Black Journal (1968)

Black Journal is a monthly news magazine show that premiered on PBS in 1968. It was a highly regarded series with a black perspective that provided an outlet for black culture, politics, and history in interviews with public officials, entertainers, and community leaders as well as through documentary style broadcasts and short films. The show won an Emmy Award in 1969 for its sensational broadcasting.

Black Journal was unique in that it was one of the only black run news program on the television and also one of the only more nuanced representations of black people on television. It employed many black workers; with seventy five percent of its technical crew being black and ninety five percent of its production crew. Black Journal “challenged the status quo, resisted the mainstream constructions of blackness, and questioned the ruling power” (Acham 45). It also provided black people with various opinions in order to spark debate amongst them.

The show was extremely important for providing a voice to the black movement but was very limited in its reach because it was only on public broadcasting. It limit also severely suffered after 1970 because their funding was significantly cut. The show had to fight a tough battle against President Nixon when he demanded that the program be cancelled because of the ideologies it presented. However, because the show was important to so many, there was a large public outcry against the Nixon administration which questioned Washington’s ties to corporations. This negative publicity for the White House kept the show on the air. When host and president of the National Association of Black Media Producers, Tony Brown, took over, he decided to take the show to commercial television in 1977 and rename it Tony Brown’s Journal which is still on television today.

http://www.thirteen.org/broadcastingwhileblack/video/black-journal-in-1969/

Written by Lee Scandinaro

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