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Media and Its Coverage of The African American Community

Sandwiched in between the Coffee Contacts and the Geneva Business Expo on Thursday was a noontime Black History Month panel discussion concerning the media and its coverage of the African American community although we believed that what was said could apply to all ethnic communities.

It took place in the Rotunda in Cleveland City Hall and was moderated by Ms. Shelley M. Shockley, Manager of Marketing at "Cleveland Public Power." Featured as panelists were Ms. Danielle Wiggins of "WKYC TV-3"; Mr. Ken Miller, CEO and President of the "Call & Post"; and Mr. Dick Peery, retired "Plain Dear" reporter and columnist who also worked for the "Call & Post" at one time.

The program started with a prayer by Mr. Michael Shockley in which he said that he hoped that events like this one would open people's eyes so that Cleveland would continue to unite and become "one community" He also pointed out (correctly we believe) that "Black History" is about the history of the world, not just about people of color. 

During the course of the discussion, it was brought out that such newspapers as the "Call & Post" and the "Los Angeles Sentinel", and we would include "La Prensa" and the "Erie Chinese Journal", were imperative because many of the major media outlets do not cover what goes on in ethnic communities on a day-to-day basis unless something important (i.e. crime, trouble, and unrest) is going on there. 

Ms. Wiggins and Mr. Miller talked about how, just like other established news channels, ethnic media faces the problems of having to master the current technologies of twitter, Instagram and Facebook in order to get the news out as quickly as possible to as many people as possible. Along these lines, there is often a lack of money so salaries are low (at least in the beginning) and those wishing to pursue a career in journalism/reporting must be very dedicated and achieve fulfillment from knowing that they did the best job that they could do; not just a pay check.  

During the Q and A, our friend Ms. Chia-Min Chen expressed her concern about commercial media not having the time or resources to seldom do in-depth coverage of happenings because one doesn't have a clear understanding of what is going on if one does not know the background. All three panelist lamented this reality while raising a point that was unfortunate but true; how many people who follow the news (quite a few) have the time or the motivation to read/digest a long perhaps complicated report (not too many). 

On this day, from a historical perspective, we were fortunate enough to have Mr. Peery on the panel who emphasized the importance of a newspaper like the "Call & Post" because Mr. Carl Stokes would not have been elected Mayor of Cleveland, a truly historical event in 1967 which paved the way for other people of color to hold public office. He said that you "could draw a red line" from the Stokes election to that of President Barack Obama in 2008. 

As for these times, Mr. Miller said that he believed an important challenge faced by ethnic communities is often a lack of self-esteem and he believed that it was his responsibility to positively impact the lives of young people so, since there is "lots of room" at the "Call & Post" offices, he is initiating a new program wherein school children would be welcomed there after school to do their homework and relax in a safe environment. 

Along these lines, if the young people were interested, they could learn about journalism and pathways to making a career out of it.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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