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Launch of a black-owned press briefing in Pine Bluff | Arkansas Business News

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Pine Bluff entrepreneur and activist Michael McCray and veteran Arkansas political and business journalist Wesley Brown launched an online media outlet, Arkansas Delta Informer, this week with a mission to showcase Pine Bluff and the Delta. Arkansas as a Region Ready for Economic Development and Cultural Tourism.

McCray and other undisclosed investors unveiled on May 14 as Pine Bluff’s only black-owned independent news portal. Brown, a former Tulsa World and Stephens Media reporter who is now publisher of the Daily Record in Little Rock and Black Consumer News, his own online portal, has been named publisher and editor of Arkansas Delta Informer and is working to hire a editor.

McCray, a lawyer by training, has extensive media and marketing experience and has been active in his native Arkansas since returning from service in Washington with the Clinton administration. “As a community advocate, I saw we had a problem, and it was mostly bad news.” Genuine reporting on crime, drugs and poverty combined with bad word of mouth to present “what didn’t seem like a complete picture of what was happening in my community,” McCray said.

And while he said the Delta Informer wouldn’t shy away from tackling bad news topics, he wouldn’t be interested in reporting a daily tally of stabbings, shootings and mayhem. “We will look at these questions from a different angle, perhaps an ultimate point of view.”

Brown, who will continue his other jobs, said there was a clear need for positive stories. He plans to write a few, identify more for other staff, and expand the coverage. He plans to devote about 10 hours a week to the new venture, which involves raising seed capital for a full-time editor, reporters and a freelance budget.

“We wanted to have a more complete story, that Pine Bluff and the Delta is rich in culture and heritage, full of landmarks, music and dance and history,” McCray told Arkansas Business in a phone interview. tuesday. “We want people to see this, and see that this is a great place to visit, to live or to do business.”

the delta informant also plans to seek associate membership in the Arkansas Press Association within the next year as an online news organization.

“I’m always looking for more money,” McCray joked when asked about financing the business. “We want to have a model that will include community investment, and we have investors coming in. I just don’t want to get too deep into the finances. Our model is to allow community members to invest, but their will also be a level of ownership included.

McCray said that a few years ago “a major investor said the greatest harm to outside investment at Pine Bluff” was the negative “if it bleeds, it leads” report. He said coverage has improved somewhat since the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette integrated the Pine Bluff Commercial daily two years ago, making it part of the state’s largest newspaper.

Yet news consumers don’t have enough alternative viewpoints, he said. “Our goal is to bring better news and improve media literacy in our community.” He said Brown will expand the new website’s local, state, regional and national news coverage, focusing on “unbiased and upbeat stories about people, places, politics and cultural particulars.

“We’re a mainstream news outlet, just with a different perspective,” Brown said in a phone interview, taking a counterpoint to McCray’s description of the Delta Informer as a modern heir to legendary 20th-century black newspapers. century like the Chicago. Defender, the Memphis World and, of course, the Arkansas State Press, run by Daisy and LC Bates. “The lack of diversity in Arkansas newsrooms is a real problem,” said the former Hope Star reporter. for years he was the only black reporter at the Tulsa World.

“I’ve been working on the Informer project for about a month, working with a web developer, helping build the site and finding sources of information,” said Brown, who has mostly turned to business writing and finance in the 1990s. His Brown on Business column was once a weekly feature in the Pine Bluff Commercial.

“I will be working with the Arkansas Delta Informer to help them get publicity and hire an editor and some freelancers. I will write stories,” Brown said. The alternative perspective is crucial these days, he said. “Watch the news out there now: Buffalo shootings, critical race theory, voter identification. The mainstream media hasn’t done a good job of conveying how harmful this is to black people. Having a former president telling lies about how the election was stolen. Black voters are hurt, and white journalists and white media are not doing a good job of telling the story.

McCray said many US destinations that attract tourists and dollars with their casinos, shows, restaurants and hotels have similar issues to Pine Bluff, but their images don’t have the same impact on their bottom line.

“Let’s look at Hot Springs, New Orleans, Las Vegas, all the places where people go to have fun, spend money on recreation, enjoy great food and great music. These places are also among the most dangerous places in America. We get coverage that portrays us as dangerous, but not coverage of our property, music, cultural history, and Civil War history. This part is missing. The part where Pine Bluff and the Delta are good places to do business is left out. And that means nobody wants to visit, nobody wants to invest if the tilt is constantly negative.

“The editorial angle we’ll take is what local people are trying to deal with these issues.”

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