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Amber Payne leads the way in media to elevate the Black identity

Amber Payne Photo by Lucy Polly

Amber Payne (Photo Credit: Lucy Polly)

Amber Payne is the first managing editor of NBCBLK, a section within NBCNEWS.COM that launched in early 2015. With its focus on stories “by, for, and about the Black community,” Payne is charged with cultivating writers and editors who can elevate the conversation about Black identity, politics and culture today.

Since it’s launch, NBCBLK has had the opportunity to report on a range of stories. They interviewed Bill Cosby when his rape allegations were reaching a fever pitch and Ava DuVernay as she was being celebrated for her movie Selma. This past February the site celebrated Black History Month by unveiling its inaugural list of “industry and community leaders who are constantly striving to break barriers and defy stereotypes, redefining what it means to be Black in America today.”

The goal is to “tell stories that engage inspire and inform communities of color. That’s part of what I want to showcase here. Have the conversation that no one wants to have or no one wants to go there, from mental health, reparations [and] the N-word; there’s a lot of things people don’t want to talk about. One thing we’re trying to accomplish, having our subjects own their narrative,” Payne told The Wrap.

“Black’ means many things. Not everyone identifies as African American or Black. We have a lot of variety and children of immigrants. It’s about stories about the Black diaspora nationally and worldwide. One of my contributors lives in Copenhagen, [Denmark]. The pool of journalists we’re pulling from is multicultural and racial. It’s not ‘for us, by us.’ It’s NBC News talent, anchors, correspondents at NBC and CNBC,” Payne explains.

The Path

While a student at the University of Virginia, Payne’s focus was media studies and studio art. Her first job after college was as a researcher, production associate for NBC Nightly News. She was promoted to associate producer after two years then producer.


Payne spent 10 years at NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams where she wrote, shot, and edited breaking news and feature stories.

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