The Black community and the millions of readers our newspapers are reaching today are richer, more educated, geographically diverse and both socially and politically more astute. For this reason, the same formulas used in the past for covering and informing our community will not suffice. Over the next decade, the Black press will be forced to change, along with other members of the press, to effectively address the challenges and promises offered by the fast-paced changes of our information-based society.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association was founded in 1940. It serves as the trade organization, the national news and commentary bureau, and the collective voice of most of todays Black press. We have believed, and we still believe, that the best and strongest voice is the chorus.
With more than 210 member newspapers, the NNPA is a significant voice in the discourse on Black issues on the national, and when important, local scenes. With the improvements promised by enhanced technologies, the NNPA will become an even more powerful tool for spreading the news and the "Black positions" on virtually any issue for the entire world to know and understand. With the Internet, Intranet and the World Wide Web, media scholar Marshall McLuhans "global village" is allowing all of us equal space in which to set up a post. The entire world has become a multicultural, ideologically diverse newsstand. More than thirty years after the cry at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the whole world, linked through the Web, is indeed watchingand listening, and reading. To that end, we will soon launch an Intranet service, NorthStar, that will provide expanded news, commentary and investigative reporting for our member papers. A Black Press Institute, dedicated to market research and training, is in the planning as well.
The Black press and its institution, the NNPA, has always played an important role in helping America become her best. Early in the century we demanded an end to lynching, fought for the right to vote and buried too many of our brothers and sisters and friends in our national quest for justice. Going forward, the NNPA will continue the battles through the effective use of unified electronic networking to "drum" out the word to our communities and the rest of the world. We will continue to speak as a powerful singularity of many voices, for the act of speaking up for ourselves is both legacy and mandate.
John J. Oliver Jr.