The Separate But Equal News Network

Why J.C. Watts' black television venture is a bad idea.

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It may seem ironic to read these comments on the black-oriented Web site The Root, but take a look at the news articles on the home page. They are taken from major newspapers such as the Washington Post and New York Times—not written to cater to any particular race. The black-oriented commentary and features are fine and are irrelevant to the point.

Besides the obvious opportunity costs of investing the hundreds of millions of dollars it will cost to start and maintain the network that could be spent elsewhere, the question begging an answer is what exactly constitutes “black news.”

There are things that happen to black people in black communities that don’t really have an impact on the rest of America, but that doesn’t mean they should be provincial to black America. News happening in America is American news, and it should be everyone’s concern.

When Hurricane Katrina destroyed the overwhelmingly-black lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, it was reported as an American story and not just for blacks. Likewise, the recent tornadoes in predominantly-white Iowa are not just a concern for white America.

There is quite simply no purely black news just like there is not a purely black sun, moon and stars. There are certainly aspects of stories that may be of more interest to people of a certain race, but it does not justify setting up separate but equal news networks by race in order to discuss it.

Division among the races is a favorite topic of the major media. How are we going to overcome divisions if blacks are supposed to have their own channel for news and the current news channels are to be regarded as only expressing the views of the white majority?

If J.C. Watts wants to see more positive reporting about blacks, he should use his considerable cache to get the heads of Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and the major networks on the phone. Perhaps one or more of them will give him a show.

Luring black America to a segregated source of news, however, is not the answer.

Mychal Massie is the chairman of the Project 21 black leadership network.