By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
President & CEO National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)
2017 will mark the 190th anniversary of the Black Press in America. Since the first publication of Freedom’s Journal on March 16, 1827 in New York City, Black owned newspapers have been at the forefront of being the consciousness-raising voice of Black America. Today in 2016, Black owned newspapers still matter.
Black Lives Matter. Black Votes Matter. Black Press Matters. In order to continue to overcome racial inequality and injustice, we have to emphasize the importance of nurturing and mentoring the rise of a new generation of freedom-fighting journalists, publishers and African American owners of newspapers and media companies.
There is a huge qualitative difference between media that is Black owned as compared to non-Black owned media that is targeted to Black consumers. Numerous national studies have documented that Black owned newspapers remain the “trusted and respected” source of news, empowering success stories, and cultural aspirations for more than 45 million Black Americans.
The inaugural Discover the Unexpected (DTU) NNPA Journalism Fellowship Program this summer at the Howard University School of Communications supported by Chevrolet has done remarkably well in identifying and encouraging the next generation of gifted, talented and committed young journalism scholars. The National Newspaper Publishers Association is pleased with the positive and transformative results of the DTU fellowships.
The NNPA fellows scored front page news features in selected NNPA member newspapers across the nation. In addition to attending both the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the NNPA fellows completed assignments that covered a wide range of news interests including news on Muhammad Ali’s legacy, Black arts and culture, contemporary urban Black family life, 2016 Olympics in Rio, mass incarceration, new data on police and prosecutorial misconduct and abuse on African Americans and others, the quest to cure Sickle Cell Anemia, and the struggle to preserve Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
During the past months, Brandi Montgomery and Brelaun Douglas were at The Atlanta Voice; Briahnna Brown and Mckenzie Marshall at the Chicago Defender; Victoria Jones and Rushawn Walters at The Washington Informer; and, Tatyana Hopkins and Sidnee King were at the Michigan Chronicle.
Black owned newspapers are businesses and employers that continue to serve the economic development interests of Black communities. As the economy in the United States continues to rebound from economic stagnation and recession under the leadership of the first African American President, it should also be a national priority to ensure the advancement of the economic wellbeing of Black families, businesses, and communities.
President Barack H. Obama, in the face of historic political opposition in Washington, DC since his first day in office, has achieved leadership success in restoring and revitalizing the U.S. economy. In particular the automotive industry has set new records this year in automobile sells. Thus, we note with appreciation those companies in the automotive sector that have been supportive of the NNPA during these difficult and challenging times.
General Motors brands continue advertise with the NNPA and as a consequence contributes to the sustainability of the Black Press in America. In particular, Chevrolet has been outstanding in its support of Discover the Unexpected scholarships as part of the current NNPA fellows program. Chevrolet also increased its advertising with many NNPA newspapers this year. It is our hope that this successful pilot program will be continued and even expanded in the next academic year from fall 2016 to spring 2017.
Long live Black owned newspapers and the struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Yes, Black owned newspapers surely do matter.
Learn more about the Discover the Unexpected (DTU) program at http://www.nnpa.org/dtu/ and use the hashtag #DiscoverTheUnexpected on Twitter. Follow us on Twitter @BlackPressUSA and @NNPA_BlackPress and like our Facebook page at NNPA Black Press.