Media mogul eyes escalation of African American voices in broadcast media

by Hazel Trice Edney

Ben Chavis of NNPA and PBS Chronicles of Chavis asserts that the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion in the broadcasting industry is a major one.

( — In the early days of broadcasting, the faces of local television presenters, reporters and management were almost exclusively white and male.

While progress on diversity has been made, more needs to be done to ensure local media teams resemble the communities they serve. Newsroom and media diversity advocates have consistently stressed the need for people of color in newsroom management as well as on screen.

Therefore, an ongoing transaction between two companies known for their support of racial and gender inclusion is welcome. Federal regulators, namely the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) currently have the opportunity to support more diverse local broadcasting by approving the purchase of the main broadcaster TEGNA by Standard General, a company owned by a minority. Together, Standard General and TEGNA will be led by television industry veteran Deb McDermott, the first female broadcast executive to be inducted into the Broadcast and Cable Hall of Fame, forming the company’s largest broadcaster owned by minorities and run by women in the United States.

NABOB’s Jim Winston can’t wait to see the outcome of Soo Kim’s vision for more black broadcasters.

As directors wait for approval, they brainstorm ways to increase minority participation, including black voices.

“One of our key initiatives is to give voice to our communities,” said Soo Kim, founding partner of Standard General and current managing partner and chief investment officer. “We want to partner with community journalism groups to amplify the work they do and the communities they represent. We are open to exploring new partnership models to get diverse viewpoints and perspectives on the air and to ensure people have the resources to do so. We call it Enhanced Community Access or Creative Community Access and we’re excited about the possibilities it will open up.

Although newsrooms are much more diverse than they used to be, data shows that they are still less inclusive than other industries. A Pew Research Center survey published in 2018 found that 77% of newsroom workers, including reporters, photographers and videographers at not only newspapers but also internet and broadcast sites, were non-white. hispanics. For American workers in all occupations, that number is 65%.

Diversity in television reporting and programming is important. The women and minorities on screen and the employees behind the scenes bring different perspectives that strengthen the content for all viewers. They also build trust with a wider range of viewers in an increasingly diverse American population, an important goal in today’s often divided society. Given the long wait and the fight for equality, advocates for black media participation are hopeful, but are taking a wait-and-see stance on Kim’s ideas.

Soo Kim, owner of Standard General, wants to see more black people in the broadcast.

“I’m very happy to see Soo Kim’s statements about wanting to involve black journalists more in his business and I look forward to seeing how this develops,” said Jim Winston, president and CEO of the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters. “There is a definite need to intensify black voices. He buys a company that has significant assets in network television, an area in which black voices absolutely must be developed. So hopefully he will be able to make that happen.

Ben Chavis, president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which also hosts a television talk show on PBS, Chronicles of Chavissaid Kim pursues an important need if he succeeds.

“It’s about diversity, equity and inclusion in the broadcasting industry – both radio, television and social media,” Chavis said. “Given the changing demographics in America, we are much more of a multiracial, multicultural, and multilingual society. The broadcasting industry should reflect this diversity.

Together, Standard General and TEGNA will be led by television industry veteran Deb McDermott, the first female broadcast executive to be inducted into the Broadcast and Cable Hall of Fame, forming the company’s largest broadcaster owned by minorities and run by women in the United States.

Meanwhile, many young Americans are increasingly turning to social media for news, but a significant number of people (especially middle-aged and older) rely heavily on local, networked and wired for news and political information. Not to mention that social media is often loaded with misinformation and therefore a wide range of trusted media is important for truth and accuracy.

TEGNA has a reputation as one of the most influential and geographically diverse broadcasters in the United States, with 64 brands in 51 markets. By going private, more encumbered by quarterly performance pressures, and with financial and managerial support from Standard General, the new company will be able to invest in all aspects of local news operations, from people to technology.

The acquisition will also benefit aspiring minority journalists by creating new jobs at a company with a proven track record of inclusiveness and commitment to pay and benefits, Kim said. They will be able to do this not by creating a national monolith of national news, but rather by creating a bottom-up model where local news is prioritized so that it can continue to meet the targeted needs of local communities that depend on broadcast news.

Racial diversity is nothing new for Kim, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, but moved to Queens County, New York, one of the most racially diverse counties in the country when he was young. “I came here when I was five and grew up in Queens and spent my formative years growing up in Queens County,” Kim said. Queens County is known as one of the most diverse counties in America with approximately 150 different languages ​​spoken. “I really didn’t know anything different,” said Kim, who attended public schools. “More diversity is needed in the broadcast industry, and now I find myself in a position where I can make an impact.

“Bringing these diverse voices to the fore will not only better reflect the communities we serve, but it will also be good for business.

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