I began Black Iowa News 16 months ago to fill the gap I noticed in reporting about the coronavirus pandemic. News reports rarely disaggregated the data by race, which made it hard to quantify the pandemic’s effect on Black Iowans. I named the publication Black Iowa News to make clear my intention to write stories that are meaningful and appealing to Black Iowans and that feature us prominently. Full stop.
I have written about a wide variety of issues since then, including the work of activists after the murder of George Floyd, artist Jill Wells' gorgeous murals, anti-Blackness, a 3-part series on domestic violence, “It’s Harder for Black Women to Leave. I received a Black Press Grant from the National Association of Black Journalists to write the 3-part series, UNPROTECTED, about COVID-19, the vaccines and bias in health care. I wrote a piece for the Listening Post Collective about the state of being Black in Iowa. I helped advertise West Des Moines’ inaugural Black and Brown Business Summit. I featured the video conference platform, AONMeetings, aka “Black Zoom.” I highlighted the work of Just Voices, which is fighting against racial profiling. I delved into the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis at the Tyson plant in Waterloo. I shared my observations as a Black Iowan: “We are not in the same pandemic.”
On social media, I share the latest headlines of interest to Blacks from a wide variety of sources. Follow Black Iowa News on Facebook and check out the latest headlines. When I struggle not to go off at some of the outlandish and outright racist things happening in Iowa and the world, I might tweet about it. If I have great photos to share, I’m on IG. I interact with business-minded folks on LinkedIN. I invite you to join Black Iowa News on these platforms. We all know there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to Black Iowa, so let’s chat about it.
Here are my priorities as I compile content for Black Iowa News:
Finding and quoting Black sources
Elevating the voices of Black Iowans
Writing stories with the latest data about Blacks prominently displayed
Photographing Black Iowans
Writing stories that make a difference to Black readers
Focusing on how key issues affect Black Iowa (i.e. COVID-19)
Publishing sound journalism
Striving for accuracy, and publishing a correction when necessary
Always striving for fairness and balance (but will I leave out “the other side” when it is racist, anti-Black and pushing misinformation and disinformation that is harmful to Black communities). Read that again.
As the founder and only employee (so far), I can accomplish a lot, but there are some things I simply can’t do.
Chase every story or issue
Attend every event
Be first all of the time
Conduct the majority of interviews in person due to the spread of COVID-19
I often start writing with the goal of trying to solve a problem or shed light on a subject that needs attention. I also spend a lot of time scouring social media to see what’s being talked about. Then, I work to get answers from Black sources and experts. In the coming months, I will be reaching out to Black communities around the state to share their stories. You’ll also hear more from me soon on Facebook Live, and I plan to create a Facebook group so we can connect. And, I have other exciting plans in the works.
Iowa has some serious inequities. Here are the issues that are of particular interest to Black Iowa News:
My background as a former newspaper reporter, communications coordinator and now founder of a media company make me uniquely qualified to help tell our stories, but your help is needed. Building a more informed Black community won’t happen without intentional effort. The mainstream media right now is enamored with telling Black stories. Will that last? Is it a fad? Who knows, but I’ve long been committed to covering us and working with you.
This pandemic has taught us all a lot. It has shown us where our vulnerabilities are, where the gaps and inequities are and emphasized the need for us to work together and support each other.
Remember, you can support more than one Black-owned publication or business at a time.
Support us all! Let’s all rise together. Then, we can help each other transform this state.
In case you missed it, Black Iowa News has moved from Substack to Facebook’s Bulletin platform. You can read more about that here. Please subscribe to Black Iowa News on Bulletin and share the weekly email newsletter with your networks.
Buy a subscription if you’re able: $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for the year. There’s also a free option. Your subscription helps further the mission of Black Iowa News, which allows me to hire writers, graphic design artists, help other Black businesses and creators, etc. I also plan to create some subscriber-only content this fall. Subscribe today and invite others in your network to subscribe.
Interact: Comment, like, share, email.
Email me with story tips and comments. Let’s talk. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you in charge of an organization, club or managing an event? Send me a meeting invite and email your meeting minutes, reports, press releases and news to email@example.com.
Interested in journalism and social media? Black Iowa News is looking for a paid intern.
I started Black Iowa News because I worried the pandemic would quietly decimate our communities, and the pandemic is taking a terrible toll. By now, most of us know someone who has died or contracted COVID-19. And, there are still many among us who are unvaccinated and at risk. When it comes to this public health crisis, it has become clear who does and does not have our best interests at heart. That’s why it’s so important for us to keep this conversation going and to discuss the issues that need attention. Help Black Iowa News continue to be a part of tackling this important work.
If I haven’t said it enough, your support, subscriptions, follows, likes, shares and emails mean everything to me. I look forward to continuing on this journey with you. I can’t thank you enough. Thank you. 🌷🌼🌻🌺
Banner photo (from left): "A Monumental Journey," which commemorates the founding of the National Bar Association by 12 Black lawyers in Des Moines in 1925, Dana James, the downtown Des Moines skyline. Sculpture and skyline photos by Black Iowa News.