NYU Black Renaissance Noire Winter 2014 - Page 144

142 The inaugural episode of Black Journal was met with considerable media attention, including praise from the New York Times’ veteran television critic, Jack Gould. He hailed it as “one of the most exciting new television shows of the season,” and praised its mission to “bridge the gap between white and black communities.” Gould’s article chided the commercial networks “for not having thought of it first.” During the early years of Black Journal, Gould — known for his unsparing critiques of Sen. Joe McCarthy, evangelist Oral Roberts, and the television quiz show scandals — was a consistent advocate for the program. When Black Journal appeared the next month, the New York Times’ critic continued to be an enthusiastic supporter and he argued that whites should watch the program precisely because it addressed a primarily black audience. Gould’s article hinted at an unstable future for the program, however, indicating that it was scheduled to end in September and would need to find more permanent funding. Highlighting the ephemeral nature of television programming on race relations, he needled net officials not to view Black Journal as a temporary solution to urban unrest: “Financial support for the program might even convince some of the skeptics that race is not just a summer phenomenon.” Other journalists echoed Gould’s enthusiasm. One review, titled “Regular Television Fare Put to Shame by Negro Production” highlighted the revolutionary nature of the program — “It is actually created by Negroes, from the first ideas all the way through production.” The writer offered a biting critique of the state of commercial and public television: Black Journal “states unequivocally not only that black is beautiful, but black is brainy, while the rest of us are what you see on Love of Life, on Bonanza, on all the sadism and sentimentality shows.” A reporter from Newsday noted the novelty of a television program designed to provide “the majority an idea of what’s going on behind the black curtain…” Kudos poured in from media outlets across the country, from Seattle and San Francisco to a number of Southern markets including Memphis and Houston. Underscoring many of the reviews was a critique of the bland uniformity of television fare. Despite the strong start, the backbone of Black Journal began to facture in its third month. Bourne and other staff members struggled to define their audience and their place amid a predominantly white management. White-produced segments outnumbered those created by Blacks and “Little by little, questions of assignments and editorial points of view became points of dispute among the staff,” he wrote. Another staff member, filmmaker Charles Hobson, remembered that “the structure of the program made a number of people uncomfortable because basically all of the producers where white and the blacks on staff were the assistants to the white producers…” A fight ensued when a white producer’s segment stated that there was widespread black support for Israel and the seizure of Arab land. Eleven of Black Journal’s 12 black staff resigned and held a press conference to announce their frustration over the lack of editorial control and to call for th