Black Media

Media targeted toward people of color, specifically black Americans, is struggling. Most media consumers recognize the decline, but the Pew Research Center has confirmed it. Three of Pew’s researchers, Emily Guskin, Amy Mitchell and Mark Jurkowitz, examined several print, radio, TV and digital publications aimed at black audiences. The outlook is dim. Pew concluded 2012 was a “difficult year at best” for black news sources, including BET, The Root and Jet magazine.

Here are some of the lowest statistics:

  • Only one African-American newspaper, The New York Amsterdam News, increased its circulation in 2012. All of the others, including The Philadelphia Tribune and the Chicago Defender, lost advertising revenue and readers.
  • News for the black American community is decreasing. Only one forthcoming network, Soul of the South, incorporates news. However, Soul of the South has not aired and there is no definitive premiere date. BET attempted “Don’t Sleep!” but it’s on hiatus after garnering less than 50 percent of the viewers from the same timeslot in 2011.
  • Some black magazines are in decline. Jet’s circulation decreased by 9.1 percent and shifted from a weekly to a biweekly publication.
  • The Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Michael Baisden Show were both casualties in a radio merger in New York, the largest radio market.

Despite those dismal statistics, there were some positive findings in the report.

  • TVOne partnered with NBC News to cover politics, including the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and President Obama’s second inauguration.
  • Two new cable channels for black Americans are emerging. Magic Johnson is debuting Aspire, a network catering to African-American culture, and there’s also Revolt, a music channel.
  • Digital spaces are growing. Clutch, Huffington Post Black Voices and The Grio increased their readership by significant percentages.
  • Ebony magazine’s monthly circulation grew.
  • Oprah’s OWN reached new heights after a turbulent start. Pricing for national advertising for “Oprah’s Next Chapter” reached $50,000 per spot during the Lance Armstrong interview according to MediaDailyNews. The Queen of Daytime Talk also garnered 3.5 million viewers for her interview with Whitney Houston’s family

The state of black media may have declined in 2012, but with the release of several new networks and a slew of black American journalists elevating their game, 2013 seems promising.

Click here for the full report from the Pew Research Center.

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  • Mars Blackmon

    Hmmm I know Oprah owns it but is OWN really ‘Black Media’?

  • Seems to me that black media is changing how it presents it’s self as opposed to declining.

  • omfg

    the fact is that traditional media outlets are struggling more now, not just the black ones.

    everything is online. it would be cool if someone like constance white started an online black women’s magazine. look at jane pratt and xojane.com. constance was at ebay so she’s no stranger to this form of media.

    • The Artist

      Yes. all media outlets are struggling…Several of those black media outlets could stand to use some tweaking. As for” Don’t Sleep” , BET didn’t this show justice. I love TJ but I think he is better suited in front of a prompter and why was it on so late at night.

    • Katie

      Your comment is nice – but’s it’s not that easy. You can’t compare Jane Pratt to Constance White or any other Black woman – it will not be equal.

      Jane has resources and investors who are happy to take a chance on her. She ran a successful magazine for years (backed by investment and publisher)

      Black women in media do not get funding to start anything. Even right now if Constance or anyone else tried to start an online/or print magazine – they wouldn’t get far. Look at Cocoafab.com …ex-EIC of Essence (before Constance) new site. It is trying to be noticed and get some market share online but is finding it very difficult. Sadly, I am guessing it won’t do that well, because they don’t have the money or investment like a Jane Pratt or anyone else white that gets investors or huge donations to start this sites/magazines.

      Example: Clutch is owed/operated by Dede Sutton – she started Clutch in 2002 (in her early 20’s) but it’s never really kicked off then she took some time off and went back to corporate America and saved her own money to restart Clutch as an online magazine. She has been open to some type investment for years, but knew it would never happen, so Clutch is still paid out her own pocket. Everything on this site is payed for by her…with no help. I know she struggles to keep Clutch up and running, but we wouldn’t know that.

      Black media is general needs support, not tearing down. They need money.

  • Huffington Post Black Voices is NOT a source of black media.

  • irdris

    tv one is jointly owned by comcast and radio one, bet is owned viacom.