(May 11, 2022 – St. Paul, MN) — BLCK Press, an independent news organization headed by Georgia Fort, announced today that it is expanding its footprint to create a newsroom of multimedia storytellers dedicated to changing the racial narrative in Minnesota.
Under the leadership of Fort, early career BIPOC journalists will gain hands-on experience and mentorship while earning a livable wage. The new initiative will address the lack of opportunities in the Twin Cities metro area for reporters of color who are just starting their careers, allowing them to gain skills and experience without moving far from home and their communities. It will also help Twin Cities media outlets address a significant lack of diversity in their reporting ranks, providing them with a local source of talented multimedia journalists.
“Mainstream media outlets are beginning to come to terms with their implicit racial bias, which affects not only the stories they report but also the talent they attract,” said Fort. “As the Twin Cities continues to be at the center of a racial reckoning fueled by the murder of George Floyd and other police killings, we must ensure that these racially charged stories are presented fairly. It is vital that we increase the number of BIPOC reporters and opportunities to shape the narrative in our communities.”
This BLCK Press expansion is being launched with the support of a major grant from the Minneapolis Foundation.
Fort has hired veteran Twin Cities journalist Marianne Combs to serve as her news director. Combs and Fort worked together in 2021 on “Racial Reckoning: The Arc of Justice,” a ten-month journalism project that provided on-the-job training for women of color reporting on the Derek Chauvin murder trial and other high profile stories. As part of that project they co-produced the radio documentary “George Floyd: A Year Later.”
BLCK Press is partnering with Indigenous Roots, SPEAK MPLS and ThreeSixty Journalism to identify and train young talent in audio, video and web story production. Their stories will be broadcast on Twin Cities radio stations KRSM, WFNU and WEQY as well as on public access channels in Minneapolis and St. Paul, beginning May 11.
Five reporters have begun working with Fort this month. Their first reporting will be heard on KRSM, WFNU and WEQY on Wednesday, May 11. The length of their involvement with BLCK Press will remain flexible depending on the support they want and need.
About the Reporters
Faaya Adem is an Oromo American student journalist based in the Twin Cities who is passionate about uplifting diverse and marginalized communities through storytelling. Her work has appeared in the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, and ThreeSixty Journalism.
Aaliyah Demry is a Twin Cities journalist, photographer and videographer. The host of "The Fly Subject" radio show on KRSM, Demry creates content around pop culture and entertainment.
Chioma Uwagwu is a first-generation American of Nigerian heritage. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, Urban Creativity Scientific Journal, and the Racial Reckoning Project. She holds degrees in American Culture and Difference as well as Communication Studies from the University of St. Thomas.
Jasmine McBride is a Twin Cities-based storyteller and public speaker. Her work is rooted in the exploration of social intersections, amplifying collective shifts of perspective through film, photography, poetry, and journalism.
Kai Sanchez-Avila is studying journalism at the University of St. Thomas. She interned at the Pioneer Press in the summer of 2021 covering topics from the name change of Henry Sibley High School to a nonprofit giving access to free books for youth.
About BLCK Press
BLCK Press, founded by independent journalist Georgia Fort, is dedicated to creating opportunities for early career journalists of color, empowering them to tell authentic stories that transform the racial narrative. More information at https://www.blckpress.com.
About Georgia Fort
Georgia Fort is a two-time Emmy nominated media producer and television correspondent dedicated to changing the racial narrative in mainstream news. Her reporting has been published on CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS affiliates. Most recently she produced a short documentary “George Floyd: It Happened Here,” and co-directed and edited the award-winning documentary “Rondo: Beyond the Pavement” (now available on Amazon Prime). The Minnesota native has over a decade of broadcast experience that includes both local public radio and national commercial television. She has three daughters and is married to boxing gym owner and professional boxer Cerresso Fort.
About Marianne Combs
Marianne Combs is best known for her work as a reporter, producer and occasional host on MPR News. There she won multiple awards for her feature reporting and her investigative journalism. In 2020 she was named Journalist of the Year by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2017 Combs worked with ThreeSixty Journalism to create a radio news camp at MPR for high school students from diverse communities. In 2021 Combs served as the Managing News Editor for “Racial Reckoning: The Arc of Justice.”