Our new segment “Behind The Scene” is designed to inform those looking for employment and specifically young people who will soon enter the workplace that there are a variety of career opportunities that they may have never considered. This week we go behind the scene with the Black Press.
Contrary to what many have been led to believe “newspapers are not dying”. Has the industry changed? Yes but name an industry that hasn’t gone through changes over the years as technology and customer preferences have changed.
We are constantly reminded daily that we are living in the age of information. Today, people of all ages want and consume more news than ever. According to a University of Southern California study, “Americans are absorbing five times more information a day than in 1986.
As the needs of the community have expanded and mainstream media is perceived as more inclusive, some believe the role of the black press is either no longer needed or at least not so easily defined. Those individuals like Irv Randolph, managing editor of the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest, continuously running African American newspaper in the United States argues that it is vital and critical that we have a specific outlet for our population. That the mainstream media is still very separate and there are not a lot of opportunities for us to speak or to be heard.
“In order for the Black press and Black media as a whole to truly compete with mainstream media outlets, ownership is the key”, says Sara Lomax–Reese, president and general manager of WURD Radio, Pennsylvania’s only African American-owned talk radio station. “It takes money to have the ability to tell your own story,” she said. “And until we have more economic freedom, it will be hard to change the media landscape”.
The Courier Eco Latino newspaper is a family-owned business and the only bi-lingual publication in the tri-city publishing to the African American and Hispanic communities in both English and Spanish. We were founded for the same reason Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwarm started the very first African-American paper in 1827 called Freedom’s Journal. Freedom’s Journal initiated the trend of African-American papers throughout the United States to fight for liberation and rights, demonstrate racial pride, and inform readers of events affecting the African-American community.
Our focus is specifically on Columbus, Ft. Benning and Phenix City. We place our emphasis and efforts on those political, social or economic issues that impact our lives. We confront the issues that need confronting and ask the questions that need to be asked. That is what we try to do with every issue, in an effort to stand true to the history of the Black press. Our mission, which we’ve chosen to accept, is to inform, empower, educate, inspire and when appropriate entertain. We offer the African-Americans of our community an opportunity to see the news through the lens of their own eyes. Most times, as you can imagine and have witnessed, that view is a far cry from the view reported by the mainstream media in the tri-city.
When you consider the number of different positions available in the newspaper industry, due to budget constraints, working at a minority newspaper you will often find employees assuming more than one role.
There are more than 200 African American newspapers publishing in the United States. Like mainstream publications minority newspapers depend mainly on advertising dollars.
Most of us, as publishers, struggle day-to-day to keep afloat due to the disparity of advertising dollars compared to mainstream print publications.
This leads us to develop other streams of revenue that includes developing creative advertising opportunities such as seasonal and or special sections, quarterly magazines and digital sales. For us, in addition, we provide an advertising agency.
When it comes to the average salaries for the various positions as you can imagine in comparison to mainstream media we cannot compete. To compensate many of us hire individuals as independent contractors.
As family members, we learn early on that when you choose to work for the family newspaper business it is a labor of love.
We realize we wake up everyday with the knowledge that it is because of our commitment to our community, our race, our concerns, and our issues that we are recording and preserving our history our way for years to come.