Editorial: The Black Press:189 years old and still going strong

Editorial: The Black Press:189 years old and still going strong
June 30
05:45 2016

Media reports recently revealed that according to a Gallup poll, Americans have only 20 percent high confidence in newspapers these days. Of course, they were talking about daily newspapers.

If a study had been done on community newspapers, we believe the statistics would be different, maybe even reversed: that only 20 percent of Americans don’t have high confidence in community newspapers.

Now look at black community newspapers: The Black Press was founded 189 years ago and is still going strong.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) convention in Houston, Texas, last week shows that. The organization that represents 200 black newspapers in the United States is wired for the 21st century. Convention-goers were tweeting with photos constantly all during the convention while large monitors showed the flow of tweets to #NNPAHouston2016. Sessions were being videotaped. Laptops and tablets could be seen throughout the convention. Digital audio recorders were there, too. Newspapers sent digitally to NNPA were displayed for all to see on presentation boards.

Discussions on branching into other minority and underrepresented communities emerged, also.

But amid the new things were the old ones that have made The Black Press great. Convention-goers discussed issues that affect the black community, such as health, wealth and the criminal justice system.

Experts from across the nation joined publishers and others in lively discussions.

Winston-Salem was represented two ways: with The Chronicle and Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) Services Co. Reynolds American sponsored the session “Criminal Justice Reform: The Issue of Menthol and the African American Community.” It was one of the liveliest discussions during the convention as the pros and cons of criminalization policies in the United States and how they affect the black community were discussed.

The Federal Drug Administration is looking at criminalizing menthol in cigarettes, which is used in RAI products. A large amount of African-Americans buy those types of cigarettes.

Amid the discussions and tweets came the time for the newspaper publishers and their staffs to shine for work produced in 2015.

The Chronicle, owned by Publisher Emeritus Ernie Pitt, was among the newspapers vying for awards.

Al McFarlane, chairman of the NNPA Foundation, which conducted the 2016 Merit Awards, made this announcement at the awards dinner: “We have discovered a new vitality. We are masters of the niche.”

McFarlane is owner of Insight News in Minneapolis, Minn.

The Chronicle won one first-place award, for Best Sports Section; two second-place awards, for Best Layout and Design, Broadsheet, and Best Special Section (for the National Black Theatre Festival publication); and one third-place award, for the historic photo of the Mass Moral Monday March in July in Winston-Salem, taken by staff reporter-photographer Tevin Stinson.

“I believe we are about to do a new thing in The Black Press,” McFarlane said.

The Chronicle is proud to be a part of it.

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