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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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