It’s Official: We Have a New Center for Community and Ethnic Media

Garry Pierre-Pierre

The CUNY Board of Trustees has approved the creation of a Center for Community and Ethnic Media to be housed at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. The Center, which will be financed initially by over $1.6 million in grants from various foundations, will serve as a hub of research, training, and professional support for community and ethnic media outlets in the New York City metropolitan region.

“As a formally authorized CUNY center, we will now have additional credibility with potential funders and greater visibility with the constituents we seek to serve,” said Executive Director Garry Pierre-Pierre. “It’s a wonderful validation of all the hard work that has been done by the Center’s staff and adds to our momentum.”

Approval by the CUNY Trustees comes almost two years after the J-School began raising money for a center to serve the city’s vibrant community and ethnic press, which comprises more than 350 publications and broadcast outlets. In addition to providing digital training to the journalists, the J-School acquired what is now Voices of NY, an online news aggregator. It also took over responsibility for administering the Ippies awards, which honor journalistic excellence in the media sector.

The resolution passed by the Trustees states the following:

“Ethnic media outlets provide a cultural, political, and educational lifeline to the 36 percent of the city’s population that is foreign-born. Of those, 1.8 million residents (23 percent of the population) speak little or no English. Ethnic media serve as a bridge between new arrivals and more established immigrants and ensure that the next generation, though assimilated, remains connected to its heritage.

The city’s ethnic press is matched in importance by a vibrant neighborhood-focused press. There are dozens of small community newspapers, public access cable stations and, more recently, blogs that provide timely, hyperlocal information to targeted neighborhoods in New York City. Many of these communities are home to underserved minority populations; often, the only journalistic coverage they receive is from the community press.

In support of the city’s community and ethnic media sector, our goals for the Center are:

* To use research and technology to enhance audience engagement and economic sustainability

* To use education and training to raise professional journalism standards

* To strengthen civic engagement and cross-cultural understanding in New York City and, by extension, around the world, by building the capacity of this media sector