By Evelyn Mateos
Ten Black newspapers have joined forces to create Word In Black, a platform to “amplify the Black experience by reporting, collecting and sharing stories about real people in communities across our country,” according to its website.
Word In Black consists of a newsletter and website (wordinblack.com) that publishes content from the 10 participating newspapers, which include: New York Amsterdam News, The Atlanta Voice, Houston Defender Network, The Washington Informer, The Dallas Weekly, The Afro, Michigan Chronicle, The Seattle Medium, The Sacramento Observer and St. Louis American. It also publishes original content.
The initiative is part of the Fund for Black Journalism, founded last year by the Local Media Association (LMA) and the same 10 newspapers to support coverage and create solutions around issues that affect Black communities.
LMA originally received funding from the Walton Family Foundation to do stories about COVID-19 and education. The idea was to create a national site to house the 10 newspapers’ stories about the issues. That site became Word In Black, which soft-launched in May and covers racial equity, K-12 education, police reform, healthcare disparities, social justice, politics, opinion, sports and LGBTQ.
Nick Charles, project manager for the Fund for Black Journalism and managing director for Word In Black, said the initiative’s primary goal is to help these newspapers “survive and thrive.”
“There over 230 Black-owned newspapers still in this country — here we have 10 of them that still put out a hard copy every week — and what most of them need is a real smooth and efficient transition to digital products,” he said.
In addition to LMA and the Walton Family Foundation, the Facebook Journalism Project, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Google News Initiative and the Local Media Consortium have also funded the project. When E&P spoke to Charles, he could not share much about what kind of reaction Word In Black had yet. However, he did say that the newsletter had already received 1,200 subscribers. The objective is to build a subscriber base of 500,000 in the next two years.
Moving forward, Charles said that he and the 10 newspapers are pursuing more funding and digital tools. He hopes that this will help create a product that will interest the public and make them want to contribute.
In today’s media industry, collaboration has become common. Charles said that although it is not always easy, it is vital.“[These] 10 different publishers sometimes have different mindsets, different politics, and they live in different parts of the country. So, people in Texas don’t have the same ideas about a lot of things that people in New York may have,” he said. “But their affection and love for communities are what binds them. Collaboration is going on because people realize that to survive and to meet our mission as journalists, we have to band together.”