Day 2: How Word in Black builds power, influence and impact through a national network of Black publishers
4:05PM Jun 20, 2023
So now I would like to welcome to the stage to Bria Overs to discuss Word In Black and how Word In Black builds power influence and impact through its national network. So, Bria come on up!
Never know how short you are until you have to move on mic.
I started word and black, you know, oddly enough, like two months ago. And I cover personal finance, small businesses, financial literacy, and most importantly, the black community. Prior to word in black, I was a Special Projects Editor at Business Insider may also know it as insider, which I should also know is currently on strike. So you know, respect the picket line.
And that's not the point of this presentation. I'm here to talk about how worden black, you know, is building power, influence and impact through this national network of black publishers, which is very exciting for me. And just a little bit more background, this is actually my second time working with the black press. So I started my career there, left, tried something different. And now I'm back, which I think speaks to the power of black publishers and the black press.
There we go. So funnily enough word and Black was actually founded two years ago today. So Happy anniversary to us. Thank you, I know, it's kind of a big deal. As we know, a lot of news media doesn't last very long. So we're doing really well, which is exciting. So we currently work with about 10 publishers across the nation. And we're most of these are located in major cities like Dallas, Atlanta, DC, I mentioned these specifically, because they're my favorite cities, me being born in Atlanta family, and in Dallas, and me living here in DC. And so these publishers, when you look at them, and you look at their history, and combine them, they have centuries of publishing experience, and I think when we think about legacy media, which also has centuries of publishing experience, it's not always thought about or given due credit. So I do want to note that, and these are some amazing people that I get to work with every day. Alright, so this is our mission and vision. You know, we work with these newspapers to grow our combined audiences and to tell black stories. And we're also focused on digital transformation. A lot of these publishers, you know, started off with physical newspapers. And as we know, physical newspapers are dwindling, including here in DC, we don't see as many. It costs a lot to keep those in circulation. So we're trying to help them move into the more digital space, all of them have websites, but the internet is constantly changing all the time. For me, the perk with working with these publishers is that I get to hear from their editors and reporters every single week about what they're focused on for their respective area. I cover finance on a more national scale, as does everyone else at word and black. But it gives me a lot of ideas and thinking about like, how can I serve their audiences as well? And it also helps them figure out like, how can they further support us and the partnership overall. So I love this slide. We have an amazing group of journalists that are located across the country, we don't have like a central location, we're all over the place. La, we're in New York, we're here in DC. And it's a joy working with all of them. And we're focused on a few big topics, which is education, health, finance, of course, for me, and climate justice, which I think is becoming increasingly more important. As an editorial team, we're constantly looking for more ways to grow. As reporters, a lot of us are new, to reporting and to being journalists, we were student journalists, and now we're trying to be professional journalists. So you can see on the your right, I believe, or your left a few of the different different fellowships that we're all participating in, which is amazing. These are just a few of our stories on our site. And again, one of the best parts of our partnership is the fact that our stories that are on our site are also on the publisher site. So you may not find our work directly through us. Although Google Search is a big part of that SEO is a big part of that. For those that have been reading like the Washington informer their whole life. They can find my stories there and they can try to connect with me. It's noted that it's a word and black story as well so they can make their way to the site if they want to. But just having our stories, you know, shared in more than one place I think is a big a big perk. So currently, we have six newsletters, which means six times out of the week, someone's receiving an email from us, which is awesome. We started off with one. And now we have six to cover all of our verticals. And they did want me to note that we have over 46,000 subscribers of those newsletters, which is really great for a publication that's only been around for about two years. I did want to talk about revenue for a little bit. So in my last job, I worked on special projects, which was, you know, closely working with the revenue generation side of, of journalism. I don't think as an industry, we talk enough about revenue, like if you're in the business part, you talk about it all the time, but as a reporter, and as an editor, you don't you're not supposed to. They're supposed to be some separation there. But I think that as media is changing, this is becoming more and more important that everyone understand how this works. So we can have sustainable journalism. And I remember how important this is. So we're gonna block is actually a program, part of the local media Foundation, we're a 501 C three organization focused on helping local media companies, you know, reinvent business models for news. So we're trying out a few different ways. Our publication is using a variety of sources right now, including reader revenue, which is great, I think it's something everyone wants, but also philanthropy and branded content. So this is a great quote from Dr. John B. King, Jr. He worked with the Obama administration. And so you can take a second to read his quote, if you'd like.
Alright, moving on, read faster. So these are a few of our publishers, I believe, hanging out chit chatting about the industry, which is great to have everyone in one place, especially in a very remote work, I definitely miss an office environment, I'm sure a lot of us do, some don't, which is totally fine. But again, I just wanted to mention, as someone that has worked in the black press more than once now, it's such an honor to do it. Part of why I wanted to get into journalism was because I'm from Los Angeles, around the Compton Carson area, and we don't have a newspaper, we have a few, you know, media outlets that are trying to do journalism. But they don't get as much attention and they're not as reputable. But what the area does have is a lot of like, ethnic based journalism, ethnic base news. And, for me, it's incredibly refreshing that I don't have to spend so much of my time as a reporter trying to convince people that the stories are important, as someone that has had that experience previously, where I mean, I'm in meetings, fighting tooth and nail to explain to someone like this is a story that needs to be told, we have these goals, you know, as an industry to reach as many people as possible. But you can't do that. If you're not thinking about diversifying your audience. You can't hit a billion readers, if you're not thinking about what that billion actually consist of. You want your audience to reflect the nation, especially since we're all mainly US based publications. Diversity is incredibly important. You can't send people with no cultural knowledge into communities and expect them to tell the story well, at least not without support. And so I just wanted to note that in in this ever changing industry, how incredibly important the work that we're doing is, I feel it. And I hope that you all feel that too, and kind of think about it as you progress your own outlets or own programs and organizations. So I'd love to take questions if anyone has any. You're also welcome to download our impact report. Thank you so much. I also assume that if no one has questions, it just means I did a really good job explaining it. Because this happens pretty frequently.
I am Gene song with result Philly, I've been watching word and black over the couple of you two years. And one thing I'm really curious about is Have there been like CO reported pieces that with with members from Word in black, you know, because you are so spread out and like and how have you navigated that?
Yeah, that's a great question. And I'm still new. So I may not have the right answer, but I believe from what I've asked is that we haven't quite yet been able to do that because we try to give up fissures do give them some space to do their own reporting. But I think it's something that we definitely want to explore more, because there is so much overlap. And I think it's really important to take national stories and like localize them. So that is something that I think we're we're slowly moving toward. Yeah.
I'd love to understand how your collaboration moved from being sort of a cooperative of publishers to having a centralized newsroom. Like, how did that transition happen, actually, and how did the publishers decide to do that? Rather than like, you know, say, we're going to really focus on building capacity in those newsrooms?
Yeah, that's a great question. And I should have noted this earlier, that word of black came out of the George Floyd protests in his in his murder and unfortunate death. And my understanding is that we kind of noticed that there for one, there are a lot of local black papers, but there really aren't a lot of national, like, there's capital B, there's us and there are probably a few others that I'm not thinking of. And so my understanding is that they the US grants the night, Bloom lab, I believe, foundation, I could be butchering that. So please look at our website. It's very detailed. And that those kinds of like philanthropic work, that program itself kind of helped more than black exist, if that makes sense. And part of that was figuring out how to create a collaboration between all of the publishers and word in black. Again, I'm not probably explaining that the best. So let's chat more after. It's like indirectly in the right place. Yeah, any other questions? If not, feel free to grab me after this. Thank you