James Roger Sharp, professor emeritus of history in the Maxwell School, wrote an op-ed for Syracuse.com titled “Democracy on trial: Can we save it?” Sharp is an expert in American political history, having researched and written extensively about the history…
Sustainability of the Black News Channel
Shelvia Dancy and Elliott Lewis, Professors of Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School and former freelance reporters for Black Entertainment Television (BET) and CNN offer their thoughts on the new Black News Channel.
We live in a media marketplace saturated with countless channels that target a demographic slice — whether gender, politics, or even interest in crime documentaries. Plenty of content gets ignored or overlooked by other news outlets — BNC is wise to cater to that. There has always been a demand for cable news among different audiences, and that is no less true for segments of African Americans. A network that focuses on content that is ignored or overlooked by other news outlets is feeding a starving audience. And plenty of African Americans are hungry for content that they don’t see covered anywhere else. That’s a void that BNC can step up and fill.
Giving voice to an underserved community certainly has merit and I hope they’re successful, but there are questions about the sustainability of such an operation. MSNBC and Fox News have their larger parent companies behind them and their local affiliated stations to draw content from. Will the Black News Channel have the resources to provide the kind of coverage it hopes to deliver? And will that generate a large enough audience? It’s a challenging environment to be launching such a venture. As you recall, Al Jazeera America came on the air with a lot of optimism and fanfare about providing something fresh and different as an alternative to the established cable news channels. They lasted only a few years.
For an interview with Profs. Dancy and/or Lewis, please contact Keith Kobland at firstname.lastname@example.org.