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Announcing the First Black Media Product Strategy Cohort

  • By Newmark J-School Staff
Twelve Black-led newsrooms logos and headshots for each of their newsroom leaders in black and white.

Twelve Black-led newsrooms from across the United States have been selected to be part of the inaugural cohort of the Black Media Product Strategy Program. This six-month, tuition-free program will train Black-owned newsrooms to build product strategies for digital transformation, audience growth and sustainability. 

This program is made possible by a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and is a result of a collaboration between J+ and the Center for Community Media’s Black Media Initiative at CUNY’s Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. The cohort is made up of various kinds of newsrooms, from digital-first organizations to legacy publications, from recently-launched solopreneurs to decades-old large newsrooms. These newsrooms represent and report on communities across the United States including California, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, as well as diasporic communities in Africa and the Caribbean. 

“We’re incredibly excited to welcome our inaugural cohort of Black Media Product Strategy on the 195th anniversary of the founding of the Black Press in America. Rooted in the ethos that was initially laid out in the Freedom’s Journal, these newsrooms represent why Black media is still so critical,” said Cheryl Thompson-Morton, director of the Black Media Initiative.

She added: “It is our hope that this program provides the support these newsrooms need to ensure that Black media continues to plead our own cause for generations to come.” 

For the next six months, these newsroom teams will learn about product thinking in news from a roster of Black industry experts and product practitioners. The instructors and coaches will share insights gained from their diverse backgrounds in independent Black press, startups, legacy companies and nonprofits.

Meet the 2022 newsroom cohort for the Black Media Product Strategy program:

  • Ark Republic, based in New Jersey, is a news agency committed to providing rich, robust narratives often overlooked or under-reported by mainstream news. Yolanda Aguilera, Newsroom Editor and Publicist; and Dr. Kaia Shivers, Editor-in-Chief and President, will participate in the program. 
  • BK Reader, based in New York, is a digital, daily local news site covering central and east Brooklyn, launched in 2013. C. Zawadi Morris, Founder and Publisher, will participate in the program. 
  • Fun Times Magazine, based in Pennsylvania, serves the African American and Caribbean communities in the Mid-Atlantic States. Eric Nzeribe, Publisher; Amadi Victoria Chinwendu, Executive Assistant to the Publisher; and Obianuju Nwagu, Data Analyst and Content Creator, will participate in the program.
  • Harvey World Herald provides in-depth reporting on education, business, public safety, health, politics, and entertainment in the City of Harvey, Illinois. Founder Amethyst J. Davis will participate in the program. 
  • Houston Defender Network, based in Texas, serves Black Houstonians with local, state and national news focusing on social justice, politics, education, health, and economic equity issues. Sonny Messiah Jiles, CEO, Reshonda Tate, Managing Editor, Aswad Walker, Associate Editor, and Laura Onyeneho, Education Editor will participate in the program. 
  • Northend Agents Newspaper, based in Connecticut, is a news source that amplifies the voices of marginalized communities and curates content in the greater Hartford area. Endera Allen Stevens, Social media manager/ Editorial assistant, will participate in the program. 
  • OkayMedia, the parent company of Okayplayer and OkayAfrica, is based in New York. Okayplayer is the progressive voice of Black culture through the amplification of music, art, film and politics, while OkayAfrica creates content for proud and progressive millennial Africans to highlight and celebrate the contribution of their influence on global culture. Dimas Sanfiorenzo, Acting Editor & Chief of Okayplayer & OkayAfrica; Eljiah Watson, Senior News and Culture Editor of Okayplayer; and Zee Ngema, Culture Staff Writer of OkayAfrica, will participate in the program. 
  • The Atlanta Voice, based in Georgia, has been informing, educating and engaging one of America’s most dynamic and influential African-American communities for the past 56 years. Janis Ware, Publisher; Richard Dunn, Chief Operating Officer; and Dawn Montgomery, Chief Brand Officer, will participate in the program. 
  • The Black Wall Street Times, based in Oklahoma, is an independent Black-owned and managed national news publication committed to elevating the voices and stories of Black Americans. Nehemiah D. Frank, Founder & Editor-in-chief; Deon Osborne, Managing Editor; and Mike Creef, Senior Writer & Content Creator, will participate in the program.
  • The Community Voice has served Kansas’ African-American community for the past 27 years and has become a progressive voice across the state and into Missouri. Bonita Gooch, Editor-in-Chief & Owner; and Kurt Oswald, Publisher, will participate in the program.
  • The Haitian Times, based in New York, aims to bridge the generational and geographical gaps among Haitians. Cherrell Angervil, Audience Engagement Director, will participate in the program.
  • The San Diego Voice &  Viewpoint Newspaper, based in California, is San Diego’s largest Black-owned newspaper and has reported on local and national news from a Black perspective for more than six decades. Latanya West, Managing Editor, will participate in the program.