Paulette Brown-Hinds is the second-generation publisher of Black Voice News and founder of Voice Media Ventures, a strategic media and content creation firm. She also teaches at UC Riverside. Before participating in the Zócalo/Center for Social Innovation event, “Can Local Media Restore Trust and Destroy Disinformation?,” she talked about her love for the Inland Empire, community media, and potatoes in the Zócalo green room.
If you could time travel to any year or time period in history, what would you choose and why?
The 1920s, and the Harlem Renaissance in America. Traveling abroad as an artist during that time would have been pretty cool.
What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding outsiders have about the Inland Empire?
That it’s just warehouses and empty fields. It’s such a beautiful place. I was born and raised here. I grew up in the foothills in San Bernardino, and now I’m in Riverside County surrounded by mountains and have a wonderful view. It’s a beautiful landscape to me, and I think people don’t see that from the outside.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I have many! Massage is one. I used to hate them, and I had a client who gets one every week, who gave me one as a gift for my birthday when I turned 40: my first serious massage. That’s something that I invest in for my own well-being, and I hate that I haven’t been able to do that for almost a year now.
What does it take to get you out on a dance floor?
I love to dance. I grew up in a family where we would turn on music and dance in the living room. It brings me joy.
What do you consider yourself a cheerleader or evangelist for?
One is community media, local news. I can’t say no to any of the organizations that have asked me to serve on their boards, so I’m on the boards of California News Publishers—I served as president—Cal Press Foundation, Cal Matters, and the American Press Institute. I believe in the work we do in community media. I grew up in this space and think providing information to the public is a public good, and I’m a huge evangelist for it.
What is your comfort food?
I just ate it: Potatoes! I had made some roasted potatoes two nights ago, and I decided to fry them with onions for lunch today. I could eat them baked, boiled, fried, roasted. In soup. Anything.
What has been the biggest change in media for the better since you started your career?
The technology. Right now, we’re testing and learning more about digital mapping and data visualization. To be able to have those tools to help make sense of the data and information, to help tell stories, has been exciting. When I started with the newspaper, I was in high school; [Black Voice News] was in our family when I was in middle school. So one of my first jobs was typesetter. I remember typing and cutting out the columns and waxing and pasting. I remember when we started with desktop publishing. It’s just been remarkable.
What was the last thing that inspired you?
I try to find things every day. Probably yesterday was the inauguration—the ceremony, the reflections from the speakers. The entire ceremony was inspiring. Even the flags, and the idea that if we can’t have the people here, what do we do with the space? To have that sea of flags; that creativity inspires me.
If you didn’t work as a publisher, what would you do?
I spent 12 years working toward being an academic and full-time professor. That’s for sure what I would be doing. Now I just do it once a year.