The shrinking and growth of Black media

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Sun-Times CEO Edwin Eisendrath with Dorothy Leavell at Rainbow PUSH's women's leadership luncheon, announcing sale of the Chicago Reader to Leavell's media group (Photo: James Foster)

By C. Dwayne West

No one can really predict the demise of traditional print media, even though many have tried to speculate on where such media outlets were headed for nearly a decade. Some experts said it was dead. Others thought it would make a resurgence. And your average reader was following the headlines concerning if print would be dead or alive in 2018.

I’ve even made my own assessment about where I though the printed word would be at this time. Would it be a shrinking medium or would it rise to the occasion? As I look around at many publications that have bitten the dust, I also paid close attention to how new digital platforms producing and presenting content were taking shape. I truly wondered what was the future of not only print media but black media, for that matter.

I wondered would there be a need for people to feel newsprint or glossy magazines in their hands? Would the next generation of Americans care about books and specialty printed periodicals? Would the world be reading and consuming information from their hand-held devices called smartphones? Or most importantly, would consumers just not care about reading or listening to anything black?

The stacks and stacks of newspapers in today’s printed world is fading but many have and will survive to continue delivering news and information relevant to the America people starving for a mix of content

These were questions that have pondered around my brain for nearly ten years. And my answers to self, is what prompted me to conceive TBTNews. As CEO and founder of a publishing company in which I’ve printed several hard-copy publications, I was absolutely enthralled in the printed word. Actually, I still love it! Nothing like browsing through a glossy magazine looking at crisp photos of home decor. Reading a great feel-good book under a soft light while chilling in bed is priceless.

Therefore, when the time came to dissolve my actual magazine and move into the digital space, I was very reluctant, sad and confused. It took me nearly two-years to finally concede and trash the physical concept of distributing my early Works of Words. Hence the launch of my first online news service. And the rest is history.

Recently, I just witnessed a close ally and someone I can call a mentor, purchase what some say is a dying brand. Dorothy Leavell, the publisher of the Chicago Crusader and Gary Crusader, decided she wanted to stay in the printed game. I applaud her, with great respect and admiration, and I pray that this new venture proves more valuable for the future of black media.

But I know that the business of print is suffering and she knows that as well. But as a pioneer and visionary, Leavell obviously sees something that many do not. Never will I question her business decisions or acumen. She has survived in this space for literally as long as I’ve been alive. She’s super smart!

Her acquisition of a major local newspaper is history, and its questionable, at best, to many. But I got my money on Dorothy and her talented and amazing team at the Crusader brand in Gary and in Chicago. The printed word has taken a major hit over the last ten years or so and it’ll continue to see struggles. But if hindsight is 20/20, then again, Mrs. Leavell has x-ray vision.

If Dorothy’s vision can truly see around the corner and into the future, she has landed herself in a great position. Most importantly, this woman is fierce and committed, and I know that she’ll die trying to save a shrinking market while also reviving the black press! Until the next edition….. Peace and One Love.

I Write to Differ…

 

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