By Lucius Gantt
Shout out to all of the media professionals speaking out about how they feel White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to a briefing question posed by April Ryan, the Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks.
Ryan is an African American reporter and the Sisters went off for days on national news networks, social media and whatever other outlets they could access about how inappropriate Spicer’s comments were.
Well, I agree that Spicer’s comments were somewhat out of line, especially when he talked about Ryan “shaking her head” but veteran Black journalists have heard statements that were far worse from people representing government leaders.
In 1973, while working as a reporter-producer for the National Public Radio (NPR) Network in Washington, D.C., I was often assigned to cover events on Capitol Hill by my friend, my mentor and my boss, the late Rich Adams, a former Public Affairs Director at NPR. Adams worked at NPR from 1971-74.While there he produced the programs “Agronsky and Company” and “Inside Washington” at WUSA-TV. He also wrote a column called “EMS” for FIREHOUSE magazine.
When I covered national politics and politicians there was unity among Black journalists and media professionals. Washington’s African American journalists were organized and often met to help each other, recognize each other and it didn’t matter where we worked it just mattered if we were working journalists.
People that know me that are interested in Black media history sometimes ask me how it was back in the day and I would tell them funny stories how “trained” journalists and reporters like myself and others would tease Jim Vance and Ed Bradley about being former school teachers who wound up in front of TV station and network cameras because they could read while the real reporters produced their stories more often than not.
It was all in fun though. We loved each other regardless. We would socialize together and also do other things that shall remain unwritten and unsaid.
In my mind, today’s Black journalists are a new breed of Black journalist. Many of them think they are above independent Black writers, producers and professionals.
I feel like the Original O.G.’s started groups like The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) but we left when we feft white controlled media or media that has white shareholders took over the minds and purpose of the group that was started to bring us together.
How was that done? Ask your new breed journalists to investigate why. No, many wouldn’t know how or where to look.
NABJ was bamboozled like many other Black organizations and institutions. Who do you think contributes the most money to your beloved HBCUs, to the NAACP, to the Urban League and other groups?
I’ll give you a clue. Some of the main contributors to Black groups have blue eyes and blond hair.
When it became known that Black journalists met in local, statewide and national groups, newspapers, TV and radio stations and broadcast networks pounced on the media groups like bloodied jawed wolves pounce on a herd of sheep!
They weren’t looking for the best Black writers, the best Black broadcasters, the best Black media professionals or the best Black journalists.
The “best” Black journalists were the journalists, in most cases, that had the most media education, the most media experience and the ability to cover any story, anywhere about anybody!
The non-Blacks that gave money to NABJ and went to NABJ events went there to recruit employees. The kind of workers they wanted back in the day are the same kind they want today, the Black journalists that can be controlled by non-Black journalists!
I don’t want to say too much but I want you to know the truth whether my opinion is too much or not.
I don’t think too many Black journalists that work for Black owned media will get interviewed or hired by so-called major media but Black media will welcome Black journalists and hire Black journalists when they get fired from media owned by others.
And, don’t even go to sleep and dream that writers from The Final Call, The Black Panther Newspaper or any Black militant media would get hired by non-Black media even though many are superb journalists.
Anyway, sisters and brothers, support April Ryan and others media professionals of the day when they deserve your support.
When I covered the Capitol years ago, I had to get to the Capitol an hour early to ask any question my boss wanted me to ask because Press Secretaries would never allow the one Black man in the room to ask a question and sometimes I was that only Black man.
April, and others, keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t make yourself a news story get the news stories that your counterparts can’t get.
I didn’t care what Press Secretaries said to me or about me, while writing at The Associated Press in New York, I wrote three of the top 100 stories in the world in 1973 and years and years later I’m still good, in my mind anyway!
And, since I frequent Black neighborhoods and associate with Black people, I see Black women shaking their heads every day for one reason or another! (Buy Gantt’s latest book, “Beast Too: Dead Man Writing” onAmazon.com and from bookstores everywhere. Contact Lucius at www.allworldconsultants.net. And, if you want to,“Like” The Gantt Report page on Facebook.)
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