& A: Joe
Joe Davidson is a political columnist with BET.Com, editor of the Joint
Center for Political and Economic Studies Focus Magazine and a commentator
for National Public Radio. A professional journalist since 1971, he has worked
at several newspapers including The Wall Street Journal as a correspondent in
South Africa and Washington. He was interviewed by Seth Effron.
Sarah M. J. Welch
Q. How important are ethnic media in covering politics and public
A. Its very important because it is targeted. We try to give our
audience more information about specific topics and people than they certainly
get in the general news media. For example, when Im covering the State of
the Union address, Ill focus on those aspects of the speech of concern to
African Americans. I look at those issues in a way that will tell my readers how
those issues or decisions will affect them directly. Youre more targeted
with the reporting and the information that you provide in reports. Thats
a service that the general media cannot provide.
Q. So, how will your reporting, on John Kerrys acceptance speech
for example, be different from reporting in mainstream media?
A. Ill be looking at what Kerry has to say about issues that are
of particular interest to black Americans. There are a lot of issues where there
is an overlap. However, one of the things that will be interesting is how prominent
[Kerry] makes those issues in direct relationship to concerns that black Americans
faces. The [BET/CBS News] poll [in July] clearly indicated that jobs is the No.
1 issue in black America.
If he only talks about tax credits or about jobs
at home, thats not going to be specific enough for the black community.
I think that while he can count on getting nine out of 10 black votes,
the question is how many people -- specifically black people -- will turn out.
Kerry needs to come up with a jobs program where black people can see it will
directly benefit them.
Q. How do you feel members of the minority press are treated compared
with the mainstream media?
A. This week Ive been trying to interview Barack Obama and havent
gotten those calls returned. If I still worked for The Wall Street Journal, I
would have those calls returned. BET has a bad reputation because there is so
much booty-shaking on the network. To some extent, that perception is definitely
understandable. Those of us who labor in the news and analysis side suffer with
criticism that really doesnt have anything to do with the news product.