Twenty-five years. It seems impossible, for it was only yesterday that my mentor, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams, told me about her concept for a new newspaper. Sure there were other black-owned newspapers in New York City, but what Dr. Williams envisioned was a funnier, funkier, more daring, more honest multicultural media outlet. She was offering me the prime editor slot–how could I resist? And true to her word, Dr. Williams basically gave me free rein. We hired new writers and photographers who were itching for a chance to showcase their talent. Many of them now work at major media outlets–and to think we gave them their first ever published clip.
Dr. Williams was refreshingly open to bold covers–like nearly naked reggae diva Patra–and even bolder commentaries that covered race, politics, sexism, NYC culture, and more. Hell, we even had a column called “Nigga Please” calling out folks for bad behavior. In fact, we were an “un-paper.” We were more like an over-sized magazine printed on newsprint.
The paper spun off into a short-lived cable TV show called “Trend On TV.” And in the tradition of the paper, we had on edgy guests, including Darius James, author of Negrophobia; artist Danny Simmons; Andrew Hacker, author of Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal. Again, Dr. Williams gave me a chance to do something new–co-host and co-produce. The experience was invaluable.
Having first met Dr. Williams at the New York Voice, I knew of her love of journalism, the African-American community and diversity. The Voice was a longstanding black newspaper. I was a college intern and Dr. Williams my boss. She showed me the ropes of hard news reporting as well as the importance of networking and making connections–these are a journalist’s lifelines.
So when she gave me the shot to lead the New York Trend, I tried to pay it forward and give eager newcomers their turn.
Sure we had late, late nights putting together issues. Pushes to get much-needed advertising. But despite the struggles of launching a new publication, the takeaway was priceless: if you have a vision, you can make it come true–and help others in the process. Thanks, Teresa.