Black media outlets in Pinellas County discuss the black narrative

Black media outlets came together to discuss coverage of the black community

By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – Last Sunday, June 23, The Tampa Bay Breakfast Club’s Brother John Mohammed, Jabaar Edmond and Carla Bristol hosted “Black Media Meetup: The Importance of Controlling our Narrative and Telling our Stories” – an event that gathered a number of the area’s African-American media outlets together at Rush Hour Chicken & Waffles.

The lively discussion celebrated the Breakfast Club’s first anniversary, and joined together members of The Weekly Challenger, The Burning Spear and The St. Pete Bulletin newspapers and radio stations 99 Jams WUJM “The Burg,” 99.1FM and Black Power 96 FM Radio.

Also in the house was On the Beat-St. Pete, who broadcasts on Facebook Live, radio personality Daisy Lane of the Daisy After Dark podcast, radio show and YouTube channel and filmmaker Cranstan Cumberbatch.

The group shared thoughts on where Tampa Bay’s black media stands on current issues and the steps the organizations are and should be taking to continue to push forward initiatives that are important to the area’s African-American community.

Education, voting, political representation at the local and national levels and community broadcasting were all topics of discussion.

St. Pete Bulletin’s Richard Love spoke of the need for more blacks in radio, and was seconded by Daisy Lane, who shared,  “A lot of us who want to start radio stations and go FM don’t know it’s only $900 for an FM antenna; you spend $900 in a month.”  She encouraged African Americans to look into building new community radio stations like Black Power 96.

“We have different interests as black people,” noted Black Power 96 FM’s general manager, Themba Tshibanda. “Understanding those interests and having those viewpoints allows you to recognize what you are, what you want to be, and who you want to do it with.”

Host Carla Bristol, whose Gallerie 909 Black Arts and Film Festival celebrated its third year in 2018, spoke to the value of multiple outlets in the community.

“Even if you all covered the same exact story, the perspective is always going to be different; there’s nothing against having multiple media covering the same thing,” Bristol said, encouraging all media outlets to continue to converge on community events and share different opinions.

On the Beat – St. Pete’s Sharlene Emmanuel agreed, sharing, “It’s about being whole and comprehensive, and you can’t do that if you have only one voice — you have to have multiple weigh-ins on a topic so that people can make a good informed decision.”

Cumberbatch, whose medium is film, weighed in saying, “We have an outlet, a medium, a viewing audience that wants to know more about our stories, our culture…it allows us to break a lot of stereotypes through our stories, to educate through our storytelling.”

Edmond, who co-wrote and co-directed Agent X with Cumberbatch, also spoke on the diversity of the black community, saying “we are not monolithic.”

The Bulletin’s Barbara Love also spoke on the importance of blacks in the south and north part of the county to learn more about each other in order to strengthen unity, knowledge, and power in Pinellas.

“African Americans in Pinellas County stretch all the way from Tarpon Springs to St. Pete,” asserted Barbara Love. “Not too many people in St. Petersburg knew that Tarpon Springs had the first African-American mayor who served two consecutive terms.”

Jake-ann Jones from The Weekly Challenger shared her concerns about the 2020 election and encouraged all the other outlets to work to bring awareness to the importance of voting.

The group affirmed the need to continue coming together for discussion, with a future possibility of building a media coalition to strengthen the community ties and political and social power within Pinellas County’s black community.

To reach J.A. Jones, email jjones@theweeklychallenger.com.

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