Forty Under 40: Niketa Reed

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,441 views 

Class of 2021 Forty Under 40 Niketa Reed Executive Director Arkansas Soul Media Inc., Fayetteville

As a Black woman in media, Niketa Reed is passionate about media representation for diverse audiences. As a journalism and strategic media professor at the University of Arkansas, she specializes in diversity in media. She delivers real-world experiences to her students “to open their eyes to different perspectives to understand how important diversity, equity and inclusion is, especially in the media landscape.”

With that passion, she created Arkansas Soul in 2018, a nonprofit digital media platform geared toward Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), with work primarily by BIPOC in Arkansas. She hopes to get BIPOC students interested in media and journalism, provide opportunities for BIPOC journalists and increase the stories in the media about BIPOC culture.

Created to be “a place to pitch ideas and catapult careers” of filmmakers of color, Arkansas Soul lets students put what they learn into action.

“The site is a place where you can go and get your portfolio started, and you can be published. You might even get the attention of major news outlets. That’s the dream,” Reed said.

The site has grown from a few hundred visits to thousands each month. Reed cites the scholarships, grant funding for video projects and a documentary and the partnerships created as evidence of its success.

Originally from Peoria, Ill., Reed graduated with an English degree from the University of Memphis in 2005, and earned a master’s degree in journalism and communication from the University of Arkansas in 2010. Her digital marketing clients include the Memphis Area Transit Authority, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the National Wildlife Federation.

In 2015 she began Branded By Nikki, a small digital marketing boutique firm. Reed’s goal is to build her own media agency.