This Labor Day Weekend I spent some time watching classic movies with my friend Kathy. As avid fans of film and television, we’ve been meandering through the history of classic cinema featuring films and prolific actors I somehow missed in my four decades of movie-going – tolerating Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (we jokingly refer to this first selection as the Bergman Debacle), enjoying the early films of French actor Gérard Depardieu, and now savoring Cary Grant’s romantic comedies.
After watching Mr. Grant in The Philadelphia Story and then the remake, the musical High Society, I found myself up late, unable to sleep, and scanning my Apple TV Apps for other movies to watch, when I ran across The Paper featuring one of my favorite actors Michael Keaton, and co-starring Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, and Marisa Tomei, all Academy Award nominees or winners. Of course, a newsroom drama caught my attention: ink has been running through my veins since my parents bought the Black Voice weekly community newspaper 35 years ago.
In the film, Keaton plays a committed newspaperman and father who spends a challenging 24 hours trying to uncover the truth behind the very public arrest of two Black youth for what seems to be a racially motivated murder of White businessmen in a New York borough, while his very pregnant wife (Tomei) demands his attention, and his bosses (Close and Duvall) demand a story…any story…even if it is incorrect, as long as it meets the evening’s deadline. I was hooked within ten minutes.
Released in 1994, the film shows a newsroom that is very different from today’s media offices. In the digital age, as media producers we function completely in a mobile-driven world with untethered phones, laptops and tablets, social media, apps, and digital cameras. I chuckled as I watched reporters in the movie use pay phones to follow-up on leads from the field, editors get official reports via fax, and photographers in the darkroom using loupes to view negatives to see if they “got the shot”.
In my own experience in the newspaper business, I have personally gone from setting type on Compugraphic typesetting machines and waxing and laying out columns of type on large sheets of paper to using digital publishing programs which combine all those features including processing the photographic artwork and delivering the content to readers and users electronically. The film made me think that while newspaper platforms may have changed in 20 years, our mission has not.
Like Keaton’s character, we work to uncover the truth and advocate for justice, holding to the century old belief that as advocacy journalists it is our duty to use the power of the pen for “serious thought and purposeful action.” And with the new methods of creating, curating, and delivering content, we are able to reach a larger audience with thought-provoking ideas that inspire action and promote social change.
As the oldest online African-American news website, first launched in 1999, blackvoicenews.com has filled a niche by providing credible content in a world where opinion blogs, websites, and social media posts often misinform many in search of information about and for the Black community. So this month we are re-launching Black Voice News online with original content daily, unique commentaries, and original features in a variety of diverse media formats designed to continue building on the decades of service provided to Southern California and now the rest of the world.
What began as a small community weekly newspaper serving Southern California’s Inland Empire region, has grown – through the power of new technologies – into two robust news websites. The more established blackvoicenews.com has a monthly average of over 40,000 unique visitors and 1.2 million page views. It is joined by our newest platform, theievoice.com, with 5,000 unique visitors and over 140,000 page views each month. Both sites serve as channels for creative, unique, and relevant content that inform and inspire.