by Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. and Jim Winston
So far, 2022 has been a year of multiple socio-economic and political challenges for all Americans across the country. Yet for African Americans and other communities of color, this year presents both challenges and opportunities from a business ownership perspective. In particular, for black-owned media companies, there is a growing sense of resilience, even in the face of the persistence of deep racial disparities and societal inequalities.
The communications and media industry in America in particular should be one of the leading industries that embraces “good business” sense to embrace the values and benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion ( DEI). It is not about charity or benevolence. Diversity is objectively good for business.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) are working together to encourage the media and advertising industries to become more proactive and committed to diversity, from C-suites to decision-makers. But much more needs to be done to increase and strengthen ownership of media companies by African Americans and other minorities.
Economic equity in media requires equal access to investment capital, technical advancements in communications infrastructure, and inclusion in other industry innovations. As increasing shifts in the nation’s racial demographics continue to accelerate in the United States, America’s media must be more representative of the nation’s growing diversity.
It should therefore be noted that one of the major media mergers recently announced has Standard General, a minority-owned company, pending regulatory reviews and approvals by the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission, acquiring TEGNA , a company that owns 64 television stations. around the country. Soo Kim, a successful Asian American business leader who is the founding and managing partner of Standard General, said, “We are open to exploring new partnership models to gain diverse perspectives and perspectives on the air and to make sure people have the resources to do it.”
We agree with this sentiment, as multiracial ownership of American media companies will continue to be viewed as a strategic forecast for the nation’s future economic well-being. We intend to raise our voices in support of the positive economic and social consequences of the diversification of American media.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights noted, “Access to the media by the broadest sector of society is crucial to ensuring that diverse viewpoints are presented to the American people, but racial and gender disparities in the Media ownership dating back to the early civil rights era continues to persist. Again, overcoming these disparities should be a national priority for the media industry.
“At a time when more and more people, especially black people, are distrustful of the media, diversity in media ownership,” argues the Leadership Conference, “has become more important than ever to the functioning of our democracy. Diversity in ownership is part of that solution. We agree with the position of the Leaders’ Conference on Civil and Human Rights on this issue.
Finally, as our nation prepares today for the upcoming midterm elections in November, many are predicting low overall voter turnout. Millions of dollars will be spent on Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) campaigns. Those wishing to increase GOTV among African Americans and other communities of color will need to engage black-owned media as the “trusted voice” of Black America in order to increase voter turnout.
(Jim Winston is President/CEO of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters [NABOB] headquartered in Washington, D.C. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is President/CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association [NNPA] headquartered in Washington, DC)