Washington Post: Being A Black Man

Jun 4, 2007  •  Post A Comment

In the online and print series “Being a Black Man,” the Washington Post set out to cover all aspects of the titular topic. The goal was to address the question, What precisely does it mean to be a black man in society today?
To attempt to answer that broad question, the newspaper gathered the troops, enlisting several dozen journalists and marshaling print, photographic and Web resources. The paper then produced a full multimedia series that ran online and in the paper over nine months starting in 2006.
The project aimed to defy stereotypes and produce an expansive picture of being a black man in America today, said Ben de la Cruz, the senior video journalist for WashingtonPost.com.
“In our introduction we talk about how black men have been the subject of all these books and people have this fear/fascination/ interest complex with black men,” he said. “We thought it was a subject where we could create a mosaic.”
The Web site presented videos on topics as diverse as being a black gay man, growing up black and fatherless, and how black women view black men. The series also included interactive features such as polls on perceptions of black men and women, and white men and women, as well as video retrospectives on black musicians, artists, athletes and educators.
The paper conceived the project after a group of African American reporters asked what the impact of the 1995 Million Man March was more than a decade later, Mr. de la Cruz said.
“At the kickoff there was an effort to write an overview, such as why are we asking the questions and here are some of the answers,” he explained. “There were videos that accompanied a timeline with milestones for black men in the United States. Then we went into more specific themes, and one was incarceration and why there are so many black men in jail. We tackled that in video form.”
The series generated a range of responses. The site received more than 4,000 e-mails and blog entries over the course of the series. Many praised the project, but others suggested different directions or issues to address.
“It was a good dialogue,” Mr. de la Cruz said.
The series is being turned into a book that will be released in August, he said.

One Comment

  1. The thing is – this wont work efficiently in any way. Crazy idea, EOT!

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