I have always enjoyed creative writing and because of an interest in print shop, I put together newletters about neighborhood stuff but my interest in journalism was triggered by an experience in junior high school. Bill Cosby came to Horace Mann Jr. High School in Los Angeles and I had the opportunity to interview him for the school newspaper. While in high school, I wrote briefly for my high school newspaper.
While attending college, I decided to start a magazine for Black youths. I organized correspondents at a number of historically black colleges and also tried to establish a distribution network. The first and only issue featured Issac Hayes. Poorly financed, and unable to crack the distribution insiders club, the publication didn't last but I got the bug and the taste of entertainment journalism.
I secured a couple of freelance writing jobs and eventually encountered Bill Chappelle, who had just started Soul & Jazz Magazine. I asked about writing and he gave me an assignment to review a couple of albums. I heard that Herbie Hancock was going to be performing in concert soon. I approached his record company and asked if I could interview him. They set it up and my first feature article resulted in Soul & Jazz. The encounter with Herbie also led to my exposure to Nichiren Buddhism which opened up another world of adventure.
A few years later, one of my journalism teachers turned me on to an internship opportunity at the Los Angeles Times which eventually landed me a position as a staff writer with byline. I wrote for the publication for awhile and over the next few years wrote freelance articles on a variety of subjects for a number of publications, including Black Sounds Magazine, New Media,
While working as a chemist at Spectrum Chemical, I found out about a music industry trade publication called the Rhythm & Blues Report and I applied for a position as a part-time copy editor at night. A few months later I was offered a full-time position so I quit the chemical company and joined the R&B Report fulltime. My roles at the publication grew from copy editor to Jazz Editor to Managing Editor to Editor-in-Chief.
My First Entertainment Feature
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|Selected Editorials||Selected Articles|
Gross National Happiness
Value Change for Global Survival
An African World View
|Los Angeles Times||
Music Makers Magazine
|Black Sounds Magazine|
Image Magazine -- Empowering the Man of Color was a fulfilling experience because it allowed me the opportunity to help shape a national dialogue about the image of the Black man in American society especially as portrayed in news and entertainment. It was the Black man's version of Essence with more edge and came at a great time, though short lived. It was fresh, hot, looked great and got a lot of attention -- good and bad.
In 1993, the Library of Congress named Image Magazine as one of the 10 Best Magazines in America. On the other side of the coin, Southern Partisan magazine called Image a heavily-financed, racist publication and the FBI warned us that we showed up on a hit list of a white supremacist group they were monitoring. So I guess somebody was reading it :)
I must admit we were a bit provocative, the first issue featured an article titled "Nigger Please," and examined the use of the so-called "N" word (and that was 1993). The cover of another issue portrayed a Black man crucified against an American flag with a headline that read "Are White People Inherently Evil? - Dangerous Liaisons." That was in response to Shockley's outrageous statement resurfacing at the time about the intellectual inferiority of Black people. Rather than addressing his statement directly, we asked the aforementioned question and published a scholarly article analyzing the interaction of Europeans with other cultures and the consistent destructive nature of those encounters. We thought it a fair question to ask. The article addressing the topic was written by renowned researcher Runoko Rashidi. He used as case studies the European oppression of India, Australia and Tasmania, the later resulting in the total extinction of a people. Not even discussing the tragic encounter with the ingideneous American population, natives in the Caribbean, Central and South America and almost everyone they encountered. The article ends responding to the question with "Are they inherently evil? I don't think so but I can see why someone would ask."
At Image we took bold stands and challenged assaults on the image of African Americans. My editorials called for expanding our world view, changing our values in light of global challenges and adopting a new measure of progress. We immediately came under attack by organizations like the Jewish Defense League, the Anti-Defamation League and groups like the KKK.
The King of Buganda
Who would have thought that 20 years after this interview I would find myself in The Kingdom of Buganda without remembering this encounter. The Minister of Finance of Uganda owned a couple of radio stations and I was mentoring her and her key people. I finished early during one trip and decided to go siteseeing. She suggested I visit the old Buganda Parliament building which is now a museum. While taking photos of paintings of the old kings from as far back as the 1600s, I ran across the same photo we used in Image. "Hey, I know him." He was in exile in the United States when we did this interview and was just getting ready to return to take the throne. Now 20 years later I find myself consulting to help them build a television station. Below the article are pics from the Kabaka's 60th birthday celebration I attended last year (2015).
|Berlin, Germany -- Meredith Beal was one of 10 U.S. News Directors and Gatekeepers participating in a special Berlin program selected for the 2009 RIAS Berlin Fellowship. This program in Germany for broadcast media gatekeepers, designed specifically for radio and television news directors, assistant news directors, vice presidents for news, and senior editors took place one week after the 2009 general election in Germany and provided the participants with first impressions of the future shape of German politics. It brought our American journalists to German newsrooms and German political offices to hear first hand how the media covers stories and issues in Germany.
They were able to compare and discuss broadcast structures and news coverage models, public and private radio and television entities in Germany, along with viewing trends, content and form, and the impact of technology and new media on future developments in news coverage and news gathering.