Wednesday, March 14, 2012

David Brown: "There is a Right, Wrong and a Whole Lot of Shades of Grey."

AN ENRAGED GUNMAN mistook David Brown as the person who stabbed his friend. The gunman found David, then just a teenager from West Philly, and pointed a gun at him. When he tried to shoot, the gun jammed. And David ran.

Then he wrote about the experience, and that got him interested in journalism.

He began writing for the school newspaper at Central High, and continued while attending Duquesne University. One day, while playing football, a medical-transport helicopter crashed on the field. He was an eyewitness to the events as they unfolded, so he wrote about them. The story ran in the school newspaper and was picked up by the Associated Press. While a sophomore in college, he had a story running in newspapers around the country.

"Journalism is an awesome responsibility," he said in class yesterday. "You have to get beyond the rhetoric. What are the facts?"

He is currently an executive with United Healthcare but he is also chairman of the board at WURD 900 AM, a conduit to the area's African-American community, and he writes columns for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously ran his own advertising firm. He has worked with young people for many years, introducing them to advertising and broadcasting.

At the radio station, David said that they try to present as many viewpoints as possible so that listeners can make informed choices.

"There is a right, wrong and a whole lot of shades of grey," he said.

Unlike other radio programs and stations, WURD strives find the proper balance rather than stir public reaction. Journalists, he said, are supposed to regulate the flow of public discussion - not telling people what to think but what to think about.

As a columnist, however, he tries to sway readers one way or the other.

"I never know how I'm affecting people until they act," he said. "Journalists can put fuel to a fire or dampen it.

He said that niche media, like WURD, is and will continue to be very important.

"Niche is being redefined everyday," he said. "It changes as we change the way we communicate."

The most important thing for niche media journalists is to retain authenticity.

"Without integrity," he offered," people won't rely upon it."

What stood out for you?


Sakinah Muhammad said...

I thought that the way he became a journalist was extremely interesting. His near death experience and being the only eye- witness to a helicopter accident led him to becoming a successful journalist. Those two stories stood out the most to me because it goes to show that almost anyone can become a journalist with a little bit of experience and talent. I don’t know whether those are good or bad ways to look at the job as a possible way of life in the future but nonetheless they are intriguing facts that were introduced by Mr. David Brown.

Darragh Friedman said...

Hey, lookie there...I'm in the pic!!! Or at least my hair is....

I really liked David's lecture. His energy, his interest, his ambition and his willingness to share his story with our class. I was impressed that he tried to stay unbiased when discussing the news, although, like all people, a few choice moments of expression came out through the facade of fairness. I think I found David to probably be the most interesting thus far.

Justin Wagner said...

Some may call it fate where others may call it the cosmos of the universe, but since I've been very young my mother has always told me that everything happens for a reason. You are who you are and the universe has a plan for you. I believe Mr. Brown was touched by the hands of fate, some unknown force which caused that piece to jam. The moment he realized his life was spared he ran as fast as he could, not daring to look back. Not knowing what to do next and with no body to talk to he turned all his focus and emotions into his writing. This was his rebirth, his second chance. The wake up call to finish chilling on the city corners with the homies and make a difference in this world. To me that gun jamming freed him, he discovered a new skill through this near fatal moment and it gave him a new life. Amazing story to hear from this man who realized his true potential.
He presented his character straight up to the class, showing how down to earth and real he is. He definitely is a progressive thinker of our time whose main interest is the people. The fact that he addressed to us a new law trying to change the game of voting, which none had even heard before, impressed me. He urged us to question why this was being done. Why set more restrictions to get the common people to vote. This government was established to be a people's republic, and now they're trying to cut the people out. It makes me wonder who gets benefitted by this bill being passed, and why they're pushing for it. What's their gain when it's the people's loss?