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New Arkansas media outlet aims to amplify minority voices in newsroom

Arkansas Delta Informer
Publisher Wesley Brown says the Arkansas Delta Informer seeks to give a voice to minority populations in Pine Bluff and all of southeast Arkansas.

Arkansas has a new, independent online news publication that aims to represent minorities in the media. The Arkansas Delta Informer is Pine Bluff’s first Black-owned news portal that will report on local, state, and national issues from a grassroots level.

According to a news release, local civic leader and CEO of the Delta Informer, Michael McCray, led a group of community activists in Pine Bluff to give a voice to the African American community on a diverse range of issues.

Wesley Brown, publisher of the Delta Informer and the Little Rock-based Daily Record, said the group of community activists approached him about how Black people were negatively portrayed in the media throughout the Pine Bluff and Delta region. Using his 45 years of experience in the news business, Brown and the activists worked together over the last six months to develop a plan for the news site.

“My role is to help them handle the news side, to get them up and running, and get to a point where they can begin to hire an editor and have some part-time reporters,” Brown said. “I’m just kind of a partner to help them get off the ground and then hopefully at some point, I’ll just hand it off to them and they can continue to run the news organization.”

For now, Brown said the Delta Informer will be a general news organization that will cover anything from politics to current events in the local communities of Pine Bluff, southeast Arkansas, and the Delta region.

Brown said the mission of this publication is to tell unbiased news and seek the truth, which he said has been a problem in the media, especially when it comes to minorities.

“We’re in a period where a lot of lies are in the media parading as truth. A lot of the times, it affects us. You’ve got the critical race theory, voter ID, and the lie that the election was stolen simply because a record number of Black people came to the polls, and mainstream media, in which I’m a part of, has not told the truth on those matters. It puts us Black people in a negative light,” Brown said.

Starting his reporting career in the late 1970s, Brown has since worked on Wall Street, for the Tulsa World daily newspaper, became the publisher of Black Consumer News of Arkansas, and more. Despite decades of experience in the media, Brown said he is still usually the first and often the only Black person in the newsroom.

“There’s a perspective that’s missing, there’s a voice that’s missing,” Brown said.

“Our state newspaper here in Little Rock doesn’t have any diversity, never has.”

Brown hopes he will see more diversity in the newsroom because issues that affect minorities are not being told from their perspective.

“Let’s take an issue like voter ID that happened at the State Capitol. Some of those stories didn’t even have a Black perspective. All of those 25 voter ID laws that were passed by the legislature affected us—it disenfranchised Black people. Most of the laws in the General Assembly that are passed often have a negative impact. Critical race theory, policies on the school board, all those are issues that affect us and we should have a voice in those conversations,” Brown said.

The publication was launched May 14, just over a week ahead of the primary elections, which the Delta Informer plans to cover. Brown said he’s read stories about some of the candidates that would have been viewed as outrages 10 or 15 years ago.

“You have a record number of Black women in Arkansas that are running. Why isn't that story on the front page? You have two, historic Black candidates running in the Democratic Party, plus his brother running for attorney general. That’s a unique story. There’s a lot of unique stories in the political process that are not being told. There’s a lot of dog whistles of racism in the races that’s not being brought out,” Brown said.

Brown and McCray are also working to develop an opinion portal called the Delta Perspective to offer different views on race, justice, and other matters in Black and minority communities. Brown said he hopes to recruit an editor and news staff over the next few weeks.