By Ashlea Brown
The Black News Channel will launch a 24-hour TV African-American news and content channel for African Americans this fall. Board chairman and former Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., the network’s founder, said he has planned this channel since 2004.
Gary Wordlaw, vice president of news and programming at BNC, said Watts’ “inspiration comes from years of coverage on the African-American community usually told from a point of negative bias.”
The channel will differ from BET Network “by employing news journalists, and not just opinion hosts to deliver daily messages concerning black communities,” he said. “There will be limited use of pundits and more use of experts from the more than 100 historically black colleges and universities from across the country.”
BNC is a diverse television network open for anyone who wants to learn and see the many sides to the African-American community, Wordlaw said. There is not one type of news topic that will be covered through the network. BNC will cover the country, world and community news.
“At BNC, we believe all news is local,” Wordlaw said. “The people and their experience across the country will drive coverage, not crime and violence.”
BNC has already planned several weekly programs, including sports coverage that highlights teams and sports on the campuses of HBCUs. Additional programming will include:
- “Being a Woman,” a daily one-hour talk show with topics about women of all ages about childbirth, business, elders and politics.
- “Today’s Teen Talk,” a program where family therapist Jane Marks interviews teens and families to help them navigate life through today’s society.
- “My America,” a weekly one-hour talk show hosted by Watts to examine the global issues that affect African-American communities.
BNC will also launch internship and training programs next month for HBCU students. Georgia Dawkins, the director of HBCU Services, said there will be opportunities for young journalists who are participating in the program.
“As a graduate of Florida A&M University, I have personally experienced the value of the HBCU network,” Dawkins said. “When I was a student at FAMU, I was hired by ‘ABC News’ to work at ‘Good Morning America.’ I later learned that it was a graduate from Howard University and Spelman College alumna who held the door open for me. I am honored to pay it forward in my new role with BNC.”
Dawkins said there is a desire for BNC to be involved with helping student journalists succeed. BNC wants to have a career day and do college tours. A special part of BNC’s partnership with HBCUs will be to train the next generation of storytellers and then hire them, Dawkins said.
The network wants to connect not only with college students but also with the whole African-American community as its target audience, Dawkins said. It will offer an HBCU database that will provide access to diverse academic experts, authors and specialists who will serve as the network’s nightly on-air contributing analysts.