Jamaal Finkley, the founder, CEO, and executive producer of Black-owned news channel BlackTree TV discussed the current landscape for Black journalists.
Finkley discussed how white news outlets receive fewer media opportunities than Black news platforms. He also explained how Black news outlets are still placed at the ends of press lines. Finkley also described how BlackTree TV’s most famous moment started a movement to end these long-standing inequities.
Finkley launched BlackTree TV as part of BlackTree Media, which he established in 1996. Finkley states that not much has changed for Black journalists or Black news outlets in the past ten years. Finkley says that the most significant change for Black journalists and all journalists has been the availability of technology.
“Nobody had cameras than the [news] photographers. A camera was all I needed, instead of a credential, email, or other information. Finkley stated that this was how Finkley found himself “breaking into carpets.” “Now everybody has cameras. When I needed to buy my first camera, it cost $8,700. This was a difficult amount to obtain for a young man.
Have the Black Journalists and Black News Outlets had a change in their playing fields since you began?
Finkley stated that he feels the support for Black media has changed from Black talent.
Finkley explained that “when I was there [working at the red carpet ]…I felt support from Black actors]; they were so happy for Black journalists that they would make certain they came to you.” However, Finkley stated today, “It’s almost like the three to four Black outlets are down there at the bottom of the line.”
An ex-BlackTree TV journalist, Jaleesa Lahay, asked Sterling K. Brown, actor, about the lack of media opportunities available to Black news channels versus white news stations.
“Are you aware that there were fewer opportunities for Black journalists than our white counterparts?” Do you believe there is a plan in Hollywood for ensuring that the media room begins to reflect the diversity we see in the industry? Lashay interrogated Brown at that time.
Did you notice a difference in how black news outlets are treated since BlackTree TV’s Viral Moment with Sterling K. Brown?
Finkley stated, “It wasn’t a moment of frustration that all of us were having on-the-floor,”
Finkley stated, “So, Jaleesa’s statement that…it opened eyes to some of the talents,” Finkley explained, adding that the COVID-19 epidemic “interrupted” the momentum behind raising awareness about Black news outlets that were not being acknowledged on the red carpets.
The viral moment led Brown TV and BlackTree TV to meet with Universal to discuss the issue.
August is National Black Business Month. What are the qualities a business should have that would make you return as a customer?
Finkley claimed that the Hidden Empire Film group donated money for Black-owned news outlets to support its productions during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Do you know who I’m going shout out?” Hidden Empire will be my shout. Hidden Empire Film Group. Hidden Empire Film Group. Finkley stated that she genuinely respected the gesture.