Black News For Real This Time?

The AfroSpear is all over this story about former Republican US Congressman JC Watts is launching a black news network in conjunction with Comcast. Now, JC and I don’t usually agree but I am one-thousand-percent behind the brother if he can pull this off. It’s been tried before and has crashed and burned.

Here’s the story:

Former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts and Comcast to launch black news network

By R. Thomas Umstead
Multichannel News

(April 15, 2008) Washington D.C.-based Black Television News Channel (BTNC) announced Tuesday it has reached a multi-year carriage agreement with Comcast Cable for distribution in several of the MSO’s urban-based systems beginning in 2009.

The network, created by former U.S. congressman J.C. Watts Jr., will launch in 2009 and will provide original news programming with a distinctively African-American perspective, according to a network press release.

The network would be the first cable service to offer 24-hour news targeted to African-Americans. Prior attempts to launch a full-time news channel have failed, mostly due to the high cost of developing news. Neither African-American targeted Black Entertainment Television nor TV One offer daily news shows, instead relying on short news briefs throughout the day.

“Our unique and vast content partnerships with African American newsmakers will provide our viewers live access to the stories and people in whom our viewers have a special interest,” said Watts in a statement. “With this agreement, Comcast continues to demonstrate its commitment to working with independent programmers with diverse points of view.”

Comcast representatives could not be reached for comment at press time.

Hopefully, JC will keep it real and not pull a Robert Johnson and turn a black interest cable network into ignorance and softcore porn. Because for black snobs everywhere it is our dream to turn on the television and watch intelligent discussion on black culture, black issues, politics, the black diaspora, blacks in Europe and African issues. To be a shining beacon of blackness throughout the world.

Sometimes as black Americans we get so caught up in our own dramas that we forget that comparatively we have a better representation of ourselves in American culture. I can remember reading an article about blacks in France who were amazed that in the states blacks had their own universities and major businesses. We have a lot of issues we need to handle at home, but we shouldn’t forget other blacks abroad need to see a reflection of themselves on television as well. (So hire some black journalists worldwide, JC. Have a special international news segment. I’d watch it.)

But that’s my dream. Diverse, multi-faceted news with the voices of people of color telling the stories and giving some opinion. Now I don’t want to see this become a sort of Balkanized, ghetto news where it’s blacker than black 24/7. If major news is happening, Black News should be there. If there’s a huge story, Black News should cover it. We shouldn’t “segregate” our news coverage.

My fingers are crossed. And if it happens, I will be knocking on JC’s door with a resume and a headshot going, “I’m ready to get my news on!”

16 thoughts on “Black News For Real This Time?

  1. Amen! I desperately want to see educated, professional African Americans on television discussing issues affecting us. Also! It needs to be understood that there is diversity within the black community–not everyone swears by lil’ wayne. So we need to be portrayed in our many, diverse, and beautiful lights. BET has failed us in more ways than I care to list right now. BTW: what happened to black family network? They actually had good newscasts and shows.

  2. Hey SnobNeeded a story today.This sounds good, but I have just a few reservations.First, who owns Comcast Cable (they seem to be taking over the cable market – does it = big corp); I hope it won’t be black news presented soley from the black conservative perspective and I agree with you and hope that programming won’t be limited to the 18-25 market of partygoers.”Sometimes as black Americans we get so caught up in our own dramas that we forget that comparatively we have a better representation of ourselves in American culture.”Agree, but there are many here in America, blacks, who don’t know what we are doing and could use this as a guide and for encouragement to succeed.I hope this news will be presented by all the different views and hues.

  3. Sounds like a noble venture and enterprising capitalistic venture for his pockets. This is a free market economy and monetizing our own is part of the American Dream. I think JC Watts however is a lot different that Bob Johnson. I am however doubtful it, the venture, can survive though. Eventhough there is a culture of self-congratulation and self-promotion of everyone and their grandma wanting to be heard and seen (blogs), we don’t have the tract record of stabilizing and securing a long-term news source that can intersect all of our sub-cultures. Tom Joyner’s show has the biggest market of loyal followers but that is an entertainment driven format with doses of news framed by their shows viewpoints before it reaches the masses. I can’t see how Black sourced news will hold our own attention to fill a network when we live to mimic and entertain the masses for their approval, shock value, or blessing. Remember when BET had Lead Story and the Bev Smith show, only a small number of people watched. BET News was axed. I didn’t watch that ever. I could not get down with Jackie (what’s her name?). But even entertainment shows like Arsenio, Sinbad, and the others faded. I am more hopeful in seeing him pull this off. I think that he may have been bitten by the Obama bug of interest in politics which I think may fade after the elections because in our communities politics and civic understanding is very primitive. We look at politics in the drama sense and not the structure of how it fits in our daily lives. Now that would be hot if JC led a political policy education show for Blacks. I think people would watch to learn so that they can know what they quietly and shamefully don’t understand about politics to really be engaged with it in their everyday lives. I don’t think that people are just lazy in not wanting to care about politics…it’s just very difficult to understand if you don’t know how it really works systematically.I do think that if Obama wins, Black will be vogue again like it was in the 70’s and 80’s for a minute…a quick minute. Because we are in a regressive state as a society/sub-demographic of the American Populace, only but so many people will want to watch and learn of our decay as news entertainment. I say “entertainment” becuase the news is entertainment no matter how high-brow it is supposed to be.I think there are innovative formats that should include information and news of other ethnics and how they pertain to Blacks but as far as Black-only interest formats, it continues to marginalize us as aliens within the citizenry. Hell, that is what we are but I would not want to be that marginalized in a media format of 24 hour programming.

  4. ms. martin: I’d gather that because it would be a news network marketed to African Americans even JC knows that he couldn’t make it overtly conservative. It would have to be moderate to work. Most black people aren’t Republicans so if things turn overtly pro-business and anti-government he’d have trouble developing any sort of a viewership.And I’m slightly obsessed with international relations. So, yeah, I want to see black America’s issues get represented, but I almost went into International Relations in college. So that’s me wanting everything.andrea: I don’t think JC, while being as pro-capitalist as any American, would want to do BET, part deux. The guy can be an ass, but he doesn’t appear to be that kind of ass. He has some pride. And how would he ever live that shit down? Sure, Bob Johnson can sleep at night like a baby, but he has no soul. He’s the “Mr. Burns” of black television. Our Sumner Redstone. I think for any “black interest” network to survive diverse revenue streams will be a must. So I don’t know if JC and Comcast can pull off 24 hour news. I’m not suggesting they put reruns of “The Parkers” on (God no), but they could easily pad the news with talk shows, commentary, some entertainment news, fashion and style reporting and something that is a marriage of “David Letterman” and “Jon Stewart” to come on every night at 11 p.m. They could get Chris Rock to come back, or kiss Dave Chappelle’s rear from here to eternity.I think if you could balance that out with news you would get a variety of black people watching (young, old, male, female) and a degree of non-blacks if it doesn’t feel like some “chitlun’ circuit” version of Cable TV.

  5. [quote]Now, JC and I don’t usually agree but I am one-thousand-percent behind the brother[/quote]Black Snob:Just so that I can understand where you are coming from with this little jewel that you added into your story….could you specify a few specific policy differences that you recall having with JC Watts that caused you to insert this?Thank you in advance.

  6. Ms Martin Said:[quote]I hope it won’t be black news presented soley from the black conservative perspective[/quote]Question Ms. Martin – do you ever recall yourself thinking, prior to seeing an event sponsored by Tavis Smiley, The NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus or Danny Glover…..”I hope it won’t be an event with speakers presented solely from a Black LIBERAL perspective!”? Thus my question to you is – are you looking for BALANCE and OBJECTIVITY……or are you looking for a show that falls in line with the perspective that most of the other Black themed political artifacts present? This is the defense of and promotion of the BLACK POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT. Since this is implicitly liberal and Democratic these operatives function as “Democratic Feet on the street” in our community where no White Democrat would dare venture by himself.If this ONE BLACK SHOW ventures on the “right side” of the fence and stands against the 100’s of other Black talk radio shows/ the perspectives of Black DJs on urban radio/ the various Black newspapers/ the various Black opinion writers in majority owned news papers and of course – the Black blogs……….is this ONE submission that is “right of center” really such a threat to you?What if JC Watts has the perspective of “Whatever political perspective is dominating the Black political consciousness….despite it being more powerful today than ever in our history as free people it has FAILED to deliver upon the key points that my people CLAIM to be advocating for. Thus for me – my advocacy is not about “Conservative or Liberal”…..I am about asking the question “Is that which my people are popularly beholden to WORKING or is it FAILING TO WORK as promised”?If he took this disposition HOW COULD ANY BLACK PERSON who is interested in ACHIEVING SUCCESS rather than just DEFENDING THE IDEOLOGY that is most comfortable with them during their time of aggrievement be against his inspection of that which is popular among his people?Doesn’t all of this boil down to “What are you seeking to accomplish? Are you sure of that?”

  7. constructive feedback: My main issues with Watts revolve around his embrace of the conservative Christian platform.Watts has an anti-abortion rights, anti-gun control and anti-gay rights voting record. And, this shouldn’t shock you, these are the same issues I have with about 75 percent of all black people, regardless of political affiliation.I think we’re incredibly closed-minded.I think Watts and I only have wiggle room on the gun control because I’m for the right to own guys, I just think something is HORRIBLY awry when Mexican Drug gangs find it more cost and hassle free to buy their weapons in the US and take them to Mexico to beat the tar out of the Mexican military that we are backing to stop the drug war.If we’re talking about black issues, Watts and I just have different POVs. I think the government serves a purpose given that in a free market economy the public can be easily abused without proper oversight (lead tainted toys from China, heart medication that kills, etc.) Watts is a moderate when it comes to other social issues outside of the Christian conservative platform. To me Affirmative Action and public education are up for debate and revision. I mean, please Jesus! Discuss them! I think he sometimes makes the mistake of thinking the market can fix everything, but he’s no Libertarian. I haven’t heard him call for the death of the IRS and the Dept. of Education yet.I don’t see his views on the core “black” issues of jobs, poverty, education and health care as “dangerous” in any sort of way. We both think Affirmative Action is wanting, but for different reasons. Since we’re both guess, God only knows who’s right. I could go into what I like and don’t like about free market economy (there’s lots of money, yeah! There’s lots of money, booo!), but my views on this area can be negotiable and are often relative depending on the situation.So, that was my long way of telling you I’m pro-gay and pro-abortion rights. I think gun control is necessary to a degree. And I also don’t like it when black people do their infighting in public, so the whole “race hustling poverty pimps” thing and the constant bickering with the CBC annoyed me. I didn’t mind that he had an opposing view. I just don’t like it when it goes public because then the CBC looks all nutters screaming, “Judas” and JC looks all nutters to the point that bigots use his complaints about black politicians as a banner to wave screaming, “See! We told you those darkies were too crazy to lead! That black guy just said so!”But I’m pro-free speech and pro-Democracy so I guess I’m tangentially pro-black people fighting in public even if it gives the bigots more fuel to throw on us.And that also means I’m tangentially pro-BET even though I hate the thing so much. I protest it the best way I know how, via the free market. I don’t watch.

  8. SnobI agree with you on the international emphasis, I just meant that there is still a lot to be learned about black Americans by black Americans right here in the states and it surely wouldn’t hurt to add an international component to the mix.

  9. Constructive:I guessed you overlooked the following portion of my comment:”I hope this news will be presented by all the different views and hues.”

  10. I would love to see this happen! it would be an excellent opportunity to provide a connection worldwide to people of African descent and discuss all news and global issues.

  11. Ms. Martin pointed out that there is an obvious elephant in the room about “Blacks not knowing a certain type of Black”. I want to thank her for eluding this. Cobb wrote about it in bits too but no one has taken it on anthropolically. And it is something I noticed of a photo of Michelle Obama’s South Carolinian family members in how no one touched on the obvious differences in her and those relatives. I say that because, I hail from the deep South and those people are marginalized eventhough all roots start from there on the slave boats, unless you just happen to be a very small exception that were free immigrant blacks or serfs that came via New York during colonialism or via Florida or New York during the opening of borders (America’s solicitation for immigrants of Europe).I find it utterly peculiar how no one picked up on such intricacies during this election season. I think a lot of native Southerners who has rose through some grace of economic mobility are a bit torn because they know they are neglecting home and marginalizing it themselves with being a part of the idea in solidifying urban Blacks are of more importance and need. The Wal-Mart culture and the “I want to move to Atlanta to be a star” culture has tainted the culture of the Black South. And most twenty and thirty-something year-olds that really did not spend summers in the Dirt Road South are very out-of-touch with their own lineage’s native culture because of commercial urbanization of country towns and the fact that by the time a lot of them visited the South, it looked different in looking mildly similar to urban centers although they were still run like small Southern towns with governing that did not change in style. Blacks just became figureheads of pictorial importance while the Brain Drain dehydrated the Southern homelands of so many Black Family lines.Ms. Martin was hitting on something. I wonder if she sees what I see.Oh…and yeah…I am one of those that emigrated to the North and contributes to the Southern Black Brain Drains. That’s a different story in explaining how my home did not and does not support it however unless you play the part of ceremonial superficiality in being a Greek alumn doing token community service or you campaign for importance in a Southern Black Church as an oligarch. So that is something that is of issue. I am guilty but I don’t fit in in my Southern hometown becuase the top is run by superficial pageantry of importance. No true exercise of intellectual engagement is warranted or requested. I’m an alien in my Southern hometown wanting to be more than a pageant contest in one of the many Black America pageants of nothingness.

  12. andrea: I see your point. Both my parents are from the south and my mother from the rural south in particular, so I spent a lot of summers in Newport, Arkansas. There is a huge gulf between those who live in the cities versus who lives in the rural areas. My mother’s a big family person, so she always told me how she wished she could have raised my sisters and I around our much larger family, but there were no jobs and no future for her in her hometown. There is a big disconnect between the lives of country and city blacks. I dated a man in California who was “scared” to go to the south because he thought the whole region was like the movie “Mississippi Burning.” I met people from Chicago who thought black people from St. Louis were “country,” and I had countless classmates and friends who talked rapturously about “moving to Atlanta.”But this isn’t much different from usual class divisions. Southern life has routinely been both bashed and romanticized by American culture, white and black. On one hand, it’s ignorant and barbaric. On the other it’s leisurely and seductive. To me, Arkansas is Arkansas. It’s a beautiful place, it’s an ugly place, the people there are nicer than the people in St. Louis. It’s peaceful but there isn’t a damn thing to do. It has it’s problems but so does every place else. And like blacks in the inner city, black life in the rural south is isolated and lacks decent education. I can see how it would be very easy for someone without immediate southern connections to just view everything below the Mason-Dixon as either “Gullah-Backwater-Klanville” or “Atlanta, the Chocolate City.”

  13. [quote]I guessed you overlooked the following portion of my comment:”I hope this news will be presented by all the different views and hues.”[/quote]Ms. Martin – actually I didn’t over look the entirety of your comments.I asked you if you can recall pointing out your concerns, for example, that Tavis Smiley might have a line up of like-minded ideologues at his annual “Tavis And Friends” conference?If Mr. Watts’ channel is too skewed to the right I have little doubt that the same Internet crowd that got the Fox News/CBC debate canceled with heavy coordination provided by the left wing “Color Of Change” group will spring back into action and work to shut down Watts……..regarding Thug Gangsta Rap that is actually doing damage within…..I am still waiting on a word from them.

  14. [quote]And I also don’t like it when black people do their infighting in public, so the whole “race hustling poverty pimps” thing and the constant bickering with the CBC annoyed me. I didn’t mind that he had an opposing view. I just don’t like it when it goes public because then the CBC looks all nutters screaming, “Judas” and JC looks all nutters to the point that bigots use his complaints about black politicians as a banner to wave screaming, “See! We told you those darkies were too crazy to lead! That black guy just said so!”[/quote]BlackSnob:I won’t comment on your points of disagreement with Watts regarding his “Pro-Life” and “Traditional Marriage” stances.If you evaluate interchange between the two recent Black Republicans and the CBC – it is clear to anyone using objective inspection that the CBC operates as an adjunct to the Democratic Party. Though this tact might be POPULAR among most Blacks the organization still loses all pretenses of being a “non-partisan” organization that promotes the Black best interests exclusively and the ‘Democratic party’ interests secondarily. In fact many of our people are of the view that a “Powerful Democratic Party means that the Black Best interests are served best”. There are too many cities in this nation right now where this is the case and which proves this notion to be a lie.I would be far more interested in some third party inspecting the popular policy initiatives that is held dear in order to PROVE that they have indeed translated into the best interests of Blacks.It might be possible that Mr. Watts grew tired of being impugned and stabbed in the back by certain intolerant people who cannot accept that there are SOME BLACK FOLKS who don’t think as they do. For me it is not a matter of being “right or wrong”, but a matter of being able to DEMONSTRATE that your policies have indeed benefited our community using organic methods absent increasing dependency.At least Mr. Watts, unlike Mr. Franks a few years before him, chose to turn down membership in the CBC because of the clear ideological divide and differing agendas that each faction had. Why allow the “color commonality” as a pretense for common methodologies? Regarding your last statement about “Darkies not being able to lead” – sadly, the truth or falsity of this should be more in the space of judgment held by BLACK PEOPLE rather than worrying about what “White folks will think of us”. It is ultimately the Black community that stands to benefit from or who is negatively impacted by the skills and effectiveness of the elected representatives that they choose. The White folks who are “looking into these districts” don’t ultimately decide who will sit in the seat of representation.I hope that Mr. Watts chooses to have a line up that shows our greatness as a people; then has us to clarify our ultimate goals; then asks the question ” Is what we are popularly doing today EFFECTIVE at moving us toward this goal”?I don’t like Black Republicans who advocate their party over what is fact any more than I like a Black Democrat who does the same. There are no inherent attributes of any of these parties that a PEOPLE who is interested in organic progression cannot adopt into their culture and move forward without principally using the American political system as their vehicle forward.

  15. constructive feedback: We’ll the “darkies not fit to lead” remark was my attempt at humor on how both white AND black people respond to these scenarios, which is very, very negatively. All meaningful debate stops and it turns into some social experiment to measure the worth of black people by regardless of the fact that there are 22 million of us and what happens between Watts and the CBC should just be that, but people did not take it that way.I’ve written before that if there were more political parties it would be to the advantage of black people. Neither party wants this (of course), but it’s the truth.In St. Louis, the Dems have run the city since the 1920s. While they may be progressive and pro-union, they aren’t progressive or pro-union for black people. They’ve done everything they could to undermine black political power in the city. Even having the Republicans on semi-even footing with the Dems in St. Louis would help. The Dems would actually need the black vote to get elected then.So I understood why Watts felt the way he did. Being called a self-hating, duplicitous Negro is treated as a far greater sin by our people than say … being a thuggish boxer who is accused of rape and serves prison time. Or an R&B singer who made his own hardcore pornography with a 13 year old.I’d argue that Mike Tyson is a 1000 percent worse than JC Watts, but people often don’t put these sorts of things into any perspective. Especially when the only victims are other black people.

  16. AHH LAWD SWEET JESUS! PUHHLEEEASSSE LET THIS PASS, I mean honestly as long as opening segments dont chime in on fifty cents latest beat I will be all over this. And please can we leave the roca wear at ome while at the desk and get some cool tv’s in the background that make it look like we’re getting in news stories from all over. And can we rip off the Chris Matthews Hardball College tour and do it at our universities with an array of vital guest like Nancy Peloci to Cornel West so we can say we welcome all news and we want to know what WE CAN DO ! Im just looking over my cover letter faster than the Buffy the Body commercials air o BET!

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