UNIVERSITY NEWS | The February launch of the Black News Channel included a reception and panel discussion at Loyola Marymount University, co-sponsored by the Office of Black Student Services and Charter Spectrum. The Los Angeles-based event, one of a series nationwide, on Feb. 28, 2020, brought to the campus more than 100 business, civic and entertainment industry leaders.
“It is a long-delayed opportunity,” said Bryant Keith Alexander, dean of the LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts, “for the black community to be provided with critically curated news that is committed, like our own LMU mission statement suggests – to the information, formation and transformation – of black people.” Alexander welcomed the gathering to campus, expressing the hopes that BNC “will live up to its commitment … to the diversity within blackness in this nation — across class, geography, points of origin and issues of sex/sexuality and gender plurality.”
The Tallahassee, Florida-based network, co-founded by former congressman J.C. Watts, and CEO Bob Brillante, will provide access to information and educational programming to meet the specific needs of this growing and dynamic community that is a major consumer of subscription television services, according to its website. BNC’s collaboration with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization that represents African American newspapers nationwide, will provide the network access to stories not covered by other news organizations.
“The aphorism of ‘news for us by us’ is important to the creation of a news channel that is predominantly run by African Americans,” said Alexander. “And will present diverse aspects of African American (black) life through a critical frame with a commitment to trustworthy reporting.”
In an interview with the Washington Times, Watts said, “We are more than athletes and entertainers, and on the hard news side, we’re more than crime,” said Watts, who was a star quarterback at the University of Oklahoma in the 1980s and later played in the Canadian Football League.
“For every 17-year-old African American male that you show me that’s being carted off in handcuffs on the 10 o’clock news … I can show you 50 17-year-old African American males that get up every morning trying to figure out, ‘How am I going to make my mother proud of me.’ That’s the story doesn’t get told enough.”
The panelists at the LMU event included Gary Wardlow of the BNC who moderated the discussion; Watts; David White, national executive director of SAG/AFTRA, the actors’ Guild; Paula Madison of Madison Media Management; and actor and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph.
“While providing the black community with critical ways of interpreting ‘social, economic and political debates,’ promoting an informed and motivated citizenry to effect local, and national decisions is critical to our future, and indeed the survival of our planet,” said Alexander. “Such goals are consonant with the LMU Mission, and our own LMU active planning toward a Media Center dedicated to promoting ethical and trustworthy practices in media, news production and journalism for a just society.”