Black News Channel Offers Outlet to Underrepresented Voices

In Summary

This article was submitted by Sydney Ross. Ross is a student at North Carolina A&T State University and a finalist in BNC's inaugural HBCU Journalism Project.   

Journalists of color have often helped newsrooms produce coverage that amplifies the voices of communities underrepresented in mainstream news reports. 

The Black News Channel (BNC) is the nation’s first news network dedicated to producing 24 hours of content devoted to sharing the perspectives of the Black community. 

Nayyera Haq, chief foreign affairs correspondent for BNC and co-host of the station’s “World Tonight” series, said in a recent BNC virtual day discussion for HBCU journalism students that the network is helping to bring a broader sense of representation into the media industry.

“Facts are facts, but our experiences matter,” Haq said. “Representation matters. It’s not just about quotas; it’s about the lens you bring to the conversation.”

Representation has been a part of BNC’s mission since its launch in February 2020. BNC is built upon providing a voice to the voiceless and presents culturally specific coverage of the Black community that has been overlooked by the media industry. 

This year, the network is hosting its first HBCU Journalism Project, which aims to provide HBCU journalism students with a means to expand their knowledge and grow as journalists. 

Students will participate in a process to earn a position as one of four HBCU Journalism Project leaders, who will be offered paid summer internships with BNC. The process includes four steps completed during the fall semester. Project leaders will be announced in mid-December. The program allows participating students to interact with some of BNC’s on-air professionals, as well as have their work reviewed by BNC’s editorial team. 

BNC and its streaming site, BNC GO, held the first virtual day as a part of the project. The discussion was led by Haq and three of the network’s other television hosts — Charles M. Blow, Jimmy Marlow and Michelle Fisher. The session aimed not only to inspire future Black journalists, but to also build relationships with them and provide them with networking opportunities.

The discussion centered around questions submitted by participating HBCU students. Questions varied from race relations in America in the media to how gender norms play a role in the advancement of today’s media.

Each panelist reminded students to be their authentic selves. That is what Fisher, host of the “Morning Hype” on BNC GO, loves about her job.

“One of the highlights of working within an organization like this is the freedom to be myself on air,” Fisher said. “I love that I have the opportunity to just be myself as a Black woman on air and not feel that I’ll be looked at differently.” 

Haq led the conversation by addressing how Black media has played an important role in influencing the overall landscape of the media industry. She emphasized the importance of the thoughts you bring to the conversation. She also noted that Black journalists and media have helped newsrooms evolve nationwide and become more diverse. 

Blow, host of BNC’s “Prime,” said that Black journalists have an equal responsibility to fill the void in mainstream media. 

“Black media, meaning media designed for, aimed at [and] tailored to Black people is a particular kind of media,” Blow said. “If you are a science reporter at a mainstream news outlet, your Blackness is less important to the subject you cover than it would be if you were covering social issues. However, there are still biases that exist within science as it exists within any other subject area. That allows you to point that out when it comes up.”

The panelists said they are confident that BNC and BNC GO will continue to grow and expand their impact.  The HBCU Journalism Project is just one part of that process. 

BNC and its streaming site, BNC Go, are available on cable, satellite and streaming services, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Tubi. Visit BNC’s website for more information about the station and the HBCU Journalism Project.

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