‘FinTech’ Companies Are the ‘Wild, Wild West’

Candidate Cites Lack of Blacks on Editorial Board

Thought Leaders Debate Response to Trump

Disconnect Between National Journalists, Citizens?

RTDNA Director: War on Press Is Damaging

Where Is Solidarity With Arrested Journalist?

A Story of Brotherly Caring

Tirico to Succeed Costas as Olympics Host

Roland Martin Answers Barbs on School Choice

Anthony Marquez, A.P Bureau Chief, Dies at 55

Short Takes

African Americans and Latinos are three times more likely than whites to use mobile as their primary form of broadband. (Credit: Shuttercock)

African Americans and Latinos are three times more likely than whites to use mobile as their primary form of broadband. (Credit: Shuttercock)

‘FinTech’ Companies Are the ‘Wild, Wild West’

When entrepreneurs and policymakers interested in diversity gathered in Washington on Tuesday, they talked about computer technology — and about how people of color should be using it not just to send tweets and to view more videos, but also to make money.

They discussed “FinTech,” shorthand for “financial technology,” and it was presented as a way for African Americans, in particular, to recoup losses from the recession of 2008 and 2009, from mortgages that went underwater and from other business setbacks.

Just last month, Seaway Bank and Trust, for decades the largest black-owned bank in Chicago, was shut down by regulators, leaving just one black-owned bank in the city. Other African American investors could not be found to save it, and an Indian American-owned company took it over. The development, considered symptomatic of a larger trend, hardly made news outside of Chicago.

Kelvin Boston, who hosts “Moneywise,” a financial advice television program on public television, invoked the African American unemployment rate, which stands at 10.5 percent, at the 8th Annual Broadband and Social Justice Summit & FinTech Empowerment Forum, staged in Washington by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, known as MMTC.

“There aren’t enough jobs to put everybody back to work. We need to create jobs,” Boston said. FinTech creates jobs. People will be visiting their doctors online. They are already banking online.

To be sure, there were other developments at the conference, which was attended by all three members of the Federal Communications Commission along with venture capitalists, social reformers and some past FCC members. It was where business reporters needed to be.

  • MMTC President Kim Keenan reminded attendees that Comcast Cable is accepting proposals for two substantially African American-owned, independent networks that it will launch in select Comcast markets by January 2019. “Proposals are due by March 15, 2017, and the two networks will be selected in the coming months,” according to Comcast. The new networks sprang from covenants to which Comcast agreed when it was granted approval to buy NBCUniversal, a deal completed in 2011. ASPiRE, launched by Magic Johnson in 2012, and Revolt, launched by Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2013, resulted. The covenants also created Hispanic and Asian American networks. Kids Central and Primo TV, both geared toward Latinos, launched last month on Comcast Cable systems.
  • David Honig, co-founder of the MMTC, disclosed a development that could substantially boost the number of radio stations owned by people of color. He said all three FCC commissioners in attendance “agreed to move forward on the Media Incubator, which through a special waiver, would give a broadcaster an opportunity in some markets to acquire one more radio station than the rules allow if the broadcaster makes it possible for a socially and economically disadvantaged business to get into broadcast ownership in the same or a larger market,” as RadioInk reported Wednesday. “This proposal originated with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters back in 1992. . . .”
  • Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League, delivered a fiery speech calling on the nation to “build bridges, not walls.” He called broadband the “21st century Homestead Act.”

Three consecutive sessions were devoted to monetizing broadband — FinTech.

Keenan told Journal-isms by email on Friday, “FinTech issues will dominate the future. We need to prepare people about the options, opportunities and pitfalls.”

Some FinTech plans start with the premise that African Americans and Latinos are three times more likely than whites to use mobile as their primary form of broadband.

Those groups are more likely to live in communities that are “underbanked.”

One FinTech company has come up with “BLAK Card, “a prepaid debit card attached to a real bank account. Powered by banking technology, it was developed to solve the financial exclusion problem of the Unbanked (and Underbanked) that exists in the U.S. for a group that is mostly comprised of African-Americans and others in the low- to moderate-income urban communities.”

Another provides personally tailored financial advice. “MoCaFi Cash Services . . . will provide users with mobile phone access to . . . lower check cashing processing rates than traditional check cashing outlets; allow a user to put funds ‘real time’ into any bank account that they may have, in a convenient low hassle way. . . .” says this New York company, whose CEO, Wale Coaxum, was part of a panel.

Some are tapping into the growing potential in Africa, which has the fastest growing middle class in the world, according to the African Development Bank.

Online retail is a booming industry in the U.S. with sales expected to increase by 45 percent this year, but in Africa only about 1% of all transactions happen online,” the Milwaukee Community Journal reported in December. “So, two Nigerian entrepreneurs have developed a product that offers a centralized way for African online merchants to accept online payments, and they just received $1.3 million in seed investment to help fund their company which is based in Lagos, Nigeria. . . .”

“Moneywise” host Boston advised conference attendees, “Own a piece of the digital economy. Buy digital stocks.”

“This is the wild, wild West of our generation,” said panelist Jerry Nemorin, founder and CEO of Oakland, Calif.,-based LendStreet. “This is what is going to save our community.”

Tishaura O. Jones (Credit: Wiley Price/St. Louis American)

Tishaura O. Jones, Democratic mayoral candidate in St. Louis (Credit: Wiley Price/St. Louis American)

Candidate Cites Lack of Blacks on Editorial Board

Tishaura O. Jones, the city treasurer and a Democratic candidate for mayor of St. Louis, declined an editorial board interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, she wrote Thursday, citing the lack of an African American on the board and including the newspaper as part of “the systemic racism that pervades almost every public and private institution” in the region.

Jones, who is African American, wrote a letter to Tod Robberson, Post-Dispatch editorial page editor since January 2016, that was published in the St. Louis American, an African American newspaper.

“Two weeks ago, you used some of your ink to outline what questions you would be asking of mayoral candidates,” Jones wrote. “You complained that ‘decades of sustained, abject neglect by city leaders have allowed a bombed-out graffiti-covered, war-zone image to prevail.’ You said you were afraid to walk your dog at night and you called for a plan to ‘address blight and abate the graffiti that’s killing our city.’

“You just moved here. It isn’t your city, yet. And graffiti is not what’s killing it.

“What is killing our city is poverty. Since you’re new and you live in a great neighborhood, you probably don’t know that the poverty rate doubled during Mayor Francis G. Slay’s 16-year tenure.

“What is killing our region is a systemic racism that pervades almost every public and private institution, including your newspaper, and makes it nearly impossible for either North St. Louis or the parts of South St. Louis where African Americans live to get better or safer or healthier or better-educated. . . .”

Linda Lockhart, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the outreach specialist at St. Louis Public Radio, might have been the last African American to work on the Post-Dispatch editorial board. In response to an inquiry from Journal-isms, Lockhart messaged that Jones might have a point.

Linda Lockhart

Linda Lockhart

“As a long-time NABJ member and a founding member of the St. Louis affiliate chapter, I believe strongly that the Post-Dispatch needs to have a way to bring the African-American perspective to the table when making decisions about editorials,” Lockhart wrote.

“As the industry had changed over the past decade, many newspapers have made drastic staff cuts — the Post-Dispatch among them. In the early 2000s, the editorial page had eight people, including two African-Americans. Today, the page operates with two or three staffers. None are black.

“Ms. Jones writes, ‘There are some talented reporters at the Post who are very good at their jobs. … They have written about me fairly, objectively and positively. I appreciate criticism when it’s due. But what the editorial board and certain other reporters have done is nothing short of thinly veiled racism and preference for the status quo past.’

“She does not distinguish between white or black staffers, which is a good thing. White staffers can certainly be sensitive to concerns of people of color. And, for the most part, I believe the Post-Dispatch editorial writers try to be fair and balanced.

“The current editorial page editor, however, is relatively new to St. Louis, and may not have a firm understanding of many of the racial undertones that affect life in St. Louis. That’s why diversity of race, gender, age, experience and other things are so valuable when editorial writers try to help a community understand important issues. With the current staff at the P-D’s editorial page, that is very difficult.”

Lockhart worked for the Post-Dispatch from 1974 to 1981 and again from 1997 to 2007. She wrote editorials for two years in the early 2000s.

St. Louis’ population was 49.2 percent black or African American in the 2010 census. For St. Louis County, the figure was 24.1 percent in 2015.

Robberson told Journal-isms by email that he had no comment on Jones’ letter.


From left: Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Charles M. Blow, Dayna Bowen Matthew, Peniel Joseph, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Leah Wright Rigueur, Armstrong Williams and Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, which sponsored the event. (Credit: Twitter)

Thought Leaders Debate Response to Trump

Since November, the appropriate response to the presidency of Donald J. Trump has been one of the most discussed topics among African American thought leaders, and it was no different Thursday night at the Smithsonian Institution’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

The occasion was a panel discussion accompanying a PBS promotion of “An Evening With Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise,” featuring excerpts from Gates’ PBS series, to be repeated again Tuesday. PBS also announced “Africa’s Great Civilizations,” a new six-hour series from Gates debuting Feb. 27.

Armstrong Williams, the conservative commentator and entrepreneur, said, “We have to be everywhere where there is power,” and said that philosophy explained his presence among Trump advisers. When the president succeeds, we all do, Williams said.

When moderator Charlayne Hunter-Gault turned to New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, Blow disagreed with Williams. “I don’t believe you should wish him well,” Blow said of Trump.

Dayne Bowen Matthew, a visiting fellow at the Center for Health Policy at the Brookings Institution, cited a Bible reference that “the Kingdom of God is taken by force.” “Take it by force and take it back to its moral center,” she said of the political structure.

Peniel Joseph, an author who has written about the black power era, said, “Organize, educate, agitate. That includes coalition building.” Joseph is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He said he had discovered “how profoundly undereducated America is on our history, especially our racial history. We need to tell the story.”

Leah Wright Rigueur, assistant professor of public policy at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, said, “It comes down to black women.” She cited the recent women’s marches after Trump’s inauguration and the examples of such women as Ella Baker, the civil rights activist associated with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Disconnect Between National Journalists, Citizens?

Recently, mainstream media have faced heavy criticism from all sides of the political spectrum regarding coverage of the presidential election and other political issues,” Nathan Hurst reported  for the University of Missouri-Columbia, republished Thursday on phys.org. “Now, researchers at the University of Missouri School of Journalism have found that many national journalists have views of democracy that are different than many Americans. The researchers believe this difference in philosophy might be contributing to a disconnect between Americans and the media.

Tim Vos, an associate professor of journalism studies at MU, along with David Wolfgang, a former doctoral student at MU, performed in-depth interviews with political journalists, many of whom work for national news outlets. They found that most political journalists had an ‘elitist’ view of democracy, meaning they believe that American citizens should elect political candidates every four years and then allow those office holders to perform their jobs with little input from the public.

“Furthermore, journalists believe their role is to update the public on the actions of elected officials so the public will be well-informed during the next election cycle, the study found.

“Vos says this philosophy, also called ‘administrative democracy,’ is at odds with a more populist view of democracy many Americans hold, which is that the public should have influence over elected officials’ decisions on a more regular basis.

” ‘This disconnect has shown itself many times in recent months, as a large portion of the American public has expected political news to be covered in one way while reporters are covering political news in a different way,’ Vos said. ‘This not only has led to many readers being upset about the style, tone and content of the news coverage, but also journalists appearing out-of-touch with their audience. While neither of these views about democracy are wrong, journalists need to do a better job of understanding their audiences so they can cover political issues better.’

“The study also identified a lack of diversity among journalists’ sources as another potential cause for the disconnect between journalists and the public. . . .”

RTDNA Director: War on Press Is Damaging

Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, had this to say Tuesday about President Trump’s assertion Monday that the media are covering up terror attacks around the world by not reporting or underreporting some of them:

Trump’s accusations are just another in a long list of attacks on the news media; attacks which have no basis in fact. The President’s war on the press has reached a point of being ridiculous and even damaging to our system of a free and open press.

“He criticizes anything he disagrees with, labeling it as fake news or simply as lies. He calls out news organizations and individual reporters as dishonest and even threatens them with legal action (which, of course, never materializes). Trump seems to have one view of the world: his own. And if the facts dispute that view, it’s wrong or false!

“There seems little chance Trump will change his approach while in the White House. As a result, journalists and news organizations must continue to do their jobs in the fearless manner which has characterized our profession for decades. We have no choice, and it’s what’s expected of us by the American people.”

Where Is Solidarity With Arrested Journalist?

Jean Monet

Jenni Monet

Jenni Monet, a Native American journalist, was arrested last week while covering Standing Rock. You’d think that would trigger a lot of support from the national and regional news media,” Mark Trahant wrote for Trahant Reports, reposted Monday by yesmagazine.org.

“There is an idea in law enforcement called the ‘thin blue line.’ It basically means that police work together. A call goes out from Morton County and, right or wrong, law enforcement from around the country provides back up.

“You would think journalism would be like that, too.

“When one journalist is threatened, we all are. We cannot do our jobs when we worry about being injured or worse. And when a journalist is arrested? Well, everyone who claims the First Amendment as a framework should object loudly.

“Last Wednesday, Monet was arrested near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. She was interviewing water protectors who were setting up a new camp near the Dakota Access pipeline route on treaty lands of the Great Sioux Nation. Law enforcement from Morton County surrounded the camp and captured everyone within the circle.

“A press release from the sheriff’s Department puts it this way: ‘Approximately 76 members of a rogue group of protestors were arrested.’ Most were charged with criminal trespassing and inciting a riot.

“As was Monet. She now faces serious charges and the judicial process will go forward. The truth must come out.

“But this story is about the failure of journalism institutions.

“The Native press and the institutions that carry her work had Monet’s back. . . .”

Trahant also wrote, “Yet in North Dakota you would not know this arrest happened. The press is silent.

“I have heard from many, many individual journalists. That’s fantastic. But what about the institutions of journalism? . . .”

A Story of Brotherly Caring

“Doctors call it ‘early onset’ colon cancer, and it strikes before age 50,” NBC News reported Wednesday. “African Americans are twice as likely to develop this form of cancer, and Craig Melvin’s brother has been affected.” Melvin, an MSNBC anchor and NBC News correspondent, told the story on the “Today” show and on “NBC Nightly News.” Melvin describes his brother, Lawrence Meadows, as “a Baptist pastor, father of two, husband, funeral home owner, and my older brother.” Soon he’ll be a cancer survivor. (video)

Tirico to Succeed Costas as Olympics Host

Bob Costas, the voice of NBC’s primetime Olympics coverage since 1992, is ‘passing the torch’ to Mike Tirico, the network announced Thursday,” Frank Pallotta reported Thursday for CNN Money.

Mike Tirico

Mike Tirico

“Tirico will make his debut as the network’s primetime host of the games starting with the Winter Olympics from PyeongChang next year.

“It’s hard to imagine the Olympics without Costas; he has been the host of a record 11 Olympics. . . .”

Pallotta also wrote, “The news comes as something of a surprise, but may help explain why Tirico moved from ESPN to NBC last year after a 25-year stint at ESPN.

” ‘That’s the pinnacle of our business, to be a part of the Olympic broadcast,’ Tirico told CNN last July. ‘The world doesn’t come together about many things, many times anymore… To say that’s a part of your life for however long this run is, is wonderful and humbling to me.’ . . .”

Marlow Stern reported in 2014 for the Daily Beast, “According to a 1990 profile of Tirico in the Syracuse Post-Standard, ‘because of his dark skin and ethnic features, Tirico says, most people assume he’s black. But he’s seen pictures of his father, his father’s mother, and his father’s sister, all of whom are white.’ ”

Roland Martin Answers Barbs on School Choice

Roland Martin’s advocacy of school choice on his “NewsOne Now” show on TVOne earned him a denunciation Wednesday from Bruce A. Dixon of Black Agenda Report, a leftist publication not shy about pouring the insults on those who don’t subscribe to its ideology.

Bruce Dixon

Bruce Dixon

Despite what his web site says, Roland Martin is no journalist,” Dixon wrote. “His daily news show doesn’t break any new stories. Roland traffics in celebrity interviews. He [jokes] with Tom Joyner on the radio. He chats with black Trump supporters and white supremacists, and the same Democratic politicians everybody else talks to.

“And Roland consistently makes the shallow case for privatizing education on behalf of his sponsors, with corny tweets, videos and a series of so-called ‘town hall meetings,’ though he’s plenty smart enough never to say the p word. . . .”

Roland Martin

Roland Martin

Asked to comment, Martin messaged, “And who is Bruce Dixon again? If he walked into a room I would have no idea who he is.

“But I do appreciate you forwarding me his email. I’ve been super busy running the only daily morning news targeting African Americans; holding Trump accountable on issues pertaining to Black people; and handling TV One duties for the 48th annual NAACP Image Awards. I really needed the laugh Dixon provided in his attempt at comedy.

“I won’t waste time correcting the numerous falsehoods and silly comments in his so-called story. I really have a lot on my plate and having to do clean up duty on a superficial rant isn’t what I call being productive.

“My position on school choice is very clear. I’ve discussed it in media for more than a decade; have given speeches; participated on panels, and will continue to do so.

“Please let Bruce know if he desires to be educated on this issue, just give me a call, email me or hit me on social media. That’s what I expect real journalists to actually do. He might want to try it. He might like it.”

Anthony Marquez, A.P Bureau Chief, Dies at 55

Anthony Marquez

Anthony Marquez

Anthony Marquez, an Associated Press intern who rose to Los Angeles bureau chief where his calm hand brought stability to AP’s news coverage in Southern California amid titanic changes for the journalism industry, has died,” John Rogers reported Friday for the AP. “He was 55.

“Marquez succumbed Thursday to complications from cancer.”

Marquez was a vocal newsroom diversity advocate and served on AP’s Corporate Diversity Council.

“Unfailingly courteous and with a disarmingly quick wit, Marquez was that rare boss and executive who seemed to have no enemies,” Rogers continued. “Those who spoke highly of him included not only the reporters, photographers and others he hired but the many editors and news directors whose newspapers, websites, and TV and radio stations received news from the AP.

” ‘Anthony was such an impressive person,’ said Gary Pruitt, AP president and chief executive officer. ‘He exemplified the very best of AP: high journalistic standards, impeccable business ethics, treating everyone with respect.’ . . .”

Harpers Bazaar for March

March cover of Harper’s Bazaar

Short Takes

bobby caina Calvan in Iraq

“I look forward to reading Richard Prince’s dispatches about the news media landscape. As a journalist of color, I rely on Journal-isms to keep me connected to the issues and many of the people I care about. I’m a strong believer in inclusive journalism, and Journal-isms helps me keep score of the battles we’ve won and those that, too often, we keep losing.”

Bobby Caina Calvan, reporter for the Associated Press; former co-chair of the MediaWatch program of the Asian American Journalists Association. Shown here in 2007 on assignment in Iraq for McClatchy newspapers.

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