Over a year ago the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) released a new marketing video produced by Logan Coles Sea Change Entertainment. — The video is extremely well-done and beautifully captures the history and future of the Black Press. The problem is that relatively few people know about the video. Presently the video has less than 200 views on Youtube. I am, of course, not under any impression that the video would go viral like the latest Beyonce video. Still, the Black Press has been and continues to be at the core of the African American experience. In this sense, the video merits greater attention, particularly from the academic community. The question, then, is how does the NNPA get the word out and make Black newspapers relevant to new generations of Black people in the United States?
One way I might suggest is to establish better relationships between Africana and African American Studies programs and courses with individual Black newspapers, the NNPA (http://nnpa.org/) and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Simply put, the Black Press should be featured in every course on the Black experience in the United States. Africana/African American Studies programs should also formally recognize and celebrate Black Press week in March to commemorate the founding of the first Black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal. Academic programs and organizations might also consider inviting the NNPA and individual Black newspapers to play significant roles in academic organizations such as the Association for the Study of Worldwide African Diaspora, National Black Studies Conference and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History annual conventions and meetings. Even something as relatively simple as Africana and African American studies department and program’s purchase of a yearly subscription to a local Black newspaper for its students, staff and faculty conveys a huge investment in the Black Press. Finally one of the most significant contributions academics can make to the Black Press is to write Op-ed pieces and columns for the over 200 Black newspapers that continue to sustain and preserve Black communities across the United States. Our voices and thoughts on issues matter. Indeed, a rich tradition of Black intellectual publication in Black newspapers exists. We do a great service to the Black Press when we deem it important enough to publish our work.
I am certain that the things I have suggested here are already occurring in some measure, large and small, at many colleges and universities. However, we must do better if we expect to see the Black Press thrive and continue into the next century.