In June, Sara Lomax-Reese told attendees as a keynote speaker of the annual Institute for Nonprofit News conference something that many people intuitively know, but don’t often crystalize into action:
“Black media—and my expertise is in Black media—is an endangered species. If there’s not a wholesale investment in reviving and supporting and providing resources to Black-owned media, it will go away.”
Lomax-Reese is President and CEO of Philadelphia’s WURD Radio, a REJ grantee. She’s been speaking up for Black-owned media for years; but recently, more people outside of Black Media have been listening.
As Lomax-Reese recognizes, the loss of Black-owned media is an unacceptable outcome of the systemic racism and economic turmoil that disproportionately affects BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). In order for the landscape to change, systems must change—including funding. “There has to be a wholesale investment on all fronts—on the philanthropic front, the corporate front, the individual front—to try and right-size and to ameliorate this system that has really seen Black media, Black businesses and Black people as less than, as not a good investment.”
The for-profit model, she said, is critical to addressing the wealth gaps in the U.S. “Economic empowerment in a capitalist society is fundamental,” Lomax-Resse told INN’s audience of nonprofit news executives and journalists. Watch the full talk below.
Want to learn more from Sara Lomax-Reese and how to support Black-owned media? Here are three more appearances that are worth your time:
In a panel about Black media hosted by the Center for Community Media at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, Lomax-Reese talked about the critical role WURD and Black media has played in covering the movement for civil rights in Philadelphia, and also the breadth of the Black community. “We don’t have a traditional newsroom but our hosts are very engaged in the community on many different levels,” she said. They are activists, historians and people with expertise in politics and social justice. In two-way talk radio, the station centers the voices of young people in the streets and provides the community a platform to express their range of feelings. “This is our wheelhouse all the time,” Lomax-Reese said. See panel discussion below: See panel discussion below:
- “I never thought I’d see the day where mainstream white-led news organizations were having really thoughtful and deep conversations about anti-Black racism,” said Lomax-Reese in the first episode of “Informed & Engaged” from the Knight Foundation. “It’s a little bit frustrating that there’s this, ‘Oh wow! We need to do something about this!’” Media organizations are just now coming to understand their role in systemic racism. They cannot repair the lack of trust from people of color, she said, because it was never there to begin with. “The ownership of a media organization matters.”
- In an interview with the BBC she explained the ways systemic issues have harmed Black-owned media: “There used to be this really powerful legacy of Black talk radio. There were absolutely way more African American talk stations, African American-owned stations in previous years.” Laws passed in 1996 led to many of these stations getting “gobbled up and kind of rolled into these massive, publicly-traded companies,” Lomax-Reese tells viewers.