On this episode of the Laura Flanders Show, S. Mitra Kalita and Sara Lomax-Reese, co-founders of URL Media, interviewed experts about how Black and Brown media should cover Black political candidates. Now that Eric Adams will likely be New York City’s second Black mayor, who reports on candidates like him, and where these reports are published matter. Reporters who share similar stories and backgrounds as candidates are able to cover them in ways that are “complex and better” than mainstream media. Here are some key takeaways from the episode:
The importance of balanced reporting
“It just seems that whenever there is a woman or a person of color, in particular a person of color in these positions, there’s always this filter of ‘oh they’re corrupt,’” said Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, a former city council representative and guest on the show.
Ferreras-Copeland urges reporters to get rid of this mentality and truly investigate the candidate they are covering. She said it’s often easy to categorize a person of color as being corrupt or underqualified, when many times that is not the case.
“Journalists need to be fair, I am not asking anyone to romanticize this moment but we must be fair and balanced, the reality is that [Eric Adams] will be our next mayor and we must give him the opportunity to do things right,” she said.
Hold Black and Brown candidates accountable
Oftentimes, when Black and Brown candidates are elected, mainstream media tends to focus on them as some sort of “novelty.” Charles D. Ellison, host of Reality Check on WURD Radio, the only Black owned and operated radio station in Philadelphia, believes that this can take away from holding these elected officials accountable.
“I think we are way past the stage where it’s like ‘oh a new Black elected official. Okay so he is the second Black mayor of New York City — it’s not a novelty anymore to have a Black mayor … don’t look at them as novel, don’t look at them as historic celebrities anymore; no, they are public servants, they’re here to serve,” Ellison said.
Where are we getting our reporting on Eric Adams? Critiques of Adams in the New York Times may look very different from critiques in a publication with a majority-black audience. Lomax-Reese says Black and Brown communities may sometimes feel a tension between both holding a Black elected official accountable for things that aren’t in the Black community’s interest, and at the same time trying to protect him from media that may be criticizing them extensively. She mentions that his tension was evident before when Obama was president.
It is important to have spaces and publications that are culturally targeted in order to have “authentic, culturally relevant and culturally specific conversations within — it’s almost like family conversations” Lomax-Reese said.
What we can take away here is that who talks about Black and Brown candidates and where these conversations are published will be consumed differently by audiences, so it’s crucial to keep context in mind.
As more officials of color take office, who reports on them and how they do so can make all the difference.
Watch the full panel here.