Despite the doom-sayers, there continues to be very strong, innovative and vibrant publications among the latter 20th century ranks of the Black press. Examples include the Winston-Salem, North Carolina Chronicle, an award winning journal and envy of many mainstream newspapers; the colorful and attractively designed Miami, Florida Times; and the St. Louis, Missouri American, whose publisher, Dr. Donald Suggs, has shown how profitable and editorially respectable a free circulation organ can be. In 1995 the Indianapolis, Indiana Recorder observed its 100th anniversary and the Dallas, Texas Weekly earned critical acclaim for its special editions examining the problems and proposing solutions to the prevalence of youth gangs and crack cocaine in its community. Said Ernest Pitt, publisher of the Winston-Salem Chronicle in a 1989 interview, Black newspapers can stay competitive in the foreseeable future because economically "We’re in a gold mine with the lights out."2

     As the Negro press began celebration of its 170th anniversary, it could report increased membership in NNPA over the span of the 1990s with more than 200 publications on its rolls. Because not all Black newspapers are NNPA members, it was estimated in 1995 that more than 300 Negro-owned papers were being published in the United States at the time.

     In the early 1970s Eustace Gay, then an elder statesmen of the Black press, "could foresee no time in the immediate future when the Negro...will be able to get along without a Press dedicated to his peculiar needs...." Even more infinite was the prospect pictured by Elizabeth Murphy Moss, a contemporary of Gay’s who was vice president and treasurer of the Afro-American Newspapers: "There is and always will be a need for Black news media..." Robert E. Johnson, late executive editor of Jet magazine, who died in 1995, once put it another way: "As long as there are Black people, there is still a place for Black journalism in this country."

     Writing in 1994 in "Milestones in Black Newspaper Research,"3 a publication on the status of the Black press, Robert W. Bogle, then president of NNPA declared:

     To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. The Black press is very much alive and well. Though we are struggling with issues facing all newspapers, our reason for being remains strong. And we have not waivered in our commitment to our readers. We plan to continue to serve the African American communities around the nation with the information that helps them survive and prosper in a dynamic society.


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February 2000