Black Press holds annual convention

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Dorothy R. Leavell

Crusader staff report

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is holding its 27th annual conference this week at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland just outside Washington, D.C.

This year’s theme is “Celebrating 190 Years of Black Press in America in Legacy, Innovation & Empowerment.” As part of its theme, 10 historic Black newspapers that are 100 years old or older will be saluted during a workshop session.

The five-day conference runs from June 20-24. It features the NNPA Annual Merit Awards, a highly anticipated competition among the nation’s 200 Black newspapers. The St. Louis American aims to sustain its dominance by capturing the John B. Russwurm trophy for Best Black Newspaper for the sixth consecutive year. Overall, the newspaper has won the John B. Russwurm trophy, and John Sengstacke Award for General Excellence, 12 times.

With declining print revenues, lingering digital challenges and civil rights under siege in the nation’s capital, the NNPA is at a critical crossroad as it fights to maintain relevance and credibility in an era of “fake” news.

Black newspaper publishers will elect a new chairman to head the organization at this year’s convention. NNPA incumbent Chairman Denise Rolark-Barnes is see-king reelection in a heated race with Crusader Newspaper Group Publisher Dorothy R. Leavell. Scholars say the heated race is healthy for the Black Press.

In addition to the merit awards and elections, the convention will hold seminars, workshops and forums that will address issues currently impacting Black newspapers.

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