With all that is going on in the world, the best way to make sense of what is happening is by talking it out with others. On Saturday, June 8th, NABJ Chicago’s Black Male Media Project hosted an informational panel conversation to talk about the troubling times that we are going through now. The five Black men a part of this panel were Charles Preston, Dometi Pongo, Jamal Collier, and Torrance Latham. Brandon Pope from the morning show “The Jam” moderated the event.
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REPORTING & RACE: YOUNG PROS GET REAL ABOUT BLACK MEN IN MEDIA | #NABJChicago Join us Saturday, June 6th at 2pm ••• #Repost @maudlynei Racial strife in the community, politics in the newsroom, a global pandemic and job insecurity — there’s no shortage of challenges many black men in media are facing today as they try to establish themselves in the industry in 2020. So what keeps them going? #NABJChicago talks to four young black male journalists about challenges of the business and coverage of black men in an hour-long forum — #ReportingNRace — part of (NABJ) National Association of Black Journalists' nationwide Black Male Media Project on Saturday, June 6. Follow the discussion on #ZOOM, @zoom_video_communications @facebook Live and @instagram Live, and tweet your own experiences, questions and concerns about the issues before, during and after the panel, using hashtags #InspireBlackMen and #NABJChicago. Join us Saturday for this timely talk!
All of these men are a part of the journalism and communications world, working with companies like the Chicago Tribune and MTV. They had a lot of things to speak about. The first question was “What is not connecting about race and our experience? Why have we not made a breakthrough yet?” Latham, from the Associated Press, was the first to respond, saying that it is a “lack of empathy” on the side of our White counterparts. Pongo, from MTV, also made a great point when answering the question, saying, “We are fighting an uphill battle because so many of our White counterparts have been miseducated throughout their careers.”
The next big thing that they talked about was objectivity, and how they should use their voices responsibly and be good journalists at the same time. Preston, of Injustice Watch, answered the question piggy backing off of Collier’s answer, saying that their job is to tell the truth and contextualize what is going on. He added that objectivity in journalism is a White construct. Latham said, “Our lived experience is our expertise” and “Racism isn’t a both sides issue, it’s a right and wrong issue.”
The panel transitioned into a really interesting question, which was, “Should White people cover race problems? Should they be allowed to?” Preston believed that they should, but they need to be educated and “know that race intersects everything.” The panel also brought up different scenarios that show that White people don’t care to do the same kind of research about race that they would about any other thing that they report on.
During the discussion, the fellas transitioned to talk to the younger audience and offer us advice. Pongo’s advice to young men trying to be journalists was to “know what advice not to listen to” because a lot of the barriers that we have are self-imposed. Preston’s advice was to create relationships so that we have people to back us up on our paths.
The final point that they spoke about was what steps we could take after the panel to make a difference. Some of the things that people can do, according to the panel, is work within our communities and treating everyone with respect. The guys also noted that we need to organize our power so that we can continue to push our cause.
Overall, it was a very intriguing conversation with a lot of good and different points being made to make sense of what is going on. Now it’s up to us all to take the next steps and continue to fight for what is right.
The watch the conversation for your yourself click below.
REPORTING AND RACE: NABJ BLACK MALE MEDIA PROJECT W/ Brandon Pope TV Charles Alexander Preston Jamal Collier, Torrance Latham Dometi Pongo
Posted by NABJ-Chicago Chapter on Saturday, June 6, 2020
By Devin Foster, Freshman, Bradley University