I’Jaz Ja’ciel, Investigative Post’s Urban Affairs reporter and president of the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists, made an appearance on WBFO’s What’s Next? to discuss the state of Black journalism, both locally and nationally.
In the hour-long discussion with reporters Angelea Preston and Thomas O’Neil-White, Ja’ciel spoke about the importance of representation in newsrooms and some of the obstacles that Black reporters face. Having drawn from her own experiences as a native of Buffalo’s East Side, she explained how her background shapes her storytelling.
“Growing up, I didn’t see reporters in my neighborhood unless there was, like, a homicide or a burglary, and that’s not all the East Side is,” Ja’ciel told WBFO.
“Having both the platform and responsibility to accurately tell the stories of people who look like me, who come from where I come from — it’s my greatest honor.”
The conversation also focused on the portrayal of Black Americans in the news, the importance of accountability and the need for journalists to connect with members of the communities they serve.
On the subject of more equitable reporting, Ja’ciel discussed the impact of East Side Stories, an Investigative Post original series that examines issues that affect residents of the East Side through the lens of people working to address the problem. She explained how stories like her piece on Zawadi Books and the issue of book deserts highlight larger problems faced by many members of the city’s Black community.
“You hear about, especially after 5/14, the East Side being a food desert, but there is so much more missing for residents who live on this side of town, and when you want to talk about fostering the next generation to combat these issues, every single thing begins with education,” Ja’ciel said.
In addition to promoting fairness within news coverage, Ja’ciel expressed the need to promote fairness within news organizations, which has been a mission of the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists since its inception. (The BABJ is the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.)
She said her organization commends the increase in diversity within local newsrooms, but there’s more work to do in order to quell the high turnover rate of Black media professionals.
“We can still make things better for our journalists, our news producers, our people who work behind the scenes, our unsung heroes of color, not just bringing them here but giving them an incentive to stay,” Ja’ciel said.
“We care, in the BABJ, as much about our journalists as we do about the people for whom we produce news.”
You can listen to the full episode of What’s Next? | The State of Black Journalism here.