Hermene Hartman is a pioneer and an unmistakable voice in the world of media. She has brought us news stories through the African-American lens for over three decades as the founder and publisher of N’DIGO Magapaper, which went digital in 2017.
Last year, Hermene Hartman launched the television show and radio podcast N’DIGO Studio to continue to bring relevant news to a wide-reaching platform. During an interview, she stated that she is grateful for funding for N’DIGO Studio provided by Chicago Community Trust, who, in turn, advertises in front of a coveted Black middle-class audience. She aims to bring her newsy head and experience in interviewing to the table as she presents the Black perspective, insight, and intelligence that is missing in the television discussions. Hermene Hartman has seen enough of the exploitation, lack of emotion, and scoreboard reporting that occurs as the news media fails to humanize individuals and delve into their backstories. She stated, “I think we need a new talk show. We don’t need comedy, slave stories, or drama. We need to be talking about some issues.”
“N’DIGO STUDIO” is both a TV show and a podcast featuring authors, politicos, and personalities discussing hot topics through a Chicago-centric lens. The TV show is in its second season, premiered Oct. 3 on local
“I am excited about taking N’DIGO to television, recognizing the changing media landscape,” Hartman said. “While we see change, the African-American message still is required from an authentic view. To maintain realness and relevancy in covering our beat, we’ve established new platforms that carry us forward with new mediums. I am hopeful that ‘N’DIGO STUDIO’ will be as impactful as was N’DIGO in print.”
Having garnered an Emmy nomination in its debut season, “N’DIGO STUDIO” is already achieving firm footing and promises to continue attracting the city’s Newsies, notables, and newbies as guests. Some of the second season’s episodes include segments featuring black photo archivist, Angela Ford, Obsidian Collection; fellow newspaper publisher, Dorothy R. Leavell, Chicago Crusader; community activist Ja’Mal Green, former youthful mayoral candidate; NBA players Craig Hodges (Chicago Bulls), and Dr. Lloyd Walton (Milwaukee Bucks); and an exclusive interview with Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Hermene Hartman talked about making the transition from print to digital format. “I’m a researcher, forward thinker, and trend analyst,” she stated. “I saw a decline in print because advertisers were shifting their dollars, and the news was changing as to how people received it. I needed to do something else if I was going to remain effective in media communications.” The advantages of making the switch include engaging a whole new audience, becoming a global news source, and seeing a significant reduction in operating costs. On the other hand, a downside is that people who advertise in print may not do so digitally.
Hermene Hartman feels that another issue with the digital age is that social media has harmed writing by causing it to become fast, brief, and harsh. Also, cognition is changing. People are not challenging themselves to put any thought into writing or effort into learning skills such as photography. Even though things have changed, and there has been a shift toward social media for news, writers should always uphold quality. Also, fact-checking is a must. Not telling the truth is a violation of journalistic principle.
“There are no rules anymore,” Hartman said. “Everyone is a photographer, videographer, and writer. These days because of Facebook, journalism as we have known it is at a crossroad. Newsrooms have left their sanctuary and are following social media trends. Thus, we have happy talk, animal stories, and what’s trending. We need to get back to features, interviews, and investigation. Facebook beats the press to the scene and lets the media know what, when, and where. We need balance in the news and inclusion at all levels.”
Hermene Hartman stated that being successful in managing multiple media outlets requires enjoying what you do, being committed, and building teams. “You have to find people who have the passion, interest, love, commitment, and expertise to do what they do. Success is not you, the person; it’s you, the team.” It also involves knowing how to build, stabilize, and grow an audience. Audience response is unpredictable, so it is necessary to experiment and determine what works best.
For those who are interested in a career in media, Hermene Hartman offered this advice:
- Learn how to write. Writing is the core and base of media.
- Learn a craft, whether it is videography, photography, or another area.
- Find a mentor who will teach you the craft riches and challenge you to step outside your comfort zone.
- Get experience by working with someone successful at what you want to do.
- Put yourself in environments where you can use your skills.
- Have considerable journalistic skills under your belt.
At one point in time, writing, filming, and editing were the jobs of multiple people. Now, journalism schools are training students to do it all, but being a one-person show has its ups and downs. Hermene Hartman would like to teach a lesson on how to bridge tradition with modern journalism. She feels that one cannot exist without the other. “You have to be flexible and innovative, and you cannot be afraid,” she stated. Sometimes, you must be willing to let go of your ideas and accept others if they work better.
Many are facing struggles and trying to figure out how to keep going during these difficult times. Hermene Hartman’s answer to this is to define the challenge, put it in front of you, figure out what formula works, solve the problem, and keep moving. She stated, “We are all living in unprecedented moments and should take a look at how others are coping.”
Being able to communicate with people has been one of Hermene Hartman’s most significant rewards. “It’s wonderful to write an article that connects with, changes, or informs somebody,” she stated. As a small business, she has provided hundreds of college scholarships through her foundation and enjoys hearing the success stories of scholarship recipients.
For the past two years, plans have been in the works to archive the N’DIGO papers. The papers, which will be known as the N’DIGO Collection, will be available online soon and go to Carter G. Woodson Library and Chicago Historical Society. “You will be able to research to find Chicago in the 30-year life span of N’DIGO and see what Black Chicago looks like,” stated Hermene Hartman.” The writing is introspection, perspective, interpretation, and analysis, and we cannot allow our point of view to be lost.”
The “N’DIGO STUDIO” podcast can be found on Apple iTunes, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, IHeartMedia, Pocket Casts, TuneIn and Ndigo.com