigious to work for. In turn, I think our alumni and supporters would buy into this concept enough to support by giving money and expertise.

How do you deal with rejection? When I first got started, not well. I would buy into the stereotype that black people were hesitant to support their own. But three years in, I understand that when you don’t have a lot of resources, and you are a great idea with low-level executions, our people are much more likely to invest in a personality and vision than they are an actual product. Paul Quinn President Michael Sorrell once told me that there’s no such thing as ‘no,’ only ‘not yet.’ I have found this to be true at a professional and personal level, if you invest a lot of time analyzing your vision and personality, and working to make those things come to the front of every approach you make in business or in life.

When you have down time how do you like to spend it? I’m a very simple guy, so I love being with my wife and two sons. Watching sports, playing video games, and reading are the ways I get away to think about new ideas, or to just take my mind off of overwhelming topics, requests or development strategies. I’ve learned that you have to incorporate time off to let your mind, body and spirit recover from fully investing in your calling. If you don’t, you can’t appreciate the work that you’re called to do, or the fact that you are called to do it.

What was your most memorable HBCU memory? Strangely enough, graduating from a PWI with my master’s in communication management. The five years it took me to finish that degree – a year and a half to do course requirements and three years to assemble a non-racist, supportive thesis committee, were the toughest times I ever encountered. Finishing the program made me realize several things – one, how much tougher it must have been for our forbearers to seek and endure integration in the throes of civil rights. Two, how spoiled I was by the HBCU experience of having faculty push and support you beyond the classroom. Three, how much harder I need to work for HBCUs to get fair representation in the media, so that they won’t have to endure potential scenarios of isolation, racism or discrimination at a PWI as they work towards college degrees.

In leaving is there any advice you have for budding HBCUpreneurs? – College is a professional development and networking haven. You are there to learn about an industry, and to find your place within it. If you aren’t a business major, take some business courses for electives, and learn all that you can through volunteering and internship about how to do a job and manage a product. Before you leave, make sure that you have incorporated an LLC, and even if you don’t know what product or service you can offer, create a business idea that can evolve into a business plan. In a down economoy, it is the person with the most creativity, the most innovation, and the one who finds a need to fill that will become wealthy, and will be able to give back to our people to build more entrepreneurship in our communities.