After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., singer James Brown spoke on black radio stations urging people not to riot. He took to black radio because he knew the community would be tuned in.
But now, Richard Prince in his “Journal-ism” column for The Root, says the black press is dying. All the signs are there. For one, Pew Research Center totally left out the black press in its new “State of the News Media 2014” report. Even though the center says it will cover the black press in another report, the omission is ominous.
“When asked whether they have either read — or have knowledge of — a black newspaper in their home communities only about 20 percent say they have. Among those who are aware of the papers, almost none say they read them with any regularity. Let me emphasize, these are journalism students…” writes Clint C. Wilson II in “Whither the Black Press?: Glorious Past, Uncertain Future.”
Even the National Newspaper Publishers Association has complained recently that its members aren’t getting the respect they’re due.
The ad world is surely ignoring the black media. Advertisers set aside just three percent of their $2.2 billion annual budget for media targeting at black consumers, according to a new Nielsen report. This despite the fact that annual black spending is projected to rise from its current $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion by 2017.
Even President Obama has been accused of disrespecting the black press. George E. Curry, editor of the NNPA News Service, said of Obama’s slight on TVOne’s NewsOneNow With Roland Martin: “There is a disrespect for the black press that we have not seen in recent years. For example, we have requested — every year — an interview with the president. He can ignore 200 black newspapers and 19 million viewers, but he can give one to every stupid white comedian there is on TV, the black ones and the white ones, and has time for all types of buffoonery but they will not respect the black press enough to give us an interview.”
But despite the lack of ad dollars, dwindling readership, competition from blogs, and the difficulties attracting staff, the National Newspaper Publishers Association has maintained a membership of more than 200 newspapers for nearly years.
When was the last time you read a black newspaper?