We messed up. When we err, we need to admit it and move to correct wrong. Black folks have been complaining about BET programming for ages when, in actuality, they've been checking it out on "down low."
Listening to negativity over years, even I was shocked to find out there were so many closet watchers secretly hooked on BET Nightly News. I've gotten calls and emails from people all over country upset about BET's decision to cancel program. Many of them say that BET is their only real connection to Black community, and, for many organizations it is often only TV coverage they receive.
It's not just over 40 crew tuning in each night for an update on what’s happening in Black America, young people of all nationalities are aware of current events in Black world thanks to BET Nightly News.
After constant criticism of BET programming, Black community was incensed when Robert Johnson made a savvy business move and sold company to Viacom. As many people predicted, nightly newscast hit chopping block.
If we do not want all of Black media to fold or get sucked up by mainstream conglomerates, we must recognize that news is a product governed by laws of supply and demand. The more we watch our own news, read and subscribe to our print publications and praise work, more that business can flourish.
Since slavery Black publications have been consistent advocates in our community and are still first people called when there’s a problem. Unless it's celebrity driven or blood ridden, mainstream press does not address our issues until there's sufficient buzz created in Black press.
For example, recently several stories appeared in Black press about lack of concern for missing Black women. Those stories resulted in coverage in mainstream media including USA Today. And, no one can deny impact George Curry’s article on Kemba Smith had on her case and criminal justice system as a whole.
For those of you who believe Black media has out-lived its usefulness, Richard Prince's Journal-isms recently reported that The New York Times Co. is starting a Black newspaper in Gainesville, Fla. I’m not mad at New York Times for their efforts to increase revenue by targeting Black market; I’m sad that we do not recognize our own value and repeatedly take our struggling media institutions for granted.
There are Black publications - like 100 year-old Chicago Defender - that have served as voice of community for years. Among those already in Florida are Broward Times, Weekly Challenger, Westside Gazette, and Jacksonville Advocate; why would New York Times start their own Black newspaper in Florida?