This October marks two years since the founding of Media 2070: The Media Reparations Project, and what a dynamic two years it has been.
Thanks to the generous support of members, partners and the community, we have been able to travel across the country exploring the history of media’s anti-Black harms while collaborating to dream up media reparations.
We know there’s so much on the other side of reparations. Justice. Abundance. Healing. Health. Connection. Shared stories and truths that lead to the care and support that are needed. For Black communities and for all.
We are well on the way to that time. Here’s what the journey has looked like so far this year:
- Media 2070 Campaign Manager Venneikia Williams took part in the conversation “Black Media: Makers and Keepers of History” at CUNY. During this gathering, she gave a presentation on what media reparations might look like.
- As part of its second annual Black Narrative Power Month, the Media 2070 team and Jordan Carr of My Photosynthesis Shop hosted a guided meditation and movement session for Black media-makers and other media-makers of color.
- Media 2070, Georgetown Law and the University of Houston Law Center held a remarkable two-day conference on race, racism and American media. Speakers included Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, UCLA Professor Safiya Noble and MediaJustice founder Malkia Devich Cyril. The event featured a powerful presentation on the fight for media reparations from Free Press Senior Director of Strategy and Engagement Joseph Torres, Free Press alum and former Media 2070 Director Alicia Bell, and Media 2070 partner Trevor Smith of Liberation Ventures.
- Joseph also took part in a #TwitterSpaces discussion of the critical need for culturally competent Black news media.
- Venneikia took part in “What Do Reparations Look Like,” a panel discussion exploring the fight for federal reparations for the Black community. Panelists shared their strategies for nationwide organizing, ranging from education to storytelling to direct action. Liberation Ventures and the Women Donors Network co-hosted this event.
- Free Press Vice President of Cultural Strategy and Media 2070 Director Collette Watson joined Venneikia in presenting at the Donors of Color Network retreat in New Mexico. 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones and legendary political activist and scholar Dr. Angela Davis served as the keynote speakers.
- Venneikia and Free Press Program Manager Diamond Hardiman spoke at the Skoll World Forum’s Ecosystem Event Day about the urgent need for media reparations.
- Diamond discussed media organizing during a virtual presentation at Colorado’s Empower Community High School. The conversation took place in coordination with YAASPA, a youth activist organization represented in Free Press’ Black Voices Working Group.
- Diamond also took part in the panel discussion “Racial Reckonings in Newsrooms” at the Reva & David Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting, held at the University of California, Berkeley.
- During its April consortium meeting, members of the Media 2070 team premiered their documentary Black in the Newsroom. The film centers on Elizabeth Montgomery, a talented Black journalist who landed her dream job at The Arizona Republic — but ended up fighting a deep-rooted system of harm.
- Collette helped facilitate the first public screening of Black in the Newsroom, held on the campus of Arizona State University. The event included a panel discussion featuring Black community organizers, entrepreneurs, artists and media-makers. Special thanks to our film’s sponsorship partners at Mass Liberation Arizona and InSite Consulting Group.
- Venneikia gave the keynote speech at “Black Well-Being: Moving Toward Solutions Together.” This Seattle event was hosted by the Black Future Co-op Fund, a Washington-based collective creating a new model for philanthropy.
- Diamond discussed the campaign for media reparations during a panel discussion held as part of “Juneteenth: Fighting for Liberation,” presented by Chicago-based group Blackroots Alliance. Venneikia helped facilitate breakout groups during the second day of the gathering.
- Venneikia joined MediaJustice Narrative Director Eteng Ettah on FreeSpeech TV for a virtual screening of Media Justice’s digital series That’s So Black, which explores the dynamics of Black storytelling and cultural ownership in the digital age.
- Diamond and Venneikia presented a session on “Black Future Newsstands” at the Allied Media Conference. During the conversation, they invited participants to imagine what kinds of news, information and storytelling might exist in the future if they centered the vastness of Black experience.
- Collette traveled to Morgantown, West Virginia, to screen Black in the Newsroom. A discussion of the film featured local Black journalists and media-makers including Crystal Good, the founder of West Virginia’s lone Black-owned newspaper, Black By God: The West Virginian.
- Diamond and Alicia took part in the #Vision25 event series, hosted by the Maynard Journalism Institute in partnership with the Online News Association and OpenNews. Diamond and Alicia discussed the Media 2070 project and pay discrimination in the news industry — an issue highlighted in Black in the Newsroom.
- Collette joined Hollywood-based cultural-organizing group BLD PWR for its screening of the documentary American Blackout as a panelist in the post-film talkback alongside Treehouse LA founder Prophet Walker. The discussion — which was moderated by the film’s producer, Anastasia King — explored issues of politics, voting, disinformation and culture.
- Collette presented Black in the Newsroom at the Phoenix Center for the Arts and at the Detroit Black Film Festival, where it won best documentary short. The film is also an official selection at the Peachtree Village International Film Festival, the Urban Mediamakers Film Festival and the Indie Film Fest.
- Diamond facilitated the session “Media Reparations and Moving Forward” at the Colorado Media Project’s Advancing Equity in Local News convening. The gathering featured presentations from local journalists, national experts, community members and funders.
- Diamond and Venneikia gave a presentation for Professor Allissa V. Richardson’s “Reporting Race & Justice” class at the University of Southern California. Diamond and Venneikia screened Black in the Newsroom and made zine covers featuring “Black Future Headlines” to help students imagine a world where anti-Blackness no longer defines newsrooms. Diamond and Venneikia also discussed various Free Press projects, like the Black Voices and Latinx Voices community groups in Colorado and the Media 2070 campaign calling on news outlets to care for Black journalists and communities.
- Black in the Newsroom film subject Elizabeth Montgomery was a panelist at the Online News Association’s 2022 conference in Los Angeles, where she discussed pay equity in the field of journalism as part of #Vision25’s series on the topic.
We’re thankful that the Media 2070 project is helping to spark the types of conversations that can actually shift culture, policies and lived realities. And we’re immensely grateful for our consortium members, collaborators, donors and friends who are helping to make all of this possible.
May the future be ripe with the resources needed for Black people to tenderly steward their own stories. May the minds, bodies and spirits of Black media-makers receive overflowing support and care. And may our shared future include a transformed media that contributes to healing and justice for all.
Thank you for helping Media 2070 make real progress toward this juicy, inevitable reality.
To support our work in the year ahead, click here.