This week was my first week going out in the field for Harlem News Group and it was a very interesting experience. My focus area for this week was Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Basically, my responsibility was to go to every business on both sides of the boulevard from 154th Street to 110th Street that could be a potential advertiser and sell advertising to them. I’ve never done advertising before, so it was a little bit challenging at first to determine whether or not a business was a potential advertiser. The publisher (my supervisor) gave me some suggestions, but oftentimes, it is very much based on your gut, your intuition. You really have to make a judgment call as far as determining whether or not a given business would want to place an ad in your newspaper. You really just have to go with your gut; it’s a trial and error process. And there are a number of factors that you have to consider. Is it a new business in the area? If so, they may be interested in advertising. Does the organization or company do print advertising? Do they have the funds for advertising? Restaurants tend to be a good place to go.
What I also took away from the experience is that there are so many more businesses in Harlem than I realized. I was surprised to discover that there is so much more that I have to learn about Harlem. The publisher was explaining to me how most people, even people who live in Harlem, aren’t really aware of what’s in the neighborhood because people generally don’t think to venture out and explore. And it’s kind of true. I guess most people know about the Apollo Theater and the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, for example, but there are all of these restaurants, bakeries and shops there, too. There’s Harlem Tavern, Patisserie des Ambassades, Levain Bakery, Jacob Restaurant, Manna’s Restaurant, J. Restaurant, the Kumon Center, the Capoeira Angola Center of Mestre Joao Grande, etc.
One thing that I’ve always liked about Harlem is the culture. Whenever I go there, the minute I get off the train, I always see many Africans. It’s nice to see my own people. So I was excited to stumble upon some restaurants and bakeries on Frederick Douglass Boulevard owned by Guineans and other West Africans since I am half-Guinean. I even got to speak French with some of them. It was nice to have that extra connection to them. And this is just Frederick Douglass Boulevard. There’s also Lenox Avenue, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, St. Nicholas Avenue, the list goes on. The publisher told me that she hopes I’ll know Harlem like the back of the hand by the time I’m done with this project. I’ve already got a sort of photographic memory of many of the places I visited this week. I think it might be an interesting challenge to try to do what I did this week in every part of New York City. Maybe I could even document it here in this blog!