The new Black Media is revolutionizing the landscape and its influence is being underestimating by giant corporations. But what about Black journalism? There are thousands of professionals out there trying to make a living, but this digital era would seem that it has come to the scene sweeping up all new opportunities for Black journalists and traditional news media.... Is that so? Let us discover how the current blockchain revolution can breathe new life into media platforms and enhance revenue generation to freelancer reporters.
With the Riverfront Montgomery, Alabama episode, we have realized how important it is to be able to tell our own story without waiting for "others" to do it for us. The mainstream media was committed to ignore what for us was a turning point in our narrative of justice. It wasn't until 3 days later, when the social networks were filled with praise, applause and admiration from all over the planet, that the traditional media gave up and had no choice but to echo what everyone was talking about: the folding chair, the new symbol of heroism for the Black community. In the same place where centuries ago slaves were sold as merchandise by mobilizing them with whips, now their descendants were establishing "law and order" by beating those who wanted to end the life of a worker and exercise their white privileges.

The landscape of journalism has been intrinsically affected by new technologies and Black newspapers -once leaders in being the predominant critical voice of society on the events and narratives being disseminated- are now on the verge of disappearance. The same can be said for journalism while Black; many Black journalists encounter innumerable barriers to telling the stories of their community with a different perspective within the newspapers and publishing houses where they are employed. But Web3 technology has come to give a new lease of life to this profession and the ability to reinvent itself while maintaining the identity, raison d'être, and ultimate mission of the Black press: to offer a full and complete view of Black culture within its appropriate context.

Because stories about minorities are not always represented accurately by mainstream news organizations, the Black perspective is needed in all the conflicts present in today’s world. And this is how the first Black newspaper came to life. On March 16, 1827, in New York City, a group of free Black men founded Freedom’s Journal, the first newspaper owned by and led by, and for, Black Americans in the United States. “…We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations, in things which concern us dearly…” said the editors and proprietors in the inaugural four-page broadsheet.
At that time, the Black press binary and oppositional relationship to the White press was the origin of its formation. Today, the blunt suppression or ignoring all along the Black press is the tactics used by the main media to mainstream a single point of view of stories.
Just to give an example, 1921’s Tulsa massacre -in which white mobs killed 300 Black people and forced thousands to flee- was mostly ignored by the city’s mainstream newspapers, one of which only wrote about it for the first time 50 years after the massacre occurred.

The marginalization of the Black press was easier to manage than Black Twitter though. Back then, publisher’s commitment to civil rights for the benefit of the race was in competition with their self-interests, so pay-offs made by the tobacco industry easily derailed or sabotaged many attempts to expand the movement far beyond what would have been possible. Today those pay-offs still exist, but there are useless and ineffective with the grass roots media and social media. Nearly 200 years later, Black media continue to create a space where Black folks can speak for ourselves about issues of importance and combat stereotypes that harm us.

However, the legitimacy of Black media, in some cases, have been lost due to historical attempts and effective tactics from the white media to hire African American journalists away from the Black press, making it almost impossible for them to now talk against the one giving them their daily bread.

The economic independence that persisted during the segregationist era was what legitimized the Black press to defend the interests of the people. In this new era, activist movements do not see as allies those same journalists who are protected by the major newspapers and media outlets. The historical Black newspapers must rethink the direction they want to take and the role they want to play in this 21st century, since the difficulties and discourse from the Black community regarding their situation in society have not changed one iota since the 1960s, since the full citizenship rights for African Americans has not been achieved up to date.


Whatever happened to telling detailed stories regarding the positive things that happens in Black communities? Are there differences in how Black-owned media and Black-targeted media cover these topics? What would the future of Black communities and American society at large hold if Black media organizations had the resources they deserve to be able to shed light on more of these issues? Black media not only connects news events across topics in reporting, but also connects present events to the historical record, keeping track of the Black experience. But it seems that the pulse between the two forces is being lost by the Black press.

"Challenge 1: Decreased Ad Revenue" Ad revenue, a traditional source of income for newspapers, has significantly declined over the past decade.

Politicians today resort to the previous tactics… during the election season, they go and meet with the Black press because they know the influence this media still has among the Black community. But this influence is in jeopardy. Advertisers are moving quietly and slowly away from traditional media outlets and pivoting to social media platforms, so these historically newspapers are losing support from both sides, subscribers (members that prefer to get their insights and news from digital platforms and social media,) and advertisers (who have found more efficient and profitable channels while targeting the Black community).

Today, 205 publications are members of NNPA, the trade organization that represents Black press in the U.S. Like the rest of the industry, for whom ad revenue decreased from $60 billion to $20 billion from 2000 to 2015, declining ad revenue has also impacted Black newspapers.

Challenge 2: Declining Print Circulation” The shift towards digital media has resulted in declining print circulation.
According to Pew, paid and free print circulation has also declined — with most relying on subscription rather than newsstand sales.
The Democracy Fund report urges legacy Black news media companies to (1) collaborate to boost their digital presence and (2) preserve their archives. The report also highlights the importance of preserving the archives of legacy newspapers that are closed or are on the verge of closing, since they “hold huge amounts of the history of and by African Americans.”

Challenge 3: Audience fragmentation
What Uber has done for cabs, and YouTube for television networks, social networks have done for journalism and news media. The image of the executive reading the newspaper with his cup of coffee at breakfast is outdated. Today it is the cell phone that instantly informs us of what is happening, and for the Black community, Black Twitter is the bread and butter of the day. “If Black Twitter didn’t continue to exist in the way it does now,” says Luckie, formerly head of news at Twitter, “you’d actually see a decline of the Black press because it’s so difficult to source these stories if you don’t have the resources, which a lot of the Black press suffers from.”

Black digital media has re-emerged as a more economical alternative for Black journalists to become self-supporting and not rely so much on VC-funded ventures for a Black-focused sub-brand or vertical. However, like YouTube influencers, they depend heavily on what the community reports from their personal social media profiles or they simply comment on what other mainstream media outlets report and give their point of view.

Many Black journalists yearn to be able to make documentaries, investigations or interviews that really would change the status quo or that simply would contribute to portraying the truth of events, and denounce falsehoods, manipulations or the real causes of specific problems. However, they do not have the necessary resources and are faced with the tough choice between being the mouthpiece of lies while filling their own pockets, or the watchtower of truth and barely surviving. It doesn't have to be this way.

Social media is replacing traditional journalism… but this should not automatically mean the end of it. Let's discover how journalism can find its niche and space in this new digital era.


Let's consider two hypothetical cases to visualize with case studies how Web3 technology and the Metaverse could help those involved in the Black press to revitalize their businesses. The first scenario would be that of Brianna, a journalist who has inherited a historic Black newspaper business from relatives, whose records indicate that advertising and subscription revenues from the print version are almost non-existent. The other case would be that of Frane, a freelance journalist, committed to the cause of police injustice but barely able to pay his bills due to sponsorship woes and resource constraints while covering unpleasant topics for the “Powers That Be”. Should Brianna abandon the idea of continuing the century-old newspaper whose contribution to the civil rights movement was incalculable? Will Frane have to succumb, give up and accept the harsh reality and end up working at one of the mainstream newspapers and devote his skills and energies to the defense of foreign causes other than his own? Let's see that both Brianna and Frane have alternatives thanks to the blockchain.

Brianna could generate revenue through creating a virtual platform within the Metaverse where readers can access and subscribe to the newspaper's content. She could offer virtual newsstands in the Metaverse where users can purchase individual copies or subscribe to the newspaper.
Also, hosting virtual events and conferences within the Metaverse focused on topics relevant to the Black community and civil rights can add to her bag. These events can generate additional revenue through ticket sales, sponsorships, and virtual merchandise. Following the success of events like the Essence Festival, Brianna could likewise invest in events as a new revenue stream. The Metaverse allows her to do so in an innovative, cost-effective way. Let us see 4 specific use cases for her:

  1. Tokenized Community Memberships: Instead of the traditional subscription, she can create tokenized community memberships that offer exclusive access to special content, events, and perks, providing an additional revenue stream while fostering a sense of belonging among readers. For example, Brianna can create a Metaverse History Archive, a virtual repository of her newspaper's historic editions, offering access to subscribers and preserving important events in Black history.
  2. Virtual Advertising Opportunities: She could consider virtual advertising placements within the Metaverse platform, allowing her business to reach a targeted audience while generating revenue for the newspaper. With Web3, Brianna can tokenize ad spaces in her virtual newspaper, offering them for sale or lease in a decentralized marketplace. This not only creates a new revenue stream but also gives advertisers transparent, tamper-proof records of their agreements.
  3. Virtual Newsroom and Reporting: She will be able to develop a virtual newsroom within the Metaverse, allowing journalists on her payroll to report and cover events in real-time, fostering reader engagement and providing unique perspectives. Brianna can also host virtual reality interviews with prominent figures, offering exclusive content to subscribers and boosting engagement.
  4. Educational Content and Workshops: If she is dedicated to the cause of her newspaper, she must think about the next generation. She could offer virtual workshops and educational content related to journalism, storytelling, and media literacy, providing valuable resources to train aspiring Black journalists, adding another revenue stream while enriching the community. Furthermore, with the Metaverse, Brianna can host virtual events, ranging from speaker sessions to commemorations of civil rights milestones. These events not only generate revenue but also provide a platform for community engagement and preserving the newspaper's historical legacy.

Venturing as an independent in the world of Web3 is not easy, but there are numerous tools that will help Frane to completely free himself from the impositions of his funders and to be able to publish the truth and nothing but the truth. This is how:

  1. Decentralized News Platform: Frane could launch a decentralized news platform using blockchain technology. This ensures his work is permanently and transparently stored, free from censorship and manipulation. His reports are out there for the world to see, regardless of VC funders or political pressures.
  2. Community-Funded Journalism: While his primary audience may not have extensive resources, they are not alone. Frane can use the Metaverse to connect with supporters worldwide. Through decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms and community tokens, he can gather micro-contributions from those who believe in his cause, enabling him to fund in-depth investigations without needing traditional sponsors.
  3. Virtual Reality Storytelling: Frane could use virtual reality (VR) in the Metaverse to create immersive stories that bring the audience into the lives and struggles of the people he reports on. These VR experiences are deeply impactful, and they could attract a wider, more engaged audience – including those willing to contribute to his work financially or otherwise.
  4. Metaverse Press Conferences and Panels: Frane could host virtual press conferences, inviting the global community into dialogues about police injustice. These forums are not only more secure and affordable than physical events but also accessible to a global audience, increasing visibility and support for his work.

Brianna, your father's newspaper is more than a publication - it's a part of Black history and culture. By embracing Web3 and the Metaverse, you can carry this legacy forward, engage with your readers in meaningful ways, and create sustainable revenue streams.
Frane, your approach to journalism is more than a profession; it’s a mission. And in the Metaverse, you will find a way to continue that mission, regardless of the obstacles traditional media has placed in your way.

Black media was important in 1827, and it is just as critical today. We must work to ensure that Black media will not just survive, but thrive for generations to come. If you identify with Brianna or Frane embrace innovation to ensure the survival and success of the industry… And remember, FOCUS ON WHERE YOU WANT TO GO, NOT WHERE YOU CURRENTLY ARE.

AUGUST, 17 / 2023
As the landscape of media continues to evolve, the Metaverse presents unprecedented opportunities for Black-owned newspapers to revolutionize their reach, engagement, and impact. If you're intrigued by the potential of embracing this cutting-edge technology to elevate your newspaper's presence in the digital age, I encourage you to take the next step. Let's connect and discuss how JJBK Studio can guide you on a transformative journey towards leveraging the Metaverse for your newspaper's success. Schedule a call with me today, and together, let's pave the way for an exciting new era of journalism that captures the essence of your community and resonates with your audience like never before.
Text author: Jimmy Jean
Photography: Midjourney AI ©JJBK studio 2023

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