How Black and Brown-owned media companies are working to change the diversity landscape in newsrooms

The reach of mainstream media is not in question, however, the trust, intimacy and relevancy of mainstream media with communities of color is very much in question, according to Mitra S. Kalita. 

It’s an unfortunate reality that American mainstream media has lost trust among Black and Brown communities. This is due to a variety of reasons such as lack of diversity in leadership, failing to let go of plummeting business models and the alienation of communities of color in today’s age of racial reckoning, according to Kalita and co-presenter Sara Lomax-Reese. 

These factors led Kalita and Lomax-Reese to create URL Media, a network made to uplift, respect and love the communities journalists serve.

The founders presented their media outlet in a panel alongside several of its partners during the 2021 International Symposium on Online Journalism (ISOJ) on April 30.

URL Media aims to redefine mainstream media, create inclusive ad networks and reclaim social platforms to serve diverse audiences with viral, high-quality content. The team believes that Black and Brown-owned media organizations solve that issue of a lack of trust, intimacy and relevancy in mainstream media.

URL Media is made up of a diverse network of media organizations, including Scalawag, palabra. and the Haitian Times, all of which presented at this panel and share content with each other. They also also have the opportunity to syndicate their content to mainstream media.

palabra., a non-profit digital publication of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), strives to tell the stories of the communities that national newsrooms tend to forget about.

“The issue of diversity, equity and inclusion is not a new issue; what is new is a growing movement to actually do something about it,” said Nancy San Martin, journalist and contributor at palabra.

palabra. is uplifting freelance journalists’ voices to tell stories of activism and volunteerism and people doing great work in their communities.

Scalawag, another member of the URL network strives to spark critical conversations in the South.

“Though a true racial reckoning has not come to news, yet, more and more journalists are rejecting objectivity and other tenants of white-dominant culture that keep us away from being in relationships with and serving all people,” said executive director and publisher Cierra Hinton.

Scalawag began as a magazine read exclusively by older white people, she explained. Today, they are a conglomeration of Black, queer and female voices that work to disrupt and shift the narratives that lead to severe oppression of marginalized communities in the South.

Race and Equity Panel
View this panel in English or Spanish

Another member of the URL Media network is the Haitian Times, which works to share the stories of the Haitian community in order to highlight the achievements and challenges they experience.

The Haitian Times was founded in Brooklyn, New York in 1999 by Garry Pierre-Pierre, who left his job at the New York Times in order to launch the newspaper to bring coverage to his own community of Haitiain-Americans.

“I remember the first time I came across the Haitian Times. […] Sometimes, as an immigrant, you stick to your little community in your pocket, wherever you are. So, having a window to what the rest of the Haitians in New York and Florida and Boston were doing was just an amazing feeling,” Macollvie J. Neel, managing editor, said.

The Haitian Times uses quality journalism to tell the stories of its community’s assimilation and diaspora.

Watch the full panel on race and equity in the news in English or Spanish on the ISOJ YouTube channel.