The National Newspaper Publishers NYC Conference Part I

By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

The National Newspaper Publisher’s Association (NNPA) recently wound up their national conference in New York City, leaving me with what I call a reporter’s nightmare. Why do I use that phraseology? Because I could elect to just do a sound byte round up of activities, or I could choose to go in depth. And you who know who I am, know that I have to take it deeper than just the activities themselves. I have to talk about what it means to us as Black people and where do we go from here. That’s why I have this Blog, Eclectically Black News, so we can really deal with the relevance. So here we go:

Under the dynamic leadership of Danny Bakewell, Chairman of the Board and now owner/publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, the NNPA Conference got off to an impressive start with a stellar reception in Macy’s executive suites, in midtown Manhattan. Bakewell comes from an activist background, as leader of the Brotherhood Crusade, a well respected organization that has for nearly 40 years been making a difference in the lives of Black people in and around California. With Bakewell devoting his time, talent, tenacity and attention to the National Newspaper Publishers Association its future success bodes well for us all, regardless of whether you're a reader or a part of the Black press.

NNPA Board members, Walter Smith, publisher of the New York Beacon (formerly The Big Red News) and Thomas Watkins, publisher of the Daily Challenge, New American and Afro Times (under the Challenge Group umbrella), served as hosts for the three-day event, which started on June 16, 2010 and ended on Juneteenth, Saturday, June 19.

Most people have little to no understanding of what most Black newspaper publishers have to go thru to put out a paper on weekly, daily, or bi-weekly basis. While some make it look easy, have large offices and operations, and a broad based staff of writers and reporters; there are just as many who are “mom and pop” operations, with the work and the publishing being done in a small one-room office. Some publishers are often armed with nothing more than a computer and a camera. (Did I say “computer?” There were days when the tools were typewriters, manual ones at that. But somehow our Black newspapers were still published).

At the end of this article is a comprehensive list of NNPA member papers throughout the US. Some, like the Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier and Chicago Defender, have either crossed or are near the century mark, having stood the test of time. Others, no less significant, have been around now for three quarters of a century, “speaking truth to power”, and find their mission no less important today, than when they were founded in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s.

Some of these papers represent your home town, or the home towns of your friends and relatives. If they’re not already doing so, please encourage them to subscribe to their local Black newspapers. It’s the conduit to key information we need to succeed in this society and in the world.

As a kid in Oklahoma, I read the Black Dispatch, founded in 1913 by brother Roscoe Dunjee. My family had a subscription (I almost said a prescription, because reading about your own people, written by your own people, is good for what ails you.) I clearly remember there being articles and issues in the Black Dispatch that were not in the Daily Oklahoman and Times (a white paper that seemed not know we existed until the sit ins of the 60’s). Though the photos were somewhat darker than we liked them to be, the information was always accurate and detailed. Not only did we get news about what was happening with Blacks in Oklahoma, but they took a stand, and often called for action from the community. They also reported on Blacks in other parts of the US as well. Unfortunately, it is no longer published.

Historically speaking, the progenitors of our Black Press, which is the collective term for Black newspapers, were three Black “freed”men: Bostin Crummell, Rev. Samuel Cornish, and John B. Russworm, who, over 183 years ago in 1827, right here in New York City, met with other Black Freedmen to deal with racist white publications. As a result, Cornish and Russworm founded Freedom’s Journal, the first Black news publication in the US, because regardless of how many well meaning whites wrote positive articles about the then existing slaves and freedman, they felt it important to speak for themselves. “We wish to plead our own case,” was the raison d’etre for establishing the paper, and remains so today.

183 years ago! You have to ask yourselves who was reading the papers then? In the South probably no one since it was against the law to teach Black people to read. So it meant there were several educated free Black families in New York, Boston and points north sufficient to require and sustain such a publication.

How were they paid? Did they have advertisers or subscribers such that there were sufficient funds to underwrite these publications? Who were the advertisers? And who were the reporters? Who did the actual publishing. Did we have the machinery, equipment and supplies back then to consistently print our paper or did we have to rely upon well meaning whites to get it done? Talking about making a way out of no way!

Publishing is a no joke career. While now college courses and formulas teach publication, I have no doubt that, today, as it was back in the early 1800’s, Black publishers did not get into publishing just for the money. Most responded to a nagging “divine discontent” -- an underlying frustration, laced with a burning passion to get our story straight; get the story out about who Black people are, what we do, and our own tribulations and aspirations.

There is a desire -- no, a need; better yet, a requirement -- to see ourselves through our own lens; not the distorted, racist lens that most white papers use. Most Black publishers, back then and now, were probably originally writers who just wanted to tell the truth, and found that in order to get that truth to the people who needed to hear it, they also had to be concerned with the printing, distribution and continued gathering of information.

They found that getting that truth out cost money to obtain the paper, the print and the distribution. Many of these frustrated writers have morphed into being publishers as well. The passion for the truth also meant controlling the variables as much as possible; making sure that the means and the conduit for that truth were in place; and the people who were best able to write the truth in a compelling manner were engaged so that the ongoing communication with the public was maintained.

Being a publisher is a never ending battle, you know. I applaud the brothers and sisters who take on this task, because the Black press has an overlay the mainstream press does not have: constantly combating character assassination.

While subscription is an important component of Black newspaper publishing revenue, it is what architect Dan Watts, publisher of the Liberation Magazine, called “Necessary, but not sufficient.” Advertising was, and is, as essential as all the other components.

In point of fact, advertising is the life’s blood of the ongoingness (is that even a word?) of publishing and production. And, as it was 183 years ago, it still is a sad fact today that relatively few of the Black businesses and organizations advertise with their local Black publications; while at the same time relying on those very same publications to get the word out about their activities and issues.

Fortunately, there have been some positive powerful alliances forged with such corporate giants as AT&T Communications, Macy’s, and others who realize the value of advertising with the the National Newspaper Publishers Association, whose circulation literally reaches 80% of the African American community nationwide.

If you take all the 220 NNPA member newspapers in the aggregate who try to keep Black people informed, we have a formidable wealth of information on our side.

This must have been what John H. Sengstacke realized when he founded the then National Negro Publishers Association in 1940. According to NNPA history, Sengstacke was heir to the Robert S. Abbot Publishing Co., and called a conference that would give attention to advertising, editorial, and news gathering problems, while also recognizing omnipresent racial issues.

Prior to that efforts to bring Black newspaper publishers together began in 1875 in Cincinnati, Ohio, when former reconstruction era Lieutenant Governor Pinchback, of Louisiana, called publishers of that day together. Sengstacke’s initial meeting only culled 22 Black publications; but these publications came together for “harmonizing our energies in a common purpose for the benefit of Negro journalism.”

They changed the name to National Newspaper Publishers Association in 1956. The NNPA’s monumental history includes such great writers, editors and journalists as: Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Langston Hughes, Romare Bearden, James Weldon Johnson, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Daisy Bates (Gloria Dulan-Wilson).

Likewise, where Black publications are pitted against mainstream -- often biased -- white publications, you often find that a less well educated population of African Americans read white publications (NY Post, NYTimes, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, as examples), as though they contained all the truth and all the information they needed; while turning their noses up at their own ethnic papers.

When you divide our power to enlighten and educate by the residual slave mentality so many of our people display, our overall effectiveness is seriously reduced. As Michael House, publisher of the Chicago Defender, state: “We still have a long way to go in getting to our people.”

Recently, while riding the subway, I was reading the Amsterdam News when an ignorant (negro) person snarled: “They still publish that paper?” Unfortunately for them, I was definitely the wrong person to say that to. So I retorted: “Are we still Black? As long as there’s a Black person on this planet they will still be publishing Black newspapers. You think you going to get relevant info in that rag (the Post)?”

Then I showed her that I not only had the Amsterdam News, I had the Daily Challenge, The NY Beacon, The Carib News, The Gleaner, Our Times Press, Caribbean Life and the Final Call. It was on a Thursday afternoon, and I usually pick up all the Black publications to make sure I’m up to date with what’s happening with us.

I make it a policy not to read white racist publications that delight in taking snipes at our leaders, or telling half-truths, or a total distortions, without balancing it with our own news. Generally the white press just gives some truncated mention about some event we participated in, when we’ve been doing so much more. When want to know what's really happening I read relevant Black publications. And fortunately in New York we have a broad selection to choose from.

Of course, the rubric that we have to read the mainstream in order to know where they’re coming from still applies; but the idea is not to be manipulated by them, taking an inferior position as a result. You don’t have to be manipulated into thinking they’re some sort of authority. (There are certain publications that have been so hostile to Black people, that I only use their pages to paper train my dog - if you get my drift).

Interestingly enough, when most Black men buy a mainstream newspaper, they immediately start with the Sports section in the back. Perhaps it’s because they know that’s probably the only place in the paper where they’re more likely going to say something positive about Black people. No point in reading the rest of it since most of the terminology used is pejorative and hostile; characterizing us as criminals and miscreants. Check it out sometimes.

Once when I was giving a talk for Black History Month, I did an experiment with Black high school students. I gave them copies of The Daily Challenge News, and watched to see what our youth would do. Most of the girls read the paper from the beginning, while, sure enough, the boys immediately turned to the back page looking for sports. When I informed them that, unlike the mainstream papers, there was plenty of good info the front of the paper as well, they looked totally surprised. I also informed them that they generally won’t find the headlines of a Black newspapers leading off with some perceived crime committed by some one Black.

In fact there are more relevant articles of importance to the Black community, more information about local and national Black figures; more uplifting articles. They don't sugar coat the bad, they just don't make it their only focus. Refreshing after a long day of dealing with a pervasive culture bent on depicting you as unworthy. There's a pledge from the NNPA to state our own case, tell our own story. And they've been fulfilling that pledge for 70 years.
Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Part II includes highlights of Rev. Al Sharpton's address to the audience.
Part III includes Rev. Berniece Albertine King's address to the audience.
Part IV highlights of the Award presentations to Congressman Charles Rangel and Motown Mogul Berry Gordy.

Below are the current
NNPA Member Papers
Birmingham Times
Birmingham World
Greene County Democrat
Mobile Beacon-Citizen
Montgomery-Tuskegee Times
Speakin' Out News
Arizona Informant
American News
Bakersfield News Observer
Black Voice News
California Advocate
California Voice
Compton Bulletin
H.G. Star 1 News (Photo News)
Herald Dispatch
L.A. Metropolitan Gazette
L.A. Watts Times Inc.
Los Angeles Sentinel
Oakland Post
Our Weekly
Pasadena Gazette
Pasadena Journal
Precinct Reporter
Sacramento Observer
San Diego Voice & Viewpoint
San Francisco Bay View
San Francisco Sun Reporter
Tri County Sentry
Wave Community Newspapers
Denver Weekly News
Hartford Inquirer
Inner-City Newspaper
Umoja News
District of Columbia
Afro-American (Washington)
Capital Spotlight
News Dimensions
Washington Informer
Washington News Observer
The Bulletin
Capital Outlook
Central Florida Advocate
The Community Voice
Daytona Times
Florida Courier
Florida Dollar Stretcher
Florida Photo News
Florida Sentinel Bulletin
Florida Star News
Florida Sun
Florida Tribune
Jacksonville Advocate
Jacksonville Free Press
The Miami Times
New American Press, The Miami Times
Northeast Florida Advocate
Orlando Times
Out Front South Magazine
Palm Beach Gazette
Pensacola Voice
The Weekly Challenger
Westside Gazette
Albany-Southwest Georgian
Atlanta Daily World
Atlanta Inquirer
Atlanta Sun
The Atlanta Voice
Augusta Focus
The Champion Newspaper
Columbus Times
Fort Valley Herald
Freedom's Journal
Georgia Sentinel Bulletin
Macon Courier
Metro Courier
Savannah Herald
Savannah Tribune
The African-American Voice Newspaper
Chatham-Southeast Citizen
Chicago Defender
Chicago Independent Bulletin
Chicago New Crusader
Chicago Shoreland News
Chicago Standard Newspaper
Chicago Tri-City Journal
Chicago Weekend
Chicago Westside Journal
East St. Louis Monitor
Final Call
Futures Newspaper
Hyde Park Citizen
Jet Magazine
Muslim Journal
New Metro News
South Suburban Citizen
South Suburban Standard
Southend Citizen
The Times Weekly
Today's Chronicle
The Windy City Word
Frost Illustrated
Gary Crusader
Gary Info
Indiana Herald
Indianapolis Recorder
Scoop Magazine
Louisville Defender
Key Newsjournal
Data News Weekly
The Drum
Louisiana Weekly
New Orleans Tribune
Shreveport Sun
Alexandria News Weekly
Afro-American Newspapers
The Baltimore Times
Prince George's Post
Unity First
The Blazer Newspaper
Ecorse Telegram
Grand Rapids Times
Michigan Chronicle
Michigan Citizen
Saginaw County Weekly
Take Pride Community


Insight News, Inc.
Minneapolis Spokesman
Jackson Advocate
Mississippi Link
Mississippi Memo Digest
Kansas City Call
The Kansas City Globe
St. Louis American
St. Louis Argus
St. Louis Metro Sentinel
Omaha Star
Las Vegas Sentinel Voice
New Jersey
City News
The Connection
Twin Visions Weekly Publications
New York
Afro American Times
Buffalo Criterion
Challenge Group
Hudson Valley Press
Jersey City Daily Challenge
New American
New York Amsterdam News
New York Beacon
New York Carib News
New York Daily Challenge
The New York Voice
Westchester County Press
North Carolina
Carolina Peacemaker
The Carolina Times
The Carolinian
Challenger Newspaper
The Charlotte Post
Iredell County News
Wilmington Journal
Winston Salem Chronicle
The Buckeye Review
Call & Post (Cleveland)
Call & Post (Columbus)
Cincinnati Herald
Cleveland City News
Columbus Post Newspaper
The Communicator News
The Reporter (Akron)
Toledo Journal
The Ebony Tribune
The Tulsa Oklahoma Eagle
Observer (Portland)
Skanner Group (Portland)
New Pittsburgh Courier
The Philadelphia Tribune
Pittsburgh Renaissance News
Philadelphia New Observer
Rhode Island
Providence American
South Carolina
Black News South Carolina
The Charleston Chronicle
Community Times Dispatch
Gullah Sentinel
Pee Dee Times (Community Times)
View South News
Memphis Silver Star News
Metro Forum
Nashville Pride
Tennessee Tribune
Tri-State Defender
African-American News and Issues
African News Digest
Capital City Argus
Dallas Examiner
Dallas Post Tribune
Dallas Weekly, The
East Texas Review
Houston Defender
Houston Forward Times
Houston Newspages
Houston Style
Houston Sun
Informer & Texas Freeman
La Vida News Dallas
La Vida News Houston
Minority Opportunity News
San Antonio Observer
Smith County Herald
Southwest Digest
Villager, The
US Virgin Islands
Virgin Island Daily News
Journal & Guide
Metro Herald
Richmond Free Press
Richmond Voice, The
Metro Home Maker
Northwest Dispatch
Seattle Medium
Seattle Skanner
Tacoma True Citizen
Thurston County Dispatch
West Virginia
WV Beacon Digest
Madison Times, The
Milwaukee Community Journal
Milwaukee Courier
Milwaukee Star
Milwaukee Times Weekly
Milwaukee Weekend Edition

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