New York, NY— It is no secret African-American journalists are poorly represented within the media industry most notably at major sporting and other entertainment events. Case in point, I attended the 2017 Women’s Final Four in Dallas TX, and there were only five African American reporters in the South Carolina Gamecocks locker room after winning the National Championship.
Has the media process reverted to the days of Wendell Smith? For those of you who might not know who Wendell Smith is, he was an African-American sportswriter that covered Jackie Robinson in the 1940s. Not only was he not allowed in the press box, but he was also relegated to the bench because of the color of his skin. Smith covered baseball’s Negro League teams the Pittsburgh Crawford’s and Homestead Gray’s for the Pittsburgh Courier. He attempted to join the Baseball Writers’ Association of America but was denied entry due to his affiliation with the Courier because it was not a mainstream paper outlet.
Media credentials are issued to publications that provide stadium access to accredited media personnel covering the teams within the venue. However, if you are following the rule book to the letter, credentials are not allowed to admit anyone under 18 years of age.
4.0 Sports & Entertainment has been an accredited media member for the past six years having covered events such as the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, The Heisman, The Maxwell’s, The Walter Camp Awards, WNBA, The New York & Connecticut Opens, NFL Drafts, Entertainment events, and numerous national functions to just to name a few. During our time in the business, we’ve been taken aback at how event personnel and SIDs’ determine the media credentialing process. 4.0 Sports has received reasons for denial with the following examples below:
1) Minimal spacing for the event, while other entities were allowed access thereafter.
2) No credentialing allowed for independent websites, but specific independent sites and college students were granted access.
3) Claims of universities having a vast media presence, yet permitting family members, friends, and ex-players to have media access.
4.0 Sports and Entertainment has been fortunate over the years to have built its network with colleagues who oppose these wrongdoings have exposed open spaces at various events that we were denied to.
The questions left asked were “is it based on skin color, the body of work, or is it the good ol’ boys’ system who refuse to let one in the club?
The sad part to this all is most media personnel will deny someone access just because they are not familiar with the publication one writes for and they don’t do their due diligence on the publication before rendering a response. The truth of the matter is universities and pro entities will let anyone who is deemed qualified permittable access, not just those who warrant credentials. Some will make up rules and regulations as they see fit. Irregardless the size of the outlet, no publication should ever occupy more than three seats in a press box despite how large the circulation is.
Famous celebrities including legendary athletes Michael Jordan, LL Cool J, Nick Cannon, LeBron James, pop singer Taylor Swift, Gregg Popovich, Muffy McGraw, and daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King have been weighing in on recent US protests of social injustices and inequality within Black America.
On Monday, basketball legend Michael Jordan released a statement via the Jordan brand Twitter account voicing his pain, frustration, and outrage over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 after a Minneapolis policeman knelt on his neck for several minutes while pinned on the ground handcuffed.
Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, also tweeted Monday stating “With the fierce urgency of now, America must begin the strategic, focused work of supplanting racism and white supremacy with truth, equity, justice, and love. 400+ years of the trauma of racism is 400+ years too long. It never should have been.”
Company brands like Apple, Bank of America, Ben & Jerry’s, HBO, Hulu, Levi’s, Ralph Lauren, Reebok, Mercedes Benz, Under Armour, Nike, and Netflix are joining in the fight to stop the systemic race issues that pervade our country for decades.
There is lack of respect for the Black media publications who deserve to be treated with the same respect as their white counterparts.
The North Face
“We know and acknowledge that for too long, racism has made the world unequal and unsafe. We recognize the pain and suffering racism has caused and are making a commitment to be part of the solution. We are standing up because we owe it to everyone affected, ourselves, and you.”
Over the last several years having covered numerous events we realized we were denied not because of our body of work but because of the color of our skin. We are hoping going forward that America will change its perceptions and stance when dealing with Black publications.
Some of Rutgers football players and head coach Greg Schiano were featured in a video titled “#ChopForChange” released Monday that calls for unity and an effort “ to break the cycle of racism, injustice, and silence.”
“WE STAND FOR EQUALITY.
One playing field. One voice. One future where we’re truly equal. Because united, we win.”