URL Media Weekly
Friday, June 17, 2022
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 What We're Talking About

Photo: Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, Publisher, Black Voice News

An Origin Story

Black Voice News is among the oldest Black news outlets in California and the newest member of the URL Media network. For over four decades Black Voice News has covered the most important stories impacting the lives of Black Californians, and given “voice” to the community while expanding its scope of civic involvement.  We talked to Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds, the publisher, to get an inside look at BVN. 

Edited excerpts: 

URL Media: What’s the origin story of Black Voice News? 

As a newspaper that publishes in the spirit of the Black Press, the Black Voice News has given voice to the voiceless and shined a light on systemic inequities and disparities since 1972, when it was founded by students at the University of California, Riverside in Southern California.

In 1980, community leaders Hardy and Cheryl Brown took ownership of the newspaper, and under their leadership, the paper has given “voice” to the Black community while expanding its scope of civic involvement. 

Now I, their daughter, am leading the transformation of the organization to solutions-oriented and data-driven reporting, addressing issues from disparities in health, education, and wealth to police violence, social justice, and civil rights battles in Southern California’s Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

URL: How do you do things differently? What's your special sauce, if you will? 

Dr. Paulette Brown-Hinds: From its very founding, we have been focused on justice and equality, especially as it relates to the Black communities of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. And we have always embraced technology in our reporting and were the first Black newspaper on the West Coast to have a website. That early understanding of the importance of technological advancements has led us to embrace emerging technologies in our reporting, including geographic information systems and data visualizations.

In 2017, we launched Mapping Black California as an initiative that combines the solutions journalism legacy of the Black Press and the data visualization capabilities of geospatial technology to better understand data on African-Americans in the Golden State. 

Building on that work, we received Google News Initiative funding to develop DaHub, a repository to store curated datasets about Black Californians, which allows them to leverage data to tell more powerful stories. The result is data-informed storytelling that can support solutions journalism and narrative change around key issues impacting Black Californians.

URL: Can you tell me one story or BVN product you are especially proud of and why? 

Brown-Hinds: We’re extremely proud of the data and mapping work our team does, especially our COVID-19 Data Dashboard that tracked all data we could find on how the coronavirus was impacting Black bodies in California.

The tool not only focused on COVID-19’s impact on these communities but also looked at the evolving nature of the virus in relation to variants like Delta and Omicron, as well as providing a window into vaccine acceptance by Blacks in the state. 

We were one of the first news organizations to request the state to collect COVID-19 data by race, and we were the only media organization in the state of California to collect and report on that specific data. As a community newspaper, we believed it was important to make it available to the general public.


Uplift. Respect. Love.

 Uplifting our Communities 

Beyond Juneteenth: Vercie Lark and Ted James of the U.S. Small Business Administration penned an opinion essay published in Black Voice News explaining the significance of Juneteenth and asking the question, “Are Black Americans truly emancipated?”  They write, “While important to celebrate a day that freed our ancestors from the physical bondage and the inhumane capacity of slave owners to treat them as less than human beings, we must also look to the day as a reminder we have yet to successfully free the Black community, from the vestiges of restraints, controls and power structures that bond us far beyond the physical realm of being enslaved.”
Read the full essay here.

A Quest for Justice:  The high rate of murders of journalists in Mexico has drawn the attention of much outside press reporting over the last five years, reaching a peak in 2021 when, along with India, Mexico topped the list of countries in the world for the most media killings. This year, the pace of assassinations among the press there is increasing, with Mexican media reporting 11 to date. The families of assassinated reporters in Mexico face emotional and economic hardships and even death threats in the aftermath of the killings. palabra. details the journey of Francisco Pacheco’s family, who against all odds have doubled down on their quest for justice.


A Tenuous Existence: Dreamer Santos Veloz has lost three jobs, he says, because of delays at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in processing renewals for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Santos asks, “Imagine going to work and basically seeing a time clock on your future?” On the 10-year anniversary of DACA, Documented interviewed 100 Dreamers to learn more about their experiences. Read the full story here.

Refugees in Crisis: Minnesota’s embrace of Afghan refugees has turned into a crisis: many are facing eviction because government rental assistance expires after six months. The federal government pays for their first six months’ rent, and refugees must take over payments from there. Several local organizations are scrambling to keep refugees off the streets. Sahan Journal reports.


A Harmful Ban: In the fall, Virginia added more Black history to its school curriculum. By winter, an election began undoing that. In part two of Scalawag’s Schooled series, reporter Sonia Rao explains how Gov. Youngkin’s critical race theory ban harms students and confuses teachers. Read the full report here. 


Tackling Gun Violence: Alex Barrio, director of advocacy on Center for American Progress' Gun Violence Prevention team, joined WURD Radio's Charles Ellison on Reality Check to explain a bipartisan group of senators’ gun safety framework containing key reforms to address the nation's high rates of gun violence.

Reparations, Language, and Disinformation: This week, Our Body Politic host Farai Chideya speaks to filmmakers Erika Alexander and Whitney Dow about their new documentary The Big Payback. The film follows the growing movement for reparations for centuries of government policies blocking Black wealth.  And the series “Our Body Politics Presents…” features a conversation between “This Day in Esoteric Political History” podcast hosts Jody Avirgan, Nicole “Niki” Hemmer, and Kellie Carter Jackson with special guest Jelani Cobb of theNew Yorker, about the evolving language used to describe Black Americans. Plus, in its weekly segment, Sippin’ the Political Tea, Chideya speaks to Mutale Nkonde, CEO of AI for the People, and Kelsey Butler, equality reporter for Bloomberg News about the growing presence and impact of disinformation online and how the government could effectively intervene and curb it. Listen to the full episode here.



 Respecting & Honoring Arts & Culture

Lady Lowriders: Lowrider culture emerged in Southern California in the mid-to-late 1940s. Mexican-American lowriding aficionados customized cars to create cultural and political statements and a sense of pride. Even today, lowriders show off their creativity with images of Latino icons, crosses, family members, or deceased loved ones. The sleek, rolling works of art come with a soundtrack. Music plays an intrinsic role in lowriding culture – and it has traditionally been dominated by men, until now. palabra. details how the Lady Lowrider Car Club centers and celebrates women who are purchasing their own customized cars and –much like their brothers – revel in revving engines, free-wheeling & “hitting switches” on hydraulic systems.

Black Music Month: June is Black Music Month and our partner WURD Radio is celebrating the history and impact of gospel music all month long. Check out WURD's Black Music Month playlist here. It will be updated throughout the month with vignettes and additional tracks. 

 Centering Love 

Growing Up Queer in Appalachia: In honor of Pride Month, we are revisiting a heartrending story from Scalawag about coming of age in Appalachia as a queer kid. U.J. Wood writes, “Growing up; I was enough of an outsider for other kids. I was quite earnestly called ‘hippie,’ like it was the 1970s, and once even 'heathen,' like it was the 1670s. It wasn't until a few years later that I was called ‘lesbian’ by anything but the implication—and, as far as they were concerned, they didn't need a worse word than that. (Sometimes, the bullies know something you don't.) This was the era of ‘that's so gay’ and ‘Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.’ It was euphemism and silence, overt harassment, and willful misinterpretation of the political rhetoric of the time, e.g., ‘I'm not homophobic, I'm not afraid of gay people.'" Read the full story here.


 What We're Loving This Week From Our Partners 

How to Grieve: It’s been a tough couple of weeks, and heck, a tough couple of years. This week, Epicenter NYC did us all a solid with this great Q&A with NYC-based grief counselor Jill Cohen, who explains how to best cope with the feelings that follow tragic events like mass shootings. When a shooting happens, it’s not only direct family members who are affected but entire communities. Read Cohen’s advice on how to grieve here.


 The URLs on URL 

URL Media is hiring! 
We are seeking two exceptional leaders to help us plot the next phase of our growth and help scale our newsroom, partner newsrooms and collective audiences. 

💡Editorial Director 
💡Audience Manager

If interested, please email us a cover letter outlining your interest in either position and a CV to

URL Media Inclusive Recruiting: Are you looking for your next challenge? Or simply want to explore what could be next? Review our open jobs and find out how to join URL Media's inclusive talent pipeline. We work with many newsrooms, media adjacent nonprofits, and other national organizations to find and source talent at every level. Read and subscribe to our latest newsletter.

URL Media Events 

Join The Haitian Times on June 20 at 12 pm Eastern Standard Time, The Haitian Times will host a LIVE event with The New York Times to discuss a recent special report highlighting forced payments Haiti made to France – its former colonizer — post-independence. The Haitian Times is hosting a conversation about the story behind the story directly with the reporters and editors who worked on the project. Register here.

The Laura Flanders Show: Once a month, you can catch URL Media on The Laura Flanders Show on select PBS stations for a conversation that centers on the stories, issues and concerns that our BIPOC media partners are following. Check your local TV listing.

Save the Date - Scalawag’s Abolition Week:

As part of Scalawag's 3rd annual Abolition Week, pop justice will exclusively feature perspectives from currently and formerly incarcerated folks. Tune in from June 20 - 25 for a rollout of essays, videos, podcasts, and letters from the inside that:

  • Bust myths you’ve seen on prison TV shows

  • Break down copaganda from Family Matters to The Simpsons

  • Examine the role of journalism in spreading police lies

  • Shed light on the history of abolition and how media downplays it in present day

Then on Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m. Eastern / 6 p.m. Central, we're taking the big screen and the small screen to the Zoom screen for pop justice Live!: Copaganda from Cocomelon to SVU.

Hosted by Scalawag’s Race and Place Editor Ko Bragg and Scalawag Editor-at-Large Da’Shaun Harrison, this event is an invitation for us all to imagine what a mediascape less infiltrated by copaganda might look like.

 Our Founders 

Sara Lomax-Reese, CEO of WURD Radio, media entrepreneur for almost 30 years, served as Program Lead for the inaugural Facebook BIPOC Sustainability Accelerator and is currently a JSK Fellow.
S. Mitra Kalita, former SVP at CNN Digital, current CEO & Publisher at Kalita Mukul Creative Inc., which publishes Epicenter-NYC, The Unmuted and The Escape Home, has worked at The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The LA Times, and has launched brands like Mint and Quartz.

 Our Partners 

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