AfroLA will officially launch its digital news product in early 2023. But, we’re already publishing stories right now. Don't look to us to keep pace with the breaking news cycle. Part of what makes AfroLA unique is our approach: Los Angeles news with nuance that takes a step back to contextualize its impact, especially for the Black community.
AfroLA covers greater Los Angeles through the lens of the Black community. We’re tired of tropes and assumptions about Black people in the media. We’re tired of local news that doesn’t scratch the surface of the communities they cover. We want news with nuance and context and narratives from people you might not normally hear from or about.
AfroLA’s mission is to find, celebrate and share intersectionality and universality in the Black experience. “Afro Angeleno,” or AfroLA, celebrates diversity in backgrounds and unity in culture and experiences within L.A. and beyond.
“Afro” is also a nod to the change in identity language during the Civil Rights era and rise of the Black Power movement. We’re Black, proud and make no apologies for either. AfroLA leans into the fact that no form of Blackness is a monolith. We are who we are – no matter what shade our skin is or where we call home. AfroLA celebrates it all without pause.
We are: Unapologetic. Black. Los Angeles.
AfroLA was born from resistance and persistence. Two journalists, a South L.A. transplant and one raised in the Inland Empire, swapped war stories over drinks: the media industry’s performative racial reckoning; hollow DEI efforts that continue to fail journalists and communities of color; why there are news beats and initiatives for most race/ethnicities except... These problems aren’t unique to L.A. But, the pair’s outrage was largely because these problems could be found in a place so richly diverse as Los Angeles: A city of neighborhoods and nooks and crannies with people and heritages from around the globe couldn’t manage to imagine diversity past the largest, most visible groups.
As a Black woman and a white man, these journalists’ outrage simmered at different degrees because of lived experiences. Regardless, their discontent with the status quo turned cocktail napkin scheming into a detailed plan to disrupt the Los Angeles-area media community.
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Despite the high visibility and preponderance of media organizations that exist in the greater Los Angeles area, there are large communities – millions of people – that are underreported on or entirely overlooked by local media. This oversight and neglect has created a de facto news desert for Black Angelenos in America’s second-largest city. The scarce coverage that does exist largely contributes to and reinforces negative stereotypes. News and narratives about Black people and the area’s Black community – in South Los Angeles and ethnic enclaves across L.A. County – lack nuance, context and fail to normalize the lives of everyday people.
The Black community is more than “Black girl magic” and “Black boy joy.” Rather than honing in on Black exceptionalism – the so-called “model minority” complex – Black people should read stories about themselves and their everyday lived experiences, not the artificial stereotypes and unachievable expectations of perfection that society hoists upon them. AfroLA aims to characterize Black people as people living their lives and the extraordinary stories that can stem from those experiences.
Who We Are
Dana Amihere Founder & Executive Director
Dana Amihere is a designer, developer and data journalist. She left conventional newsrooms in 2021 to start Code Black Media, a digital media consultancy that lives at the intersection of data, design and equity. She previously worked in data reporting, interactive design and news apps development for Southern California Public Radio/KPCC + LAist, The Dallas Morning News, Pew Research Center and The Baltimore Sun.
Amihere has taught data journalism and interaction design across the country at conferences and colleges. She currently teaches at UC Berkeley.
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Steven Smith Director of Operations
Steven Smith is an independent media consultant who specializes in developing audience and operational strategies for multiplatform local news products and organizations. He worked as production coordinator and project manager at The Long Beach Post. He was integral in providing development and operational support to the launch of Long Beach Post Español and the Post’s audience engagement team and agency services.
What Sets AfroLA Apart
Our approach to reporting is to tell stories through an undeniably Black lens, rather than with establishment media’s persistent white gaze. So, what does that mean?
Our goal is to provide coverage of issues that matter to anyone who reads it with a distinctly Black voice. An AfroLA story will be understood at different levels depending on the experience and worldview you bring to it. Read closely and you’ll find everything from nods to Biggie lyrics to lesser-known lines from Langston Hughes. Even if you don’t pick up on these types of references, the nuts and bolts of our reporting will always be accessible. But, you’ll find certain aspects of stories more recognizable or relatable depending on the context you bring to it as an individual.
We believe coverage of the Black community that doesn’t go beyond fashion and beauty, food, entertainment, music or sports is extractive. It covers what Black people can offer the rest of society in terms of their skills, intellect and bodies. We believe that covering what matters to the Black community must encompass more than the cultural contributions of Black people.
Our areas of coverage are determined and will evolve according to the needs and values of the communities we serve. We strive to amplify voices and highlight stories as a collaborative effort, not a transaction.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are the foundation of AfroLA, but so is who is doing the storytelling and who those stories are for. The AfroLA newsroom is built upon more than the work of conventionally-trained journalists.
We want to work with the community rather than talk about it or at it. To that end, a large portion of our digital content will be produced by Black-identifying contributors from the local communities being covered. These folks will include:
Students from local youth programs, high schools and colleges – with an emphasis on the area’s many community colleges who are often left out of the classroom-to-newsroom recruitment pipeline
Community members with interesting perspectives and insights on the way things are, used to be or could be.
Our role will be to coach and empower these community writers to refine their final product and build their platform.
Free news for all, forever
People can’t use our news if they can’t read it. We believe that in order to serve all people equitably, high-quality and relevant information about our communities must be free and accessible to all without the barriers of a paywall or paid subscription. We are committed to building an access-first news model where financial sustainability is not attained at the cost of accessibility.
Inform and educate
Our content should always strive to inform and educate people within and outside of Black communities. We commit to creating content that provides context and nuance to existing narratives, challenges stereotypes and represents diverse experiences.
Our value is not determined by our financial statements, awards or page views. It’s measured by the value we provide to the communities we serve. We commit to act in the interest of our readers and the Black communities inside and around L.A. Advertisers, funders, politicians, celebrities and corporations will always take a backseat to serving our community.
The Year Ahead
Information needs assessment
Before we finalize editorial focus areas, we’re conducting an information needs assessment. A digital site and email/SMS newsletter are planned for AfroLA, but we want to make sure that we’re not only covering the topics and news the community needs, we’re distributing it in a way that will be useful and accessible.
We’re working with libraries, churches, schools and community groups to hold “listening sessions” to gain data and insights from residents in a minimally invasive way. We don’t want to come, get what we need and leave. We hope that these sessions and interactions serve as initial introductions to long-lasting relationships.
Fundraising and development
A sustainable future for AfroLA is our ultimate goal. We’re actively applying for grants and seeking large-dollar donations to help fund our launch and initial operations. But, we’re also doing outreach to community members for smaller one-time donations that can also make a big impact. Our long-term sustainability is dependent upon philanthropic and grassroots support.
Build partnerships and community connections
We know we can't accomplish the goals and mission of AfroLA on our own. We’re already in talks with other news organizations – with local, regional and national audiences – to build a pipeline for the stories and issues affecting Black Angelenos to have reach beyond L.A. We aim to publish at least one investigative or enterprise project with a partner by mid-2023 and to do so with increasing depth and frequency thereafter.
Support & Sustain AfroLA
We’re passing the collection plate. To hire essential staff and launch a digital product in early 2023, we need to raise $500,000.
To reach this level, we need financial backing not only from philanthropic donors but also community members who believe in this work and are willing to pitch in to support it.
Our hope is that at least 20% of that funding, or $100,000, will come from the people we’re working hard to serve in our community. A donation that’s as little as $5 can still make a difference.
Will you help us reach our goal?
AfroLA is fiscally sponsored by Independent Arts & Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, while we work to become an independent legal nonprofit entity. Support our work with a tax-deductible donation made through Flipcause.
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