I’m going to take a slightly different approach to Monday night’s CNN Anderson Cooper Donald Sterling exclusive interview and ask a question that’s been bothering me ever since Sterling and V. Stiviano’s conversation was released.
What the hell is going on with the Black press in America?
Where is NABJ, BJASC, and NNPA? And for my less enlightened readers, Oprah, Robin, and Tavis Smiley, while I love them dearly aren’t the Black press. The Black press I’m speaking on is Black owned media—not a Black journalist on a mainstream media network.
So on an issue that is all about Black people, I’m asking myself, why is the Black press taking a backseat to the likes of ABC and CNN on a story that’s all about Black people?
Why are we just regurgitating what the mainstream media is reporting and reposting their video interviews on our websites?
Why isn’t the Black press demanding an interview with Sterling, particularly the Black press corps in Los Angeles whose numerous newspapers and Black owned KJLH-FM radio, are read and listened to far more by Blacks than either ABC or CNN.
I’d even go and step further and say that nationally, TV One and Roland Martin should have been all over this.
But it doesn’t stop there, because sometimes you have to shame people into doing the right thing.
Every time Sterling turned down an interview with a Black media outlet, that’d be a press release. I swear it would. Because if Donald Sterling can talk about Black people and his feelings for Black people with Anderson Cooper and Shelly Sterling can talk to Barbara Walters, then they both can certainly sit down with the Black press and do the same–especially given the allegations of racism against them both.
Walters and Cooper are easy interviews to do and don’t for a minute think that it’s done for the benefit of the Black community. The Black community that Sterling professed to love in his interview with Cooper doesn’t benefit at all from the advertising dollars raked in by CNN for it’s “exclusive” interview with him. Imagine if Stevie Wonder’s KJLH-FM in Los Angeles had scored the first interview with Sterling. It’s logical. Since 1992, KJLH-FM has hosted the only daily news and public affairs show (Front Page) in the Los Angeles market focused on and featuring African-Americans. Imagine the advertising dollars that would have gone to a Black owned radio station for an interview with Donald Sterling talking directly to Black people in Los Angeles.
Then there’s our newspapers, and we have quite a few of those in Los Angeles who are read religiously by the African-American community. From the Los Angeles Sentinel to Betty Pleasant’s Soulvine at the Wave Newspaper, I can tell you Blacks aren’t reading the Los Angeles Times daily, but they are reading their Black newspaper weekly. Again, no advertising dollars going there either for one of the biggest stories concerning Blacks in Los Angeles.
In fact, just to be clear, the ABC and CNN interviews were really done for the sponsors of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Sterling’s overall image with everyone else but Blacks because if they wanted Blacks to know how they felt they would talk to the Black media.
I’m tired of the Black press being sidelined by the likes of major networks on stories that clearly we should be leading on.
When we don’t stake our claim on stories and we just allow the quote unquote mainstream media to get all of the interviews and exclusives, it makes us look like we’re asleep at the wheel and we’ve got way too many talented Black journalists in Los Angeles and across the country for that to happen. Plus no shade, but on an issue like this there are certain questions that need to be asked that only someone who is Black can in the way it needs to be asked.
Trust me, CNN and ABC didn’t have any problem taking advertiser’s money for an interview with a racist and a racist’s wife. So neither should we. After all the Black press is not the NAACP, they are the news media.
The irony is that helping Anderson Cooper score another exclusive interview for CNN or giving Barbara Walters an interview her last week co-hosting The View doesn’t do anything to enhance their already high profile and stellar careers. But for a man who claims to love Black people and uses his money to better the lives of minorities, how much better would the career of a Black journalist have been had they scored the first interview with Sterling? Ah ha. Are you with me now? The same goes for any Black owned media outlet. Imagine if Sterling had met with the Black Los Angeles press corps first, not as a second thought. He’d have helped a whole lot of the Black people he loves so much, instead of just making the rich richer.
Until Donald and Shelly Sterling talk to the Black press, to me, everything they say is for show. Come and talk to Black people and tell us directly how you feel. The Black press needs to demand he do so.
Selected as one of ESSENCE Magazine’s 25 Women Shaping the World and one the Most Influential African-Americans in Los Angeles Under 40, on radio, television, and in print, Jasmyne Cannick is a politics, race, and pop culture social commentator who has cultivated a national following for telling it like it is on hard to deal with issues. She can be reached at www.jasmyneonline.com and on Twitter @Jasmyne.