Television News has been central to documenting the history of African-Americans in the 20th Century. While show business has definitely done its fair share of good and bad in shaping the images of black people around the world, the news at its core documents the ‘real life’ of black America. On to the breakdown…
Relevance: While by definition the news is not a show built around black people, the power of the news to shape perception is undeniable. One of the oldest jokes in the black community revolves around the universal fear we have whenever the report begins with “There’s a rape/murder/burglary suspect on the loose tonight,” and while we wait for the cut to the suspect’s picture, we PRAY it’s not a black person (see photo above).
Legacy: The “I Have a Dream” speech. The Rodney King beating. The OJ Simpson murder trial. Hurricane Katrina. Barack Obama Elected President. That’s five off the top of my head. With the obvious exception of the last one, would any of the events hit the zeitgeist as hard without the power to broadcast them into every home in America (and around the world)?
Craft: The news of course is not about any technical wizardry. Depending on your political leanings, you may feel certain channels lean to far to the left or the right. That’s another discussion for another time.
Crossover: I don’t think anyone would argue that the News can still go into homes and deliver messages that some of the best fictional pieces of work about African-Americans can not. Only a few television programs on my list rank as high or higher (getting curious yet?).
Apollo: The age of the internet will continue to kill off the “Oh No!” factor that the News can bring from time to time. Mine may be the last generation though that will gather around a television set to watch a national story unfold (though I certainly hope not).
A personal favorite of mine will be checking in at #21. Keep your eyes open for that in the next couple of weeks.