A View from the Field: Black Narrative Power
A View from the Field is an ongoing feature that highlights the efforts of Free Press’ team of organizers and advocates. Once a month, we’ll provide their updates from the field as they work alongside our amazing allies and activists to create a more just and equitable media system.
- The Media 2070 team joined with MediaJustice and the Movement for Black Lives to present Black Narrative Power Month. A series of virtual gatherings held throughout February showcased media-makers, journalists and activists discussing ways to create a future where Black people have the capital needed to control the creation, production and distribution of their own stories.
- Media 2070 Director Alicia Bell and MediaJustice Narrative Director Eteng Ettah led the Feb. 9 Zoom webinar “The Things We Carry With Us,” which invited participants to imagine what a world with media reparations might look like.
- A Feb. 16 Clubhouse chat lifted up media-makers who are inspiring transformation in newsrooms. Los Angeles Times journalist Erin B. Logan, Vice reporter Alexis Johnson and News Voices: Philadelphia Project Manager Tauhid Chappell took part in the conversation, which was moderated by Rutgers University scholar and Peabody Award-winning podcaster Chenjerai Kumanyika.
- On Feb. 23, Media 2070 and MediaJustice hosted “Reclaiming Our Story,” a Facebook Live conversation where Black movement journalists and activists explored narratives that could shape a future filled with Black joy and self-determination. “Black narrative power is being able to be seen in your fullness and being able to see yourself and your community reflected,” News Voices: Colorado Manager Diamond Hardiman said during the discussion.
- More info about this series is available here.
- Senior Director of Strategy and Engagement Joseph Torres participated in a Movement for Black Lives chat on the Clubhouse app titled "The Future of Black Dissent," which examined how lawmakers across the country are using anti-protest legislation to oppress Black organizing and activism.
- Co-CEO Jessica J. González spoke at LULAC’s State of Latino America Virtual Summit, where she took part in the panel discussion “Ensuring Broadband Access to the Latinx Community”. In her comments, Jessica noted that in the United States, 77 million people lack adequate home internet — including 35 percent of Latinx people.
- On Feb. 17, Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood testified in Congress in support of treating broadband as an essential utility during the pandemic and beyond. His testimony explored how the dire impacts of the digital divide have become all too clear during this public-health emergency, especially for communities of color.
- Joseph and Chief of Staff Misty Perez Truedson participated in the Public Knowledge webinar “A Seat at the Table: How Tech Policy Groups Can Welcome Diverse Talent”. Panelists discussed approaches to boosting diversity within organizations, the value of mentorship and ways to ensure that tech policy serves communities of color.
- Diamond worked with partners Colorado Media Project and Colorado News Collaborative to launch the Black Voices: Colorado working-group series. Composed of Black leaders, storytellers and journalists, the groups will craft strategies to ensure that Black Coloradans can access the news and information they need — and experience repair from newsrooms that have harmed Black communities in the state.
- Vice President of Cultural Strategy Collette Watson is hosting a weekly Free Press Live discussion series on Facebook. The debut episode featured Collette in conversation with Joseph and Government Relations Director Sandra Fulton. The three explored how anti-protest bills proposed in Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri and beyond restrict people’s First Amendment rights to demonstrate — and are specifically designed to violate the rights of Black activists fighting for racial justice.
- The second Free Press Live featured Collette with News Voices: New Jersey Manager Vanessa Maria Graber and News Voices Director Mike Rispoli. The three talked about how media mergers and predatory hedge funds like Alden Global Capital are decimating local journalism. Known for slashing newsrooms, Alden recently acquired Tribune Publishing, which owns The Chicago Tribune, The Hartford Courant and The New York Daily News, among other papers.
- The next Free Press Live featured Collette alongside Co-CEO Craig Aaron and Senior Director of Strategy and Communications Timothy Karr. They discussed Australia’s plan to force Big Tech companies to pay millions of dollars to local-news publishers in exchange for featuring their content on their platforms — and why that approach might not work in the United States.
- Vanessa discussed the power of community media at the Spring 2021 Spotlight Series at Stockton University in New Jersey.
- Free Press Action, MediaJustice, the ACLU and Color Of Change hosted the briefing “Safety, Not Surveillance: Resisting Criminalization After Crisis”. Sandra helped organize the briefing and took part in the conversation, which explored how intelligence agencies and law-enforcement officials often exploit events like the violent white-supremacist insurrection on Jan. 6 to justify surveillance of Black and Brown communities. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D–Michigan) opened the discussion, which MediaJustice Campaign Strategies Director Myaisha Hayes moderated. The organizers joined with 108,000 people in urging Congress to root out white supremacy in law enforcement and stop spying on Black activists.