*Nikola Lashley is a British born journalist and an unlikely revolutionist.
This former BBC expat now living in New York is hell-bent on using her media industry experience to address black America’s lack of interest in international news and global current affairs.
“I can’t overstate the importance of global news,” explains Lashley, “we live in a globalized world. The political, economic, even environmental issues affecting foreign countries have a direct impact on US domestic policy. And because international issues tie in to domestic ones we need to find creative ways to make news stories that deal with global matters more relatable.”
It’s true that in recent years the consumption of online news has increased dramatically, Lashley says this is an ideal opportunity to curate international news content that resonates with black people.
“In my mind the solution is twofold, firstly international news stories need a deeper context, and audiences who are unfamiliar with say a militant Islamist uprising in Nigeria need to understand the story on multiple levels, not just on the level of the outbreak of a conflict, but to inform them about the timeline, the culture, and the key players involved. Secondly, this doesn’t mean longer stories it means as journalists we need to find smarter ways to package and showcase international news content.
Are you talking about dumbing down?
“Not at all, it’s crucial the intellectual component is maintained, this is about exposure, about raising people’s awareness and understanding about the world they live in so they can have an informed opinion and actively participate in their own democracy.”
Lashley has arrived in the U.S and is determined to bridge the gap in black media to ensure international news is given the same priority as celebrity and entertainment news.
“So the question that’s the elephant in the room,” laughs Lashley, “is can international news generate revenue? I say, yes, it can, absolutely especially if that news has a voice that an audience can identify with. Advertisers want content that works on their behalf, that means content that’s sharable and being talked about.”
But with shrinking budgets across the industry and even large networks struggling to fund foreign correspondents is Lashley’s mission a realistic one?
Lashley adds that for news sites it’s easy to post generic Associated Press stories but says in the long term all this means is that international news will look and sound the same. “Look you don’t necessarily need pots of money to produce original, credible international news stories, what you need is good old fashioned forward planning and knowledgeable journalists who themselves understand the different dimensions and perspectives of a world news story, and journalists who can cultivate contacts.“