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In March, Pew Research Center reported that only six percent of working journalists in the U.S. are Black. And as far back as 10 years ago, analysts found that of all working journalists, Black people took the biggest hit as the media landscape shifted. Companies like Vice, Sports Illustrated, and Pitchfork, are among the many that have laid off a significant number of writers and editors, with Black writers and creatives most heavily hit.

In January, the Los Angeles Times laid off 115 employees, and 33 percent were Black.  In 2020, as reported by Columbia Journalism Review, the Washington Post saw similar losses, as one in three of the employees who left its newsroom were Black. These losses are also affecting online-based publications, including ones that cater to Black audiences like  Okayplayer, and via Paramount. Most recently, at the top of the month, Allen Media Group–a Black-owned media company–is the most recent to announced layoffs. Founder and CEO Byron Allen publicly shared the staff reduction plan,  including losses at their Black-community-centered online magazine theGrio. But this hard turn of events is not the first time Black journalists have seen times like these–and they met those times with ingenuity. 

There are opportunities to demonstrate incredible muscularity, resilience and adaptability.

There’s an urgent story to tell about what downsizing Black journalists means for content that accurately reflects Black current and historical events and lives—and about America in general. But in the wake of widespread layoffs within media and journalism and its disproportionate impact on Black media professionals,  likely the most urgent story to tell is about employment—and the response to the shift in media that began in the late 1990’s. The  Pew Research Center reported that the number of Black journalists working at U.S. daily newspapers alone saw a 40 percent decrease between 1997 and 2013, with nearly 1,200 Black writers losing their jobs. 

newspaper stack

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What the current downsizing moment should tell everyone who is a Black journalist, writer or creative is that for all the challenges  being faced, there are also opportunities to demonstrate  incredible muscularity, resilience and adaptability. When the industry shifted harshly before, many Black media professionals found opportunities to showcase their skills on new landscapes, and make a living again.  

Here, NewsOne spotlights the creativity and inventiveness of earlier Black journalists who have provided pathways to success—while still advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within and beyond the media industry. From launching independent ventures to cultivating digital communities, they not only adapted to change but also drove it, amplifying underrepresented voices and narratives along the way. Here are lessons they’ve left for others and companies that are hiring right now!

NABJ 2019 Convention


First Things First: Ask For A Lifeline

There are outlets that assist Black journalists in finding work. Writers of Color, established in 2015, is a site and social media platform dedicated to posting full-time and freelance opportunities aimed specifically at Black and POC writers. Writers are also encouraged to join the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) to help them with job searches, networking, and skill enhancement. Its annual convention will be held July 31 to August 4 in Chicago. For those interesting in looking in whole new directions, there are good alternatives.

Social Media Positions

Companies are making room for positions that utilize social media. Businesses and publications use platforms like X (f.k.a. Twitter), Facebook, TikTok, and others as unparalleled opportunities for audience engagement, and to enhance their brand visibility and recognition. As creative directors or short-form video producers, writers can leverage their storytelling prowess and communication skills in a dynamic digital landscape. 

Current Openings at: Paramount, The Pratt Institute, Complex, Associated Press, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Journalists excel in crafting clear, concise, and engaging written content. Whether it’s articles, features, or investigative pieces, reporters are adept at compellingly communicating complex ideas. Therefore, their skills can be transferable to a career in copywriting. In copywriting, storytelling is a powerful tool for connecting with audiences, evoking emotion, and driving action. Whether crafting brand stories, product narratives, or marketing campaigns, journalists bring a unique perspective to copywriting, infusing copy with authenticity and depth. From SEO copywriting, Brand Copywriting, to PR copywriting and Social Media Copywriting, the marketplace for the position can be something good for reporters looking for work. 

Current Openings at: Warner Bros. Discovery, Amazon, Ralph Lauren, Hearst

Grant Writing

Grant writers draft, finalize and submit proposals to secure funding from government agencies and private and corporate foundations. These proposals, known as grant applications, outline the purpose, goals, objectives, and budget of a project or program, along with a compelling case for why the organization deserves funding to support its initiatives. A journalist can use their skills as storytellers, researchers, and interviewers to transition nicely into grant writing. 

Current Openings at: NAACP Legal Defense Fund, World Relief, Princeton University, Scion Staffing

Ghost Writing

The rap industry makes ghostwriting something that carries a negative connotation. But in the rest of the world, it’s respected, needed and wanted (think: celebrity memoirs)—and can be quite lucrative.  People need help writing, from memoirs to speeches. Those services are provided by the Washington Writers Network. With ghostwriting, can help other creatives and innovators elevate their stories all while you continue to earn a living being your own best creative self.

Current Openings at:: Kevin Anderson & Associates, Upwork, Forbes Books

See Also:

Morehouse College, Ida B. Wells Society Team Up To Empower The Next Generation Of Journalists

If Black Media Doesn’t Tell The Truth About This Nation, It Won’t Be Told

The post Career Pivots For Out Of Work Black Journalists appeared first on NewsOne.

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