Meet The Man Considered The ‘Black Associated Press’ For North Carolina

Mar 4, 2019

Cash Michaels is known for sharing the African-American perspective on news stories around North Carolina. He has been a newspaper journalist since the 1980s and writes for six African-American papers around the state. 

Michaels was born and raised in Brooklyn, and came to North Carolina for his first full-time gig: a DJ for a radio station in Durham. He only meant to stay away from New York for a few years, but the beauty of North Carolina and warmth of the community he built in the state persuaded him to stay. Host Frank Stasio talks to Michaels about his transition to the South, his more than 30 years reporting in North Carolina, and his diverse career spanning radio, television, film and newspapers. 

Here are the newspapers that Michaels writes for today:

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Michaels on the emphasis his mother put on education:

During the 60s … Education was the thing that was a banner in the African-American community across this country. The feeling was the way for us to beat racism was to get educated, to put something in this head, develop skills and then move forward. And so that's what my mother wanted me to do. She wanted me to learn. She taught me how to read [and] how to write. She taught me the importance of all of that.

On why he decided to stay in North Carolina:

I came here for the express purpose of just putting in three years at a commercial station and then going back to New York and then working at one of the big radio stations ... And instead [I] fell in love with North Carolina. [I] fell in love with the people and decided: No, I'm going to make North Carolina my home. And that's how I got here.

On if social media is replacing the black press and news media:

What we in the news business have to do — and I'm not just speaking for the black press — is make it clear to our readers or our audience that with professional news media, we have standards. We have gatekeepers: folks who pay attention to what is news [and] what isn't news. We have a mission. We have an agenda, but the agenda isn't one that's political per se ... But rather to make sure that you're getting solid information that you can use. That's not the case on social media where anybody and everybody can empower themselves to go online and say anything they want.

On looking forward to progress:

The one thing that this country refuses to do — let alone the state of North Carolina — is to have an honest discussion about race. That is something that we have never done. We are afraid to do it because we don't like the answers. We know what the answers are, but no one wants to be responsible for bringing them to the fore. Because then once you do that, that means then that people are going to be held accountable, and there's going to be ownership of that history and nobody wants that.