Why Black Consumer News?
Over the past decade, much has been reported on the decline of the newspaper and print media as American consumers increasingly look to digital media to feed their real-time thirst for fresh and relevant information. Nationwide, the industry’s financial fortunes and subscriber base have declined since the mid-2000s, and website audience traffic has leveled off after some years of growth.
Following the 2016 presidential election of President Donald Trump, who has made “fake news” a part of the everyday American lexicon, there was a sharp jump in digital subscriptions, giving a boost to their overall circulation totals. However, the estimated total U.S. daily newspaper circulation (print and digital combined) in 2018 was 28.6 million for weekday and 30.8 million for Sunday, down 8% and 9%, respectively, from the previous year.
As the digital age continues, the print newspaper industry has faced, weathered, and folded under some of the hardest blows. Since around 2009, many small to medium-sized newspaper outlets across the U.S. have forever shuttered their doors due to falling profits and an inability to compete with online news sources.
Meanwhile, in the past few years, iconic media conglomerates such as Freedom Communications, Sun-Times Media Group, the Journal Register Company, and Tribune Company have all declared bankruptcy and suffered large amounts of layoffs. Despite the push for web-based subscription services, many modern consumers prefer to read their news for free rather than pay for print or online viewing privileges, leading to massive industry-wide losses in profits.
Dying Black Media
Lost in all the attention of mainstream media’s downsizing is the same trend that has taken place in black-owned media. Not only has such famous black-owned properties such as BET, Essence, and The Root been sold to Viacom, Time, and The Slate Group, respectively, but the Johnson Publishing family’s iconic Ebony and Jet magazines filed for bankruptcy in April 2019 and sold off its historical African-American-focused photo archives at pennies on the dollar to a private investor. At the same time, other niche black publications such as BlackVoices.com, Savoy, and Black Enterprise and dozens of black-owned newspapers in major cities across the U.S. are struggling to stay, have gone bankrupt, been purchased by corporate conglomerates, laid off most of their staff, or been impacted by a combination of all of the above.
Likewise, the number of black journalists in American newsrooms today is so bad that the American Society of News Editors’ (ASNE) in September 2018 delayed the results of its annual survey on diversity because of a lack of participation to make the poll more representative of the media industry. Out of 1,700 newspaper and digital media outlets, only 234 participated in 2018, mainly because of the lack of black and minority representation on their staffs. When the report finally came out in late 2018, only 17% of the newspaper in the U.S. responded to the annual ASNE query.
Project Black Consumer News (BCN)
Is there an answer? Yes, more than anything, black consumers want easy to read, relevant digital news that is black-owned, and written for and about them. After more than 30 years in the news and media business spanning a career that ranges from covering the Oklahoma City bombing and working on Wall Street to serving as a spokesman for a Fortune 500 wireless giant and developing the business strategy for one of Arkansas’s leading digital news platform, Black Consumer News (BCN) Publisher and Editor Wesley Brown has developed a black-owned, black-oriented daily news portal that is plans to launch in late 2020 or early 2021.
The Black Consumer News portal will be a high-level news portal that will provide business, financial and other “money-related” news aimed at the black middle-class consumers, entrepreneurs, corporate professionals, investors and anyone interesting in the black economy. The initial launch will take place in Arkansas, then eventually expand to 10 strategically selected urban markets with large African American populations that have been identified as “black media deserts.” That strategic plan has also identified key demographics that show the likelihood of success through social media-power subscriber growth, advertising and corporate sponsorship, along with an investor-owned advertising firewall arrangement that keeps the publication 100% black owned.
Using his background as the publisher of Arkansas’ old business journal and helping to take TalkBusiness.net from a small blog to a statewide, digital news enterprise, Brown has developed a system of news contact and sources that will allow him and a staff of correspondents to post top daily Arkansas and national black-focus financial and breaking consumers news. BCN will first focus on Arkansas news in the first year of launch, and then expand to two cities in Texas in Year Two, and the seven-top urban-oriented markets across the southern U.S. in Years 2-5. If the launch in Arkansas and Texas are successful, those plans can be accelerated with launches in other key West and East Coast markets included in the mix, serving as local newspapers for those cities. The ultimate goal is a robust roster of state-level BCN digital sites that feed into a national BCN portal.
Our key target market is the fast-growing black millennial and post-millennial population, which is nearly 45% of the total black population and represents nearly 14% of the 83.1 million Americans that are part of the so-called Generation Y and Z voting bloc.
Recent U.S. Census Bureau data show blacks represent 15.7% or about 452,000 of Arkansas’ growing population, which jumped by 3.4% to 3,013,825 in 2018. That same census data shows that this diverse group of Americans became the majority-minority for the first time, with 50.2% of millennials being a part of a minority race or ethnic group.
Our next primary target market is older and higher-income Black professionals and Baby Boomers looking to boost their retirement income and learn more about wealth-building. The 2018 census data shows that black incomes have been rising most rapidly in those southern Sun Belt states like Arkansas that have also seen population spikes. In many cases, many southern cities like Little Rock and the fast-growing Fayetteville-Springdale-Bentonville metropolitan area are seeing a reversal of the Great Migration to other parts of the country that were far more welcoming to black aspirations than the South. Blacks, like most Americans, are migrating to places where they see opportunity.
- BCN will include one FrontPage and 12 key coverage sections or microsites that will focus on every sector of the economy’s business and financial side important to black consumers. The BCN Frontpage will serve much like the Front page of a newspaper where the top new Black Consumer headlines will be published daily and branded with one of the 12 section headers.
- The BCN Frontpage will also include space for advertising banners throughout each page so that potential advertisers can sponsor a page or post their ad. The front page will also include a digital carousel that flashes all the same top stories of the day.
- Each microsite will serve as a mini-front page for each news section, similar to how a Sunday newspaper is separated by different sections (i.e., business, sports, entertainment, religion, consumer forum, opinion, corporate promotions, etc.) For example, the BCN Politic site will focus on the key political issues that impact Black individuals and/or families’ pocketbooks. As noted, other top BCN microsites will include Wall Street, Corporate Promotions, Sports, Entertainment World, Religion, Leisure and Travel, Special Events, and the BCN “Black Carpet.”
- BCN will first focus on Arkansas news in the first year of launch and then expand to two cities in Texas in year two and the seven-top urban-oriented markets across the southern U.S. in years 2-5. If the launch in Arkansas and Texas, those plans can be accelerated with launches in other West and East Coast markets included in the mix, serving as local newspapers. The goal is a robust roster of state-level BCN digital sites that feed into a national BCN portal.
If you would like to learn more or are interested in advertising with BCN or sponsoring a BCN page or upcoming event, please contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org