You have to be certain kind of crazy to launch a print magazine in today’s climate. Yet the magazines that are providing stories and content that readers can’t find anywhere else and, most importantly, continue to serve the needs of an active community are the ones that are still in good health.
Nu People, a lifestyle magazine for black people, is a fresh publication that has the potential to become an essential companion for its target audience – one that is desperately underserved in Britain today.
Plucked from the mind of founder and senior editor PY Adjei, Nu People presents stories of “aspirational and inspirational” African and Caribbean people in business and the arts. It acts as a digest for literature and music. It covers fashion, beauty and relationships. But, most impressive of all, the magazine fronts comment and features on issues that are on the lips of young black Britons, but are rarely, if ever, found in the pages of the scant selection of black media available on newsstands.
For instance, the cover feature in Nu People’s premier issue was about natural hair, in which five black women discussed their decision to stop using hair straightening products. A story for a select group, no doubt. But, considering that I’ve come across no less than three black women who’ve started their own natural hair product range in last 12 months, as well as listened to friends who’ve discovered a new-found obsession for hair, such a feature is perfectly suited to Nu People’s target audience.
Issue two included a piece about black fathers and their daughters. So frequent are the ‘absent father’ and ‘ghetto’ narratives that we’re all used to seeing in the media that I was astonished to see this feature on the cover of a magazine. And it didn’t end there, with an article confronting whether ethnic minorities are considered British or only when it suits, naming Olympic heroine Christine Ohuruogu as one such case.
A magazine bold enough to champion this kind of material is cause for celebration. The niche magazines that exist for black Britons today – Ebony, Arise, Pride and Flavour – satisfy thousands of readers, yet Nu People reminds me that there are countless others that don’t engage with any publication, in print or online, that’s by black people for black people.
Some would argue that a diaspora that reportedly earns less than white Britons is hardly an attractive market for risk-adverse media businesses. And they’d be right. But I’m not an economist or a sociologist.
All I know is that, contrary to the label of black people underachieving, today there are generation of young, ambitious black Britons with education and talent behind them. They know what they like, and their spending power is already being felt by the small businesses that have set up shop to serve their desire for products to suit their lifestyle.
The opportunity to serve black Britons with stories and advertising aimed at them is huge. But how you crack connecting with black Britons, many of whom have different opinions about where they call home, their family values and so on, is a puzzle that is yet to be solved by any media business.
Can one publication appeal to 1Xtra-listening, black teens and 20-somethings that might occasionally browse The Root, but don’t fancy reading their mum’s copy of The Voice? And, at same time, can it appeal to the sports trainers and scientists, the activists and lawyers, career-minded black Britons who many not find it easy to connect with their roots in the way those involved with religion or community tend to?
For now, led by its imaginative founder, Nu People could become a platform for black talent and business. A place where the Mancunian souk (that’s soul and folk) sounds of Josephine Oniyama, or the views of Adrian Lester, or Naomie Harris, could be found alongside challenging, untold stories about what it means to be black (with ads nestled in between, of course, from the likes Afroconchix and Afro Hair & Skin).
That doesn’t sound like anything that exists today, which is why a travel-sized magazine of this kind aimed at black Britons is such a fantastic idea.
Do check out Nu People, which is available in print, as a digital edition for iPad and online. And new writers are welcome, so if you have something to share or that you’d like to see in it, I encourage you to get in touch with the editorial team. If it carries on in the manner it has begun – and it’s you and I who will make the difference, it would all the more pleasing to see Nu People become a touchstone for black media.
Image: PreMMedia Publishing