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Time for Change in the Black Press?

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Author Says Papers Have Not Kept Up With Today's Readers

Curry Rated Most Liked Among Newscasters of Color

Ebony Apologizes to RNC Staffer After Twitter Exchange

Paper Debuts Digital Magazine for Black Conservatives

"Restorative Narrative" Describes Coping With Trying Times


Juju Chang Replacing Cynthia McFadden on "Nightline"

Is Putin Playing to Russian Racists With Latest Move?

Fusion Special Focuses on Crisis in Venezuela

Doris E. Saunders Dies at 92, Librarian, Writer, Professor


Short Takes


Cheryl Pearson-McNeil, Nielsen senior vice president, left; Cloves C. Campbell Jr., chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association; and Dawn Paul of Houston Style Magazine in September at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 43rd Annual Legislative Conference. (video)

Author Says Papers Have Not Kept Up With Today's Readers

The black press was not part of the "State of the News Media 2014" report issued this week by the Pew Research Center — the center says it is saving that for later — but a new book by an expert on that slice of media points to the "serious nature" of its problems.

"One devastating piece of circumstantial evidence of the waning influence of the Black press is the response I have received from journalism students in my virtually all Black Howard University classes over the past decade," Clint C. Wilson II writes in "Whither the Black Press?: Glorious Past, Uncertain Future." "When asked whether they have either read — or have knowledge of — a Black newspaper in their home communities only about 20 per cent say they have. Among those who are aware of the papers, almost none say they read them with any regularity. Let me emphasize, these are journalism students. . . ."

The black press has a storied history of fighting first slavery, then segregation. More recently, its trade organization, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, has complained that its newspapers do not get the respect they deserve. It equates the black press with the black community.

"Although annual Black spending is projected to rise from its current $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion by 2017, advertisers allot only 3 percent of their $2.2 billion yearly budget to media aimed at Black audiences, a new Nielsen report has found," an NNPA news release declared in September.

Scott Pelley of CBS News interviews President Obama Friday. The black press says

George E. Curry, editor of the NNPA News Service, complained last week that President Obama was disrespecting the black media, too.

"There is a disrespect for the black press that we have not seen in recent years. For example, we have requested — every year — an interview with the president. He can ignore 200 black newspapers and 19 million viewers but he can give one to every stupid white comedian there is on TV, the black ones and the white ones, and has time for all types of buffoonery but they will not respect the black press enough to give us an interview,” Curry said on TVOne's "NewsOneNow with Roland Martin."

In his book, Wilson, who holds the title of graduate professor emeritus in the Howard University School of Communications, where he teaches courses in communications, culture and media studies, sees it differently. "In the wake of the election of the first Black President of the United States it is possible the Black press won the war for social equality it waged for more than 185 years," wrote Wilson, whose father, Clint C. Wilson Sr., was a longtime editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Sentinel, a black weekly.

"During my interviews with general audience newspaper and broadcast journalists, however, I have emphasized the positives," Wilson wrote in his book's preface.

"1. The National Newspaper Publishers Association (the Black press trade association) has maintained a membership of more than 200 newspapers across the United States for nearly two decades.

"2. I contended that although they are almost all weeklies, several are very profitable and innovative publications attuned to the pulse of their communities.

"3. I asserted that despite the challenges of new technology information platform, the high cost of newsprint, declining advertising dollars and the dissipation of their once homogeneous audience, the Black newspaper press is still viable.

"4. In the wake of the election of the first Black President of the United States it is possible the Black press won the war for social equality it waged for more than 185 years.

"As this is written, however, it is becoming more difficult to make such positive declarations, or at least without acknowledging the serious nature of problems besetting the Black press. . . ."

Much of the problem has to do with lack of resources, Wilson writes in a concluding chapter.

"A December 2012 posting on Richard Prince's online blog 'Journal-isms' reported an editorial staffing change at the Chicago Defender. The report noted that the new editor was to oversee a four-person staff. As paltry as that may seem, many Black weeklies operate with even fewer reporting/editing personnel. This reflects the fact that they are, after all, small business enterprises.

"Nevertheless, despite the need for only a few reporters and editors to adequately staff their operations, it is difficult for Black weeklies to hire from among the hundreds of African American college journalism graduates that hit the job market each year. For perspective, in 2012 Howard University alone graduated more than 100 students with bachelor's degrees in journalism. In an era when White daily newspapers are downsizing their staffs, Black newspapers cannot offer competitive salaries to attract the available Black talent pool. In 2007 a non-scientific sampling undertaken with the support [of a] Ford Foundation grant found beginning salaries at Black newspapers to be 50 to 75 percent lower than those at the dailies. Compounding the problem is that most African American college journalism students of the 21st century have never seen an African American newspaper nor are they aware such publications exist.

"Moreover, editorial staff employment — wherein the Black press is tasked with addressing the many untold stories of the African American community — is problematic because of the in-depth, investigative reporting required to ferret out the often hidden and nuanced ways that racism and discrimination affects 21st century citizens. The issues are not as obvious as slavery versus freedom, a Klan-inspired lynching, or segregated public accommodations. The investigative skills required to uncover environmental indignities where hazardous waste sites are placed near low-income Black communities or for stories involving tedious computer searches of public records that contain evidence of discrimination cannot be done with overburden, ill-equipped staffs. . . . "

Wilson subscribes to a thesis advanced by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson in his 2010 book "Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America": that there is no longer one black community. He suggests that the black press pick a segment of it. He also notes that the black press of bygone days was "bottom up," with robust discussions in locally written letters to the editor, rather than the national opinion columns that predominate on today's black press opinion pages.

"When readers do not take an active part in the public forum and conversation opportunity the local newspaper affords them, it is a possible indicator that the publication's basic news content has failed to address the most salient issues," Wilson writes.

Cloves C. Campbell Jr., publisher of the Arizona Informant and chairman of the NNPA, told Journal-isms by email that he had not seen nor read Wilson's book.

However, Todd Steven Burroughs, an independent journalist and black press historian, said by telephone that if Wilson revises his book, he might include more of the black press' efforts in the digital space. In fact, Burroughs said, the "black press" should be expanded to include citizen journalism, "black Twitter," YouTube and other social media, and such black websites as Media TakeOut and WorldStarHipHop. "People are creating their own news," Burroughs said. "People's habits have changed. The black press that serves as an agenda-setter" for the black community is gone. As an example, he cited this piece on comedian Dave Chappelle, distributed only on the Internet.

It might appear in a black New Yorker, if there were such a thing, he said.

Ann Curry, Tamron Hall, Michaela Pereira, Alex Wagner, Sanjay Gupta

Curry Rated Most Liked Among Newscasters of Color

Ann Curry (No. 8) and Tamron Hall (11) of NBC, Michaela Pereira (14) and Sanjay Gupta (20) of CNN and Alex Wagner (23) of MSNBC made TheWrap's list of most-liked newscasters, based on survey results from the Q Scores company, Tony Maglio reported Friday for the Wrap.

Scott Pelley of the "CBS Evening News" topped the list, with a 19 Positive Q Score.

"To create Q Scores, executive vice president Henry Schafer and his team [provide] a personality's name and a brief description to more than 1,800 viewers. The viewers are asked if they recognize the person, and how they feel about him or her," Maglio wrote.

"Compared to other TV personalities — from late-night hosts to morning hosts — newscasters tend to be less recognizable and less liked. (Maybe it's a case of blaming the messenger?)"

NBC's Chris Matthews "had a lowly 6 Positive Q Score. Fellow MSNBCer Alex Wagner is just above her colleague, scoring an 8. Andrea Mitchell, Leslie Stahl and Dr. Sanjay Gupta round out the bottom five, each earning a 9," Maglio wrote.

TheWrap noted that it requested Q Scores for these news media personalities, but that scores were not available: Bret Baier, Brian Stelter, Brooke Baldwin, Candy Crowley, Chris Hayes, Don Lemon, Erin Burnett, Greta Van Susteren, Jake Tapper, John Berman, Megyn Kelly, Ronan Farrow and Wolf Blitzer.

Ebony Apologizes to RNC Staffer After Twitter Exchange

Raffi Williams"EBONY magazine has issued an apology to RNC staffer Raffi Williams after its editor Jamilah Lemieux slammed Williams (a black man) on Twitter as a 'White dude telling me how to do this Black thing,' " Josh Feldman reported Friday for Mediaite.

Jamilah Lemieux

"When Lemieux was confronted about getting Williams' race wrong, she offered a trite apology while adding, 'However, I care about NOTHING you have to say.' RNC Chairman Reince Priebus put out a statement denouncing Lemieux's 'attack' and called on EBONY to apologize. And now they have done just that, acknowledging that Lemieux's comments were not part of the magazine's long tradition of believing 'as Black people, we are all somebody —we all count.'

The apology also said, "EBONY strongly believes in the marketplace of ideas. As the magazine of record for the African American community, Lemieux's tweets in question do not represent our journalistic standard, tradition or practice of celebrating diverse Black thought."

Williams is a son of Fox News commentator Juan Williams.

Paper Debuts Digital Magazine for Black Conservatives

"The Washington Times on Thursday launches American CurrentSee, a free weekly digital magazine for conservative black Americans," the newspaper announced on Wednesday. "The magazine, available at www.americancurrentsee.com, aims to empower its readers to embrace an agenda of economic opportunity, moral leadership and freedom from government dependency.

"The Times said Dr. Ben Carson, the world-renowned neurosurgeon whose entrance into politics has excited conservatives nationwide, will serve as founding publisher and Armstrong Williams, who is an entrepreneur, a TV and radio host and a nationally syndicated columnist, will serve as executive editor.

"They will work with an advisory board comprised of business, community and church leaders who will offer insights and strategies for coverage, business models and community outreach.

"American CurrentSee is built on a mobile-friendly HTML 5 platform that works on laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones and re-creates the intimate reading experience of a newsmagazine while leveraging the capabilities of mobile devices. It can also be installed on desktops like an app. The Times plans to offer official apps in Google and Apple stores this spring.

"An edition will be published each Sunday morning, and readers will be alerted to the fresh content via email. . . ."

Articles in the inaugural edition include, "Black list: Media shuns African-American achievers" by Juan Williams, "The new racism looks a lot like the old" by Armstrong Williams, "Screen savior: Black cinema is safe haven for faith on film" by Kira Davis, "Life without Father" by Dame Luthas, "Manners, Motown and other-mothers" by Kristin Clark Taylor, "The sturdy roots of stable rights" by A.R. Bernard and "Dare to be independent ... from dogma, dependency (and liberals)" by Carson.

Nga Doan, right, of Fountain Valley, Calif., and her 21-month-old son, Frederik

"Restorative Narrative" Describes Coping With Trying Times

"Many news organizations have reported on what happened to Kim Pham — a 23-year-old who was beaten to death outside of a nightclub in Santa Ana, Calif.," Mallary Jean Tenore wrote Friday for Images & Voices of Hope, a site whose mission is "to strengthen the role of media as agents of world benefit."

"Fewer, though, have reported on how Pham's death has impacted family, friends and the hospital workers who cared for her," Tenore continued.

"In a piece published earlier this week, Los Angeles Times reporter Anh Do did just this. Her story takes readers inside the hospital where Pham was treated and paints an intimate picture of a life taken too soon. Her story is an example of a genre we're calling Restorative Narratives — stories that show how people and communities are coping with difficult times. They convey resilience and feelings of care, love and respect.

"Do, who reported on the nightclub beating with general assignment reporter Adolfo Flores, says curiosity and reader interest in Pham prompted her to want to continue following the story. . . ."

Juju Chang Replacing Cynthia McFadden on "Nightline"

Juju Chang"As Cynthia McFadden packs for NBC, ABC is wasting no time in announcing her replacement at 'Nightline,' " Chris Ariens reported Thursday for TVNewser.

"ABC lifer Juju Chang has been named co-anchor of the ABC News broadcast effective immediately.

" 'Juju is the perfect example of someone whose dedication and tenacity to innovative reporting have paved the way for her success,' ABC/Disney co-president Ben Sherwood writes in a note to staff.

"Chang, who has been with ABC News her entire career, starting as a desk assistant, is married to former NBC News boss Neal Shapiro, now president of WNET. . . ."

Is Putin Playing to Russian Racists With Latest Move?

Russian President Vladimir Putin's move to annex Crimea could be part of a bid to solidify the support of Russian skinheads and extreme nationalists, an expert on Russia and Eastern Europe said Tuesday on NPR's "Fresh Air."

"Well, it's difficult to know yet but we do know that there [have] been increasing instances of ethnic conflict throughout Russia over the past decade," Kimberly Marten, a professor of political science at Barnard College and deputy director for development at Columbia University's Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, told host Terry Gross.

"There was a really, really bad instance this past October when there was a major riot in one of the suburbs of Moscow that was between ethnic Central Asians and ethnic Russians, and the Russian police seemed to come in on the side of the ethnic Russians.

"The people who were punished for the riots were the Central Asians, even though there is some evidence that it was Russians who provoked it. We know that there have been repeated instances of Russian skinhead groups going into markets in Moscow and elsewhere in the major Russian regions where people from the North Caucuses, from Chechnya and elsewhere in that region, had violence committed against them, have had their market stalls overturned, have been beaten up, in some cases even murdered.

"In some cases people, just for having dark skin, have been pulled off subway trains or commuter trains in Russia and just been beaten up by skinhead groups. And so we don't know for sure that that's the direction that Putin is heading but he took the first step in that direction by what he said in that speech to the Russian parliament a few days ago.

"And if he no longer cares what the rest of the world thinks and if he believes that that's the direction that he has to go to maintain control over Russia, that could be very disturbing for what happens down the line."

Gross asked, "What quote are you referring to?"

Marten replied, "Oh. Just talking so much about the Russian ethnic population rather than talking about the Russian state interest, using Russkii rather than Rossiiskii. The whole tone of his speech before the Parliament was very ethnically nationalist in a way that is unusual for Putin. And so by making that switchover, going into ethnic terminology rather than Russian state interest terminology, Putin has really indicated that he's making the first step towards extreme nationalism. . . ."

Fusion Special Focuses on Crisis in Venezuela

"Last night Fusion’s Mariana Atencio (@MarianaAtencio) hosted a primetime special on the ongoing crisis in Venezuela entitled #SOSVenezuela," Fusion, the partnership between ABC News and Univision, announced by email on Friday, enclosing a link to the program.

The crisis in Venezuela has been widely criticized as being undercovered in the United States.

"At least 33 people have died in student protests plaguing Venezuela," the announcement said. "Anti-government leader Leopoldo Lopez has been in prison for a month. The mayor of the city with the strongest protests was imprisoned for allowing people to exercise their right to protest. Opposition Congresswoman Maria Corina Machado was stripped of her seat and is being blamed for treason, terrorism. 1700 students have been detained. But young people keep protesting against the deteriorating quality of life in Venezuela.

"You haven’t heard much about the uprising because local censorship in Venezuela is brutal, international media has been dormant to the Venezuelan plight. The images of repression coming out of this country in past weeks point toward the fact that Nicolas Maduro's government has become more autocratic. But what caused Venezuela to unravel? Why should you care? Fusion wants to tell you the story of the 10 days that caused Venezuela to unravel, 10 days that began the fight for Venezuela's future." More on Fusion's coverage.

Doris E. Saunders Dies at 92, Librarian, Writer, Professor

Doris E. Saunders

Doris E. Saunders, a librarian and former journalist at Johnson Publishing Co. who retired in 1996 as chair of the Department of Mass Communications at Jackson State University, died Monday in Jackson, Miss., of complications from dementia, her daughter, Ann Saunders, told Journal-isms. She was 92.

"Doris realized at an early age that she had a voracious appetite for literature and consumed it in its various forms with a passion," according to the draft of an obituary prepared for the funeral service, to be held Tuesday in Chicago. "Using her literary talents, she began her career in the Chicago Public Library System in 1942, later becoming its principal reference librarian in the Social Science and Business Department.

"In January of 1949 she accepted the position of Librarian with the young firm of Johnson Publishing Company (JPC), which was just moving its offices into the old Hursen Funeral Home at 18th and Michigan Avenue. Following the move, she was instrumental in the process of cataloguing company documents and materials and specialized in doing background research for JPC's editorial staff. She later became Associate Editor of Negro Digest Magazine and in 1961, Director of JPC's Book Division.

"While serving three stints in that capacity, from 1961–1966, 1973–1977, and again from 1997–2000, Doris contributed her editorial and compilation skills to numerous JPC publications including: 'The Day They Marched,' 1963; 'The Kennedy Years and the Negro,' 1964; 'The Negro Handbook.' 1966; 'The Ebony Handbook.' 1974; 'Black Society,' 1976; 'DuBois: A Pictorial Biography,' 1979; 'Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey.' 1981; and 'Special Moments in African-American History: The Photographs of Moneta Sleet, Jr.,' in 1998.

"In between the periods she worked for JPC and while raising two children, Doris was employed as a columnist for the Chicago Daily Defender and Chicago Courier newspapers, 1966-1973; and she was the Director of Community Relations for Chicago State University (CSU), 1968-1970. In that capacity she was instrumental in CSU's decision to locate its campus within Chicago's black community. Doris also held the position of Staff Associate at the University of Illinois-Chicago, 1970-1973.

"In addition to her work in print media, Doris held positions in radio and television throughout the last four decades of the 20th century. In Chicago she hosted the radio show 'The Think Tank', 1971-72; she was both writer and producer of the television show, 'Our People,' 1968-70; and in Jackson MS., she produced/hosted the radio program, 'Faculty Review Forum' at station WJSU, 1987-93.

"After completing two graduate degrees at Boston University, in 1977 Doris accepted the position of Professor of Print Journalism and Mass Communications at Jackson State University, (Jackson MS). In 1991 she became chair of the Department of Mass Communications, a position she held until her retirement in 1996. During this period Doris was also a Distinguished Minority lecturer at the University of Mississippi (Oxford MS), 1986-88, and a contributing author to many professional journals and magazines. . . .

Services are scheduled Tuesday at the Church of St. Edmund, King & Martyr, 6105 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60643. Visitation is at 10 a.m. and the service at 11.

Short Takes

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Comments

Cross-Postings From The Root

Jehu

Just about every institution our ancestors built, the last two generations have destroyed. Our ancestors taught us well: We ignored their lessons and grasped instant gratification and materialism.

What true black press remains is hanging by the threads of a few subscriptions and the benevolence of a few advertisers. The rest of what we see are fronts and puppets.

DequindreCut

Makes me grateful that between the two largest Black papers in Detroit, the Michigan Citizen and the Michigan Chronicle, as well as a few others such as B.L.A.C., I feel better able to critique that which gets disseminated via the mainstream because Gannet has its own agenda.

goldtree5

They can’t sell ad space with no readership.

The decline of black newspapers and other black owned institutions is a consequence of desegregation. We were taught that spending our money at the white owned diner was a privilege and a sign of status, by default we started seeing the black diner and other black institutions as inferior.

A change in that attitude would solve multiple problems.

George Johnson

This is an excellent article and the comments are great. In Omaha there is only one black person with a talk show and most of the stuff he covers is about elite negroes or his republican buddy. There is no hard hitting news because we are sitting on the sidelines begging for handouts instead of demanding our fair share of the dollars, media attention or spots. How is it that National Public Radio, Fox and all of these media giants can control the media and we can't figure out how to get our 15 minutes of fame for the average black person in our communities? I am not talking about some negative anti-role model housewives, or the other negative images that these saltines force feed into our communities. Most of the black folks in journalism are not doing anything outside of what their bosses tell them. We got to develop our own ways of communicating to each other beside Facebook and internet radio.

Frederick Lowe

Richard, NNPA is a closed shop.

I have an online newspaper The NorthStar News & Analysis www.thenorthstarnews.com, and I attempted to join NNPA in 2011. I was told NNPA did not accept new members. I traveled to an NNPA event in Washington, D.C., at my own expense and got nowhere.

The newspapers which are dominating black coverage are not black owned. They include The Root, Grio and possibly Ebony, which received a huge cash infusion from JP Morgan Chase & Co. The Root is owned by the Washington Post and Grio is part of MSNBC. The Root, Grio and Ebony are news aggregrators. Most of their stories are via the Associated Press or other wire services. Very little of their reporting is original.

When there is original reporting, it is usually wrong. The Root recently published a story about the "first' black woman named president of a prestigious university. The story was very wrong. Ruth Simmons was president of Smith College and Brown University long before the woman The Root was touting. Recently, Ebony called a black Republican white.

These publications are not doing basic reporting, which is checking the facts. I am sure President Obama sees this as do other publications. Finally, there is a strong need for a black press that reports on issues that affect the African-American community.

blackspeak

Whites, especially those who practice and promote the social material system of white supremacy are not interested in anything the "black press" has to say about, if it has anything to do with President Barack Obama.

PJohns 

As long as the black press focuses on celebrity BS, they'll have a problem. When they focus on items that matter they do well.

icantrememberallofmyaliases 

The confusion and consternation shouldn't be targeted to the students only. They come from families and secondary schools that didn't care about minority anything let alone the press. Everything has been on a corporate track in steering our people to trust in Big and to ignore small.

The parents and grandparents and school teachers are at fault for all thinking they arrived to a centralized mainstream to forget and ignore prized products of Black America that still needed infusion. People act like Millennials are products of abiogenesis. No, they come from "tuned out" Blacks. But also our very colleges perpetuated this of their alumni who brought these kids into this world making them feel they have no duty to Black collective socialization.

High schools definitely have taught our children to not want to be Black full-time or even tangentially. These kids today are Black by convenience of how they can spin it and the concessions set aside for Black People that they can exploit in lip service.

freejazzman

Any Black student seeking to be a "journalism" major yet unaware of the Black paper in his/her town is in the wrong major.

MXB20141

Heck no. They're just an echo chamber  now for mainstream (decidedly antiblack) media.  But thanks to the internet, all us freelance journalists without boots to lick and have more of an influence.

icantrememberallofmyaliases

Ebony is cultish. It changed from being afraid of everything too controversial to become Afro-Bohoish with group-think tendencies to paint up Black Righteousness. You have to be friends with them to get fair treatment or fall under the centric interests of Afro-Bohemian thought. It's sad that the example to render light to this has to be with the RNC and a phenotypically looking Black man who is mistaken for White. I probably would have made the same mistake thinking he was White but Jamilah tends to construct viewpoints that actually resemble the polar opposite equivalent to Fox News.

If you disagree with them too many times, they will delete your account. They need to be ethically investigated at the new Ebony. Reminds me of Lord of the Flies.

icantrememberallofmyaliases

The same issue with how many (too many) graduates from journalism schools also needs to be counted about the theater program at Howard and other fine arts at Howard. The numbers should be counted about fine arts from Spelman and FAMU. We are in a tech world and we should have a report shared about the numbers for decades of these soft majors, the soft sciences, and the hard sciences to know where our graduates went/go/develop/perform.

The market-bsed structure of HBCUs simply ALLOWING the freedom to intake students who may not do well after graduating with so much debt in soft majors is astounding. I met a sophomore at Howard whose every conversation is about how she is not sure why she is paying for a theatre degree that she really can't afford while still showing up to class. The school won't tell her to stop and I this is her daily narrative weighing on her. She is mesmerized by the legacy and it captured her like a drug. She knows this and is waiting for someone else to pull the plug but no one will because Howard likes to have those theatre majors just like they love to have those journalism majors touting Zora Neale Hurston as their guidepost. It's so righteous.

Howard needs a "come clean" (long) moment.

icantrememberallofmyaliases

Let's be honest. For the past post Civil Rights years, the halls of Howard's Communication school (when you walk in) are lined up with photos of Blacks who went to Howard who mostly all crested corporate ascendancy in the journalism field. The first floor is not an ode to the Black Press. It's an ode to Corporate America. How could the Black Press be revered by Black college students who now for going on 60 years have a taste for the Black Press? Howard's Communication school tells them to find their redemption and check in the corporatocracy. It didn't do the math for how many students it put out and where they went. This professor either is naive or was putting off the reality that was always there.

J Schools put out so many Black students that have to find work and that work is for the corporatocracy. Ebony and Jet and Essence as well as bee-essers like Sister-to-Sister can't hire all graduates. And Howard is just one school. Doesn't FAMU have a journalism major? But many Blacks graduate from Columbia and Northwestern ready to rumble for those jobs and this has been happening for decades. They want a good check, notoriety, and a chance to climb the ladder in their company before bouncing around. Well, that's how it was.

But that's only one reason why the Black Press has no clout. I think the Black Press has no clout is because the Black Press kowtowed for two many decades maybe reporting contentious issues but for the most part avoiding them and not centralizing attention to them beyond the old folks who read the paper but never planned to do anything about those Black issues. It's like the readers were all in nursing homes/senior living centers even though many who read the papers were able bodied and moving around. There was no activism to go along with the papers. The papers were created as activism originally. Think about the heralded stories we knew about Frederick Douglass' paper, Zora's editorialship, and even AJ Smitherman in Tulsa (Black Wall Street). The same as the Jews' had (still have) The Forward, we had a mission for our papers to be more than perpetuity driven enterprises. Our missions were serious hands-on empowerment and those missions changed when WE ARRIVED.

I remember the attempts of BET early on to give us good journalism with George Curry's magazine and tv show. I was a teen who watched it because I was mesmerized by seeing such smart and confident Blacks on tv after the civil rights era tell it like it was. And even though Bev Smith wasn't journalism, she had an integrity to her show. BET was committed in the very beginning before the music industry dictated the Post Civil Rights lifestyle and eventually the culture of BET. I think at that time, those who were journalists and seeking intent to carry the torch were committed and then sold out.

QuietThoughts

I understand what is being said but I also know the reality is that every newspaper in the country is having hard financial times and many are closing their doors. It isn't enough to have readership, you must have advertisers and advertising dollars are going to on line and immediate sale paradigms. (Click and buy it NOW)

 knowledgeisking

Not all people are stupid. There are enough people wise enough to understand that the "liberal" media (CBS, ABC, NBC, the "Black Press", etc.) have become a front for the democrat party. They no longer report and give balanced "news" ... they have an agenda to push their audience in a given direction ... not what those of us who can think for ourselves are looking for.

The numbers are in and Fox News is the most trusted, respected news organization in the U.S. The Black Press should take notice (including theRoot).

QuietThoughts

 @knowledgeisking

Faux Noise? Trusted??? "We aren't reporters and don't need to check facts, we are commentators". Buwahahahahahahahahah...

The best part, even crackers like you come to a black site for your news.

Sewejer6 

Was it ever? [refers to headline, "Is the Black Press Still Powerful?']

From Joel Dreyfuss on the black press

From Joel Dreyfuss:

Those who write about the black press seem to suffer from a kind of cultural amnesia. The audience for the black press shifted from newspapers to magazines in the 1950s. Jet, Negro Digest and Ebony captured the post-WWII black audience that abandoned the black newspapers. One reason was technology: Ebony had high quality photos, Jet was nationally distributed. Editorial focus changed to celebrate black progress: readers got a steady diet of black "firsts", black celebrities living in integrated neighborhoods. There were still occasional hard-hitting stories- Emmett Till in Jet, Ebony's "The White Problem in America." But majority-owned newspapers also took over the stories - civil rights, discrimination, black militancy, poverty that had been the exclusive purview of the black press.

In the 1970s, Essence, Black Enterprise, and Encore captured the emerging trends – and the younger, more affluent African-American demographic. Young black women got a magazine that dealt with their new freedom in an integrated environment; Black Enterprise (where I was M.E. and Executive Editor 1980-83) addressed black entrepreneurial aspirations and black corporate life; Encore was more openly political with a global vision. If you look at peak circulations - Ebony- 2 million, Essence - 1 million+, Black Enterprise - 250,000, the black audience didn't stop reading the black press - it just shifted from newspapers to magazines.

Most black newspapers failed to adjust to the new lifestyle trends - many were the personal vehicles for the political ambition of their owners and stayed with an aging ( and poorer) audience. That limited their ability to get advertising. Few publishers were willing to invest in staff or equipment when confronting limited revenue growth.

When we tried to launch Our World News in the mid-1990s, we envisioned a colorful, graphically-driven weekly magazine in newspaper format - something like a Rolling Stone with a black perspective. But we couldn't raise enough money to launch - partly because potential mainstream investors wanted to see black financial support. Black folks loved the concept, but they wouldn't open their wallets. And much of the black press lobbied hard against us, scaring away potential investors.

 

Black Press

The Black press is still stuck somewhere between 1965 and the 1972. The management of some of those papers have no respect for their employees. Some simply have no money and others are poorly managed and don't use their resources to invest in their papers. The Black press can't retain good reporters because salaries are so low.

The Black Press: Change or Die

I'm amused by George Curry's whining to Roland Martin how President Obama ignores the Black Press.  Why should the president be any different from most of Black America?   The problem isn't the president pays no attention to the Black press.  The problem is the Black press gives him no reason he should. 

The Black Press has a rich history and a poor future.  Most young people don't read Black newspapers, don't see how it is relevant to their lives and can smell the musky, antiquated and old-fashioned mindset behind far too many of them.   As a former editor and reporter of the Columbus Post newspaper, I witnessed first-hand the push-and-pull between the reporters, editors, photographers, and staffers who were committed to creating a quality product and the publishers who were more interesting in protecting their turf,  currying favor with favorite politicians, pushing their pet projects, schmoozing with old cronies, nursing grudges and settling scores with other prominent individuals in the Black community. 

It got real old, real quick.   So did the bounced checks, poor equipment, sketchy financial situations and slipshod committment to quality journalism.  In my stint as editor, I frequently had to pay freelancers out of my own pocket and when the paper laid off most of the staff I had to take the publisher to court to receive my back pay.

The tragedy is there has never been a greater need for a healthy, robust, dynamic and energized Black Press.  Many of the advances made by African-Americans are under assault by a hostile Republican Congress, a fickle and unprincipled Democratic Party, right-wing actvists from the Tea Party to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Now more than ever the Black Press is needed to tell our truth to our people and now more than ever it seems irrelevant as its glory days seem behind it.

I respect what the Black Press has contributed to the progress of African-Americans, but until there are more business-minded visionaires commited to serious journalism than fast-buck hustlers and egotistical, ethically-challenged con-men who exploit and betray their staff,  I want no part in it.  It was a great experience, but knowing what I know now, I would never repeat it.  

 

Jeff Winbush

Columbus, OH

 

 

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