He’s a self-proclaimed “country boy” with roots in Philly, and he’s been taking what he’s been learning from this city to build himself a legacy. He is David Chaney Jr., and he is the founder and editor-in-chief of the independent Black-owned media company, Noire Life Media. Chaney adopted “Media” in 2021 because of their expansion from being a primarily print publication to the use of audio and video, which includes the podcast Noire Life Presents. Noire Life exists to share diverse perspectives and narratives across the Black diaspora.
He learned journalism and broadcasting at East Carolina University and came to Philadelphia about 9 years ago after having trouble finding a job. He’s been in Germantown for about three years now. He fell in love with the city after using a SEPTA transpass his grandparents bought him to get around. The quick accessibility to the restaurants, landmarks, and social & recreational activities fed his adoration of the city. He says it was his friends showing him their respective home bases and neighborhoods that exposed him to the expansive cultures of the city.
“I fell in love with the city that way,” Chaney says. “You know, I was going to concerts, I was going to play, and friends would show me their parts of where they grew up at? And I was like, wow, because everything looked different. Like you drive a short drive, and you’re in a different neighborhood. And it was a different demographic and a different culture.”
David landed in Philly when his dad, a Philly native, called him to offer him some options here. While David did have his own small tutoring business, he lived with his mother and said he was feeling the pressure of being a new graduate without a job in his field.
“It was a struggle,” Chaney says, reflecting on his job hunt. “And I can admit it now, but I think — no, I know — it was a form of depression because it was like damn, I can’t get a job? Like, I done went to school, I done put the work in, and I did all this community service.”
When Chaney got here, he started volunteering at a shelter but was soon offered a position in human services. He said that job would set a work foundation for him for the decade to follow. He says one of the things he started early on in that job was a small free library for the residents to exchange books. And later, he began facilitating college tours for the teenagers at the shelter to gauge their interest in secondary education and think about their futures. Chaney is now working as a college and career readiness counselor when he isn’t running his own media company.
Chaney started Noire Life in August 2020 after reflecting on the events surrounding the 2020 Uprisings and after a friend of his asked him, “when are you going to start your business?” The question initially startled Chaney, but he took her question into heavy consideration after her explanation. He recalls her sentiments saying, “Everybody wants to be great, but they don’t have what it takes. They don’t have the grassroots level; they haven’t been in the trenches.” She said, “you, my boy, been in the trenches. Like, you have meat on your bone.” And she says, “so what I need for you to do is really tap in and figure out what you want to do.”
He says he took a short sabbatical to think about his, and eventually, that’s where he got the idea to start a personal blog initially. But, what was supposed to be personal turned into a publication hosting a variety of voices from across the Black diaspora. He says Noire Life caught the attention of Black women and femmes precisely because of the name. Noire is the French meaning for “Black” in its feminine form, while Noir is masculine. But, their perspective was still only one piece of a larger story, so he reached out to other folks as well.
“I brought in other people,” the editor-in-chief says. “I didn’t just want it to be from a female perspective. I also wanted a male perspective and a non-binary perspective. I wanted to create a space for everybody.
As aforementioned, the publication seeks to cover a variety of stories and topics across the Black diaspora, which is the vast lineage and descendants of the West Africans spread throughout the world due to slavery. The Black diaspora includes, but may not be limited to, African Americans, Black Canadians, Afro-Carribeans, and Afro-Latinx people. And as part of those, some subcultures and identities help shape the diasporic cultures like queerness, womanhood, people with disabilities, and more. Some of the stories on the website include topics like cancel culture, film reviews and pop-culture critiques, LGBTQIA+, healthcare and education disparities, and more.
Chaney is also working on his third season of the Noire Life Presents podcast. He says as the seasons grow, he wants the content and storytelling to evolve with it, so he’s strategically planning the content and its release. The first season focused on highlighting some of his friends who owned businesses and organizations, while the second season diverged its focus to cultural issues. The first two seasons are available on the Noire Life website and can be streamed via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other streaming platforms.
Noire Life’s website also contains YouTube videos that primarily feature interviews conducted by Chaney. You can also listen to a 24-hour radio station featuring song selections from the founder and NL contributors on the website.
When asked what were some of the biggest challenges he’s faced as an independent owner of a publication, Chaney responded, “What’s that Destiny’s Child song? Bills Bills Bills,” followed by a chuckle. But, like most things, there are ups and downs. And to Noire Life’s “ups,” he attributes the “beautiful team” that he works with and other partners.
He shouts out a handful of people who he says have helped “pave the way” for the online publication saying, “it’s so many people who have really helped put us out there. So thank you to all of y’all. I love y’all because there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’.”
Chaney says he hopes to expand the company even further within the next five years saying he wants to be a household name. “I grew up on Oprah, Ebony Mag, Essence, and BET,” he says. “It was those types of media outlets that were Black-operated. They had Black content, they talked about the community, and they talked about people that looked like me.” He cites his influences as a reason for wanting to leave a lasting legacy. And as an addition to that legacy, he wants to host a mentoring program that will show youth how things are done behind the scenes in relation to media content and development.
You can read stories and keep up with content from Noire Life at noirelife.org. You can also follow Noire Life on Facebook at Noire Life Media and Instagram at @noirelifemedia. Today (May 26, 2022), at 5 PM, you can hear Chaney on the Germantown Info Hub Hour on G-Town Radio at 92.9 FM or bit.ly/ListenGtown.