Autoethnography of the Cultural Competence Exhibited at an African American Weekly Newspaper Organization

Erik Bean
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 16  •  2019  •  pp. 153-164
Aim/Purpose: Little is known of the cultural competence or leadership styles of a minority owned newspaper. This autoethnography serves to benchmark one early 1990s example.

Background: I focused on a series of flashbacks to observe an African American weekly newspaper editor-in-chief for whom I reported to 25 years ago. In my reflections I sought to answer these questions: How do minorities in entrepreneurial organizations view their own identity, their cultural competence? What degree of this perception is conveyed fairly and equitably in the community they serve?

Methodology: Autoethnography using both flashbacks and article artifacts applied to the leadership of an early 1990s African American weekly newspaper.

Contribution: Since a literature gap of minority newspaper cultural competence examples is apparent, this observation can serve as a benchmark to springboard off older studies like that of Barbarin (1978) and that by examining the leadership styles and editorial authenticity as noted by The Chicago School of Media Theory (2018), these results can be used for comparison to other such minority owned publications.

Findings: By bringing people together, mixing them up, and conducting business any other way than routine helped the Afro-American Gazette, Grand Rapids, proudly display a confidence sense of cultural competence. The result was a potentiating leadership style, and this style positively changed the perception of culture, a social theory change example.

Recommendations for Practitioners: For the minority leaders of such publications, this example demonstrates effective use of potentiating leadership to positively change the perception of the quality of such minority owned newspapers.

Recommendations for Researchers: Such an autoethnography could be used by others to help document other examples of cultural competence in other minority owned newspapers.

Impact on Society: The overall impact shows that leadership at such minority owned publications can influence the community into a positive social change example.

Future Research: Research in the areas of culture competence, leadership, within minority owned newspapers as well as other minority alternative publications and websites can be observed with a focus on what works right as well as examples that might show little social change model influence. The suggestion is to conduct the research while employed if possible, instead of relying on flashbacks.
cultural competence, microaggression, racism, prejudice, African American, newspapers, leadership, journalism, autoethnography, epistemology, flashbacks, reflection
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