FREE AT LAST
Three weeks ago I was in New York City basking in the glory of journalism and listening to a riveting seminar session on career options. I was there for a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism reunion that had brought together some 300 of the nation’s best trained young, seasoned and savvy journalists back to the premier journalism school in the world to discuss the state of our profession.
Two weeks ago, back home in Atlanta, I became embroiled in a racially charged controversy involving the ongoing Fulton County Solicitor’s race where my integrity and ethics were unfairly defamed because I questioned whether prosecutor Clint Rucker and his wife were both campaigning while still being paid by taxpayers. They cried foul, pulled some strings and I was subsequently dismissed by the popular online business publication I had been writing a column for since October.
That touched off a firestorm of protest by a bevy of my friends and supporters who believe Black news voices – such as mine - are being silenced or maliciously discredited here in Atlanta and in urban areas across the country. They have come together to form a group called Black Media Matters
“We will no longer step back nor sit back and allow for Black media to be excluded from the consequential conversations in Atlanta,” says neighborhood and environmental activist Al Bartell. “When the dominate media culture of journalists communicate their political opinion and insight it is considered investigative journalism. But we have seen recently that whenever someone from the Black media communicates their opinion or insightful information it is considered being biased. As media voices for the Black community if you speak truth to power, they shut down your voice. The question we are asking is who really fired Maynard to shut down his voice.”
I have been an accomplished newsman all my adult life beginning at age 19 in Norfolk, Va. for WVEC-TV, then to Miami’s WPLG-TV before arriving here in Atlanta in 1978 to write and report for WXIA-TV. In fact, the day I arrived for my interview the late civil rights activists Rev. Hosea Williams and Rev. Joe Boone were protesting outside the 11-Alive News offices demanding more on-air Black news reporters. I have been covering Atlanta politics, crime, community issues and cultural affairs ever since in television and print. I have worked for BET News covering the southeast; I was the first editor of the Atlanta Tribune; and I have written and reported for the Atlanta Voice and its courageous publisher Janis Ware. Additionally, I have been the managing editor of The SCLC National Magazine for the past five years and the co-founder/moderator/editor of NEWSMAKERS Live/Journal for the last decade working alongside Jim and Eleanorjan Welcome. For the past three years I have been the senior writer and editorial consultant for a table top book entitled 100 Years of Atlanta’s Black Heritage. The book, expertly published by C. Sunny Martin, will debut at a June 9th V.I.P. release party at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. Go to AtlantaBlackHeritage.com for further information.
So suffice it to say, I am a seasoned and savvy storyteller on a variety of subjects and issues. Journalism is and has been my life’s calling. I am pretty darn good at what I do. I have won 8 EMMY awards, and been nominated for a dozen others. I have also been blessed with several notable print journalism awards and accolades.
“The issue is we don’t control our own media; we don’t control our own stories,” opines Okeeba Jubalo, the owner of Young Black Entrepreneur Magazine [YBE] and television. “Even though what happened to Mr. Eaton is not fair and not just, I am proud to say we are creating a platform for Mr. Eaton. YBE Magazine will feature his writing and YBE Television will feature his stories and interviews – unfiltered and uncut. He has earned his right to say exactly what he needs to say, how he needs to say it, when he needs to say it and to whomever he wants to say it to. Honestly it has changed for the better because now the older lion has a few younger lions that are down to make the kill on his behalf. We are going to work it out for this older lion.”
Thus the debut of The Maynard Report today. I feel emancipated—free at last ---because now I can write and report for myself. And, I invite other notable journalists, writers and photographers to join me such as Keith Whitney, Donna Lowery, Hal Lamar, Michael Harvey, Shelley Wynter, J’Lyn Furby, Sheila Pree Bright, Carrie L. Williams and Clyde Bradley to name a few other voices that should be heard.
Finally, The Maynard Report is not necessarily about me, but rather an ode and salute to America’s greatest Black mayor ever, the late Mayor Maynard Jackson, who I had the privilege of knowing and covering as a journalist. Now that’s a man who eloquently and courageously spoke truth to power. And, that is what I pledge to do in The Maynard Report every week.