In an industry that has long struggled to highlight the voices of Blacks across the globe, another startup has joined the battle to bring news of the African Diaspora to the media’s main stage.
After years of “push back” against article ideas that focused on the voices of the African Diaspora, Nsenga Burton took matters into her own hands.
The award-winning media entrepreneur launched The Burton Wire in 2012 and officially joined the battle against the dominance of white voices in the media industry.
Before Burton was the owner of her own media organization, she wrote for other publications who often rejected many of her pitched story ideas that focused on the interest of people of African descent.
“I also wanted to highlight news stories that reflected the many experiences of people of African descent worldwide,” Burton told Atlanta Black Star in an interview. “I got a lot of push back and resistance from editors about stories that I pitched about Black and brown global populations as well as stories about African-Americans that didn’t fall into sports or entertainment news categories.”
With mainstream media posing incredibly high barriers to entry for Blacks, the Internet has become the dominant point of entry for people of color to add diversity to news topics and shed light on the issues that they face in their own communities.
“I created a destination for people that wanted this type of news—people living here in the continental United States and abroad,” she said. “I knew what I wanted to see in the news…so I created it.”
Burton explained that The Burton Wire gives priority to a group of voices that “are not necessarily valued by advertisers, cultural critics or society.”
According to Burton, who also serves as editor-at-large for TheRoot.com, her website will fill the void of content online that not only focuses on “African-American users” but takes a particular interest in “Black and brown global populations as users,” while also elevating “philanthropy in the news cycle” and promoting “cultural events, activities and news stories that are often not covered deeply or consistently by larger outlets.”
“The Burton Wire helps people learn more about diverse cultures throughout the African Diaspora…and offers global perspectives on many national and international issues and events,” Burton added.
The introduction and growth of such online content is key to revolutionizing the media industry and forcing even mainstream TV and radio stations to take a closer look at the issues Black people face all across the globe.
Currently, African-Americans alone represent nearly 13 percent of the U.S. population but less than 10 percent have any ownership or involvement with American media – leaving news coverage and agendas up to white people who may have no knowledge of or are unsympathetic to issues of the Black community on a global scale.
“If you consider yourself a global citizen with a free mind and an indomitable spirit, then this site is for you,” a message on TheBurtonWire.com reads.
While the website is relatively new when compared to other media outlets, it managed to pull in 500,000 views in 2013.
It has also been recognized by The National Association of Black Journalists, thus earning Burton the Ray Taliaferro Entrepreneurial Spirit Award.
The annual award is granted to “an entrepreneurial venture that informs, engages and empowers a local, national, or global audience of readers and listeners.”
In addition to launching The Burton Wire and serving as editor-at-large at TheRoot.com, Burton is also the Chair and Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Goucher College and Executive Director of the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs. She has been a consistent go-to commentator for major media outlets such as CNN and is currently working on a book that will take a closer look at the relationship between race and reality television.