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Amplifying black voices: Small business owner aims to redefine local journalism

Jun 14, 2023 · 5 minutes to read

Iowa Black Voices

In the highly divisive and politicized US media landscape, the perspectives of society’s most marginalized groups can often get lost in the noise.

This is where award-winning writer and BizInsure customer, Dana James, seeks to cut through and share narratives that affect her local community in Iowa. This is her story.

Already with a successful online site and a Facebook page that boasts over 20,000 followers, James’s publication, Black Iowa News, is set to become a fully-fledged newspaper.

Ahead of its June 16 launch, James says her mission is to highlight black perspectives across a new medium.

“The Black Iowa Newspaper is ready to uplift, showcase, and connect us like the Black Press has always done,” says James.

Starting a small business in a ‘litigious society’

Born and raised in Des Moines and a reporter at the local news, Dana James was inspired to create her publication in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I saw some gaps in reporting and wanted to make sure that my community was receiving the most accurate and up-to-date information on what the pandemic was doing and how it was affecting communities. And from there, it’s just grown,” she says.

But given the topics covered, James knew she had to do her due diligence and research before launching her business.

“We live in a very litigious society and with the type of work I am doing, it’s essential to make sure the stories we write are accurate and fair,” she says.

“My integrity and accuracy are super important to me. I’m really confident that the information has been vetted, and that it’s going to be a benefit to the community that reads it.”

Even so, James understood the risk of being sued by someone and sought out to get financially protected through business insurance.

“BizInsure came to me recommended and then when I began working with the company it was super easy,” she says.

“My policy includes Professional Liability and Errors and Omission and so that’s what I need as a journalist to be sure that I’m covered. It’s affordable for a small business owner like myself, and it’s just a great fit for my business to have this insurance, so I don’t have to worry about anything.”

The importance of publications like Black Iowa News

Gone are the days when families from different generations and political affiliations gathered around the television to listen to Walter Cronkite’s evening broadcast. Instead, news consumption has become more fragmented, catering to specific demographics.

However, this fragmentation has also brought about some positive changes. Publications are targeting different audiences and readers now have access to a diverse range of perspectives on the same story. This inclusivity allows for a more nuanced understanding of complex issues and enables readers to make better-informed decisions.

“Black Iowa News isn’t just for black people. Lots of people are interested in it. Lots of people support it. But it is a platform for us to go deep on the things that we care about,” she says.

“Some of our stories are, quite frankly, lost. They’re undervalued. They’re treated like a trend.”

It is worth noting that while journalists, writers, publishers and other content creators work to inform with integrity and accuracy, small businesses like Black Iowa News are exposed to risks not limited to errors, mistakes or omissions in their work or even allegations of defamation which may include slander and libel.

These might be risks journalists are aware of but it’s important for small businesses like Black Iowa News to consider getting coverage to protect their business if they were to face a claim.

Advice for small businesses

As she builds her small business into her own little empire, James hopes that more people will follow in her footsteps and launch their small business on what they are passionate about.

But she notes there are certain things to being a business owner that you just have to do.

“You have to keep records. You have to be insured. You have to monitor that economic climate. You have to offer something of value to people. And I think those are some of the main key pieces to being a small business owner.”

As with any insurance, coverage will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this guide is general only and should not be relied upon as advice. The number of quotes provided varies between products, occupations and other underwriting factors determined by the insurers.
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