New UT publication brings different perspectives to 40 Acres

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Cheyenne Hoffman looks to provide an outlet for black voices on campus. She is the editor-in-chief of the Black Ink Association, which is launching an online publication this fall to raid awareness about news affecting the black community.

Photo Credit: Zen Ren | Daily Texan Staff

After two semesters and a summer of planning, a new online African-American UT publication will launch in the fall.

Cheyenne Matthews-Hoffman, editor-in-chief of the publication and a journalism sophomore, said the student organization Black Ink Association is attempting to launch a publication similar to the “The Griot,” which was an African-American print publication at UT in the ’80s and the ’90s.

Choquette Hamilton, associate director of development for the African and African Diaspora Studies Department, said during its time the Griot served as a counter-narrative to the dominant voice of students, which she said was The Daily Texan.

“The Griot came about because students, particular black students at the University, felt that their story wasn’t being told, and if it was being told, it was being told in a viewpoint that was not their own,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said the Griot addressed a few landmark issues during its time. For instance, the Griot tackled the issue of divestment of UT from companies in South Africa, which was utilizing the racial segregation policy of apartheid at the time.

Hamilton said while she was not certain why the Griot stopped publishing, she imagined it would have to do with funding, as it cost about $225 to create the Griot, which printed once a semester.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but back in the ’80s, I imagine $225 to create a newspaper was a significant cost for students,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said while The Daily Texan says it strives to act as the voice for all students, the newspaper has a hard time recruiting and retaining people of color from different perspectives.

“The way The Daily Texan obtains their employees is through walk-in type basis, rather than more of a recruitment,” Hamilton said. “Because that is the case, it’s self-selected. By the very nature of that process you’re going to get a one-sided viewpoint on many of these issues. So having these counter-narratives open up the dialogues and present things from different perspectives really helps everyone involved.”

Now, Hoffman said, the Black Ink Association’s publication, which does not yet have a name, will attempt to cover some of the issues that have not been covered since the Griot’s absence.

“I just think there are a lot of issues involving the black community at UT, and just Austin in general, that don’t really get reported about,” Hoffman said.

News editor Aladeria Allen said students can expect a diversity of news from the publication that is not just from the African-American perspective, but all student minorities.

“Students can expect just really a huge range of news, from the more controversial topics to the stuff you don’t see everyday,” Allen said.

Since the Black Ink Association’s publication will be online and not in print, Hoffman said they are planning to spread information about their publication by talking to organizations on campus.

“When we do start next semester, we’ll have a Twitter [account] and Facebook [page], and we’ll be pushing for it a lot in the organizations,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said the publication is still looking for reporters and all students are welcome.

Printed on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 as: Publication to report counter-narrative