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Grand Rapid Black Media Professionals Gather to Build Relationships, and Collaborate

September 22, 2023

By: Zaria Phillips, News Producer, WXMI-TV (Grand Rapids)

“This was so needed” was the overall sentiment during Sunday’s (9/17) West Michigan Black Journalists Brunch, hosted at Grand Rapids’ New Holland Brewery.

Nearly 20 journalists, on-air talent and behind-the-scenes staff, from all 4 stations in the market sat over a feast to discuss their upbringings, inspirations & experiences working as Black media professionals in largely conservative WASP West Michigan. The brunch was primarily a casual meeting that almost felt like a family reunion.

People who hadn’t met intimately, but were familiar after years of watching each other through screens, breaking bread with questions they’d always been itching to ask.

"Girl, how did you do mornings for 10 years?” And sharing tips for working with a family and making time for a social life.

It was all inspired by an unexpected sit down between me & morning show anchor at our competitor Donovan Long, a close friend of an acquaintance.

It quickly devolved into a lengthy and energetic venting session, where we learned many of the beasts we battle in our newsrooms, shared the same lineage -- an ignorance of issues important to Black people living in West Michigan.

And so, in hopes of pulling back the veil on these truths and building a community cushion for future Black journos, I sent out cold emails & DM’s to strangers across the DMA.

Fortunately, I was met with enthusiasm -- “We’ve been waiting for something like this," many people said.

And the hours-long get-together wrapped with wishes for a sequel, and plans for provoking more diversity in the news media for West Michigan.

For now, I can say the short-term mission was accomplished!

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