Creating My Own Unique Journalism

I have been thinking a lot lately about the future of journalism, and specifically how it fits into the new digital age. For the last few years I have been attending journalism and technology conferences, where I am told constantly that I need to be doing this social media application or using that tech gadget for reporting the news. I am happy to say that I am "teched up" and ready to take on the cyber news frontier.

But I am also ready to take this to another level professionally.

I have always had an entrepreneurial personality, and had the belief that if you are not getting opportunities from others, you should create your own opportunities. This is one of the reasons why I founded Global Wire Associates. Through my firm, I wanted to help create opportunities for others to take advantage of technology for furthering their own social justice objectives. I am happy to report that we have not only consulted with hundreds of activists worldwide through trainings and on our website in the last six years, but we have also launched a new e-waste awareness campaign.

In our most recent article on the site, we discussed how multimedia content producers are using online video to combat racial discrimination and stereotyping.

Filmmaker Issa Rae also felt that she wasn’t represented as a black woman in mainstream media. After reading yet another article about the lack of African-Americans onscreen, she decided to be the media and do her own online webisodes about being “awkward,” and, thus, the name of her series “The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl.”

“This is the future, especially for minority content producers on the Internet,” she said in a recent CNN interview. “This is the way to go. There is no gatekeeper. You can release whatever content you want. I think this is the best route to take, honestly.”
This interview made me think more about how I can create more of my own unique journalism. In the last few months, there have been complaints by journalists of color about the lack of diverse anchors in prime-time TV news. While I support the idea of increasing racial diversity in mainstream media, maybe the conversation needs to move towards how media professionals of color can utilize technology for telling their own stories.

The Internet has created so many opportunities for anyone to create their own media empire. There are a growing number of journalists who are going off the beaten path by using social media. Reading a post by British videographer Adam Westbrook and accompanying comments by Filipina journalist Prime Sarmiento have only pushed me to take my own journalistic endeavors further.

I am currently looking to create a way to get more funding for the videos I produce on my YouTube Channel, either through private donations, grant funding or some other business model. In the last couple of years I have fallen in love with videography, I am very interested in doing more social justice storytelling through this medium, but I need money to do it. I also like traveling, meeting new people, learning about different cultures while creating videos and, most importantly, doing more video production training for myself, so I am seeking financial opportunities here too. I have found that although I have had much success in working in mainstream media, nowadays, it is hard for me sometimes to pitch stories that don't have something to do with pop culture or entertainment. And there is a serious lack of mainstream media coverage of hard news issues that affect marginalized communities. I am hoping to fill in the gap with my online video news venture with the right help.

I know this will be a lot of hard work, but I am up for the challenge. I am hopeful about my unique route!

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UK Race Relations: Yesterday & Today

Two white men were found guilty and received life sentences for the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager stabbed to death by five white youths at a London bus stop in 1993. Nearly two decades on, the verdict may have brought some closure to a case that put a spotlight on racism and criminal justice in the United Kingdom. I was a teenager myself at the time and remember hearing a little about this case, but it wasn't until I viewed the BBC film The Murder of Stephen Lawrence when I got the whole story of the case and how England is so not "postracial."

My mother emigrated from Jamaica to England during the 1960s and some of her relatives still live in London's Hackney area. They all say that, unlike America, where race is discussed ad nauseum on a regular basis, any discussion about race in England was pretty much muted before the Lawrence case. When race was discussed, it was seen as the "immigrant problem." In 1968, politician Enoch Powell gave his infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech, criticizing the growing number of immigrants moving to the UK from Commonwealth countries.

Following the initial investigation in 1999, the five suspects were not convicted. It was believed at the time that Lawrence's murder was not only racially motivated, but also the acquittal was due partially to institutional racism within the Metropolitan Police. Later that year the Macpherson Report confirmed these findings, stating that the case was "one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain." Although the Race Relations Act of 1968 passed and has since been superseded by the Race and Religious Hatred Act of 2006, racial tensions provoked by Powell's speech continued to have a lasting impression for years to come. This could be seen through the many race riots over the years. The most recent London riots that spread nationwide are believed to have been racially provoked by the death of Mark Duggan at the hands of the police.

Just last week the family of Anuj Bidve, an Indian student who was shot in the head and killed while walking with his friends on Boxing Day, accused British authorities of racism due to delays in handling the investigation and return of his body to India.

[Bidve's family] have accused the police of failing to contact them to inform them of their son's death – they only found out when his friends started to contact them through Facebook – and of neglecting the case because it was the festive season.

The delay in getting Bidve's body home has infuriated family members, who say the British authorities were more concerned about Christmas and the new year festivities than in helping the family observe their traditions.

"It is unacceptable to us," said Rakesh Sonawane, Bidve's brother-in-law... "We still have a lot of faith in the UK authorities and the police, but they have to help us more. They have to help us to believe again that Britain is not a racist place."
As I have said here before, the more things seem to change, the more things remain the same.

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