While big, breaking news stories will always be covered, Black media looks for and amplifies the holes in coverage related to their community. By generating those stories and using traditional, digital, and social channels, Black media puts that news front and center.

For nearly 200 years, Black media has provided the Black community a voice on social, political, and economic issues that they face. How did Black press begin? How did it grow? And what is the state of Black media today? Let’s take a brief look at its evolution.

“We wish to plead our own cause.”

In 1827, a group of prominent free African American citizens met in New York City to discuss how to share information on issues they often confronted. While news was frequently shared in churches or social and fraternal organizations, there were no unified or broad means in place. Standard public media were typically denied to African Americans due to their race.

A clear need was identified: a way to share news.

A result of that meeting in 1827 was the launch of the Freedom’s Journal, the first newspaper produced by Black Americans. Created by Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russwurm, the journal proclaimed, “Too long have others spoken for us… We wish to plead our own cause.”

This sentiment has remained front and center for Black media who have continued to chronicle and comment on events and their impact on the Black community over the last nearly 200 years.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association

In 1941, a meeting took place in Chicago bringing together Black publishers to build momentum and expand their reach. This led to the formation of the National Negro Publishers Association, renamed in 1956 as the National Newspaper Publishers Association. NNPA is a trade association of more than 200 African American-owned community newspapers from around the United States.

Since its founding, the NNPA has consistently been the voice of the Black community and an incubator for news.

Black Media in 2022 and Beyond

Today, Black media outlets in the United States have broader reach than ever before. They have weathered the decline of print, the pandemic which ravaged the journalism industry, the movement to social media, and the ongoing issue of breaking stories being credited to more mainstream counterparts. And throughout this process, Black media outlets continue to evolve, embracing partnerships to increase their reach, and new technologies and platforms to ensure their message is highly visible.

So, what does Black media look like today? How can today’s communications professionals leverage the power and reach that Black media have to build programs that benefit organizations and readers alike?

Business Wire and Black PR Wire brought together three industry experts to examine the state of Black Media in 2022 and the differences between Black and mainstream media. Moderated by Bernadette Morris, founder, owner, and CEO of Sonshine Communications, Black PR Wire, Business Wire’s media partner, the panel featured:

This in-depth conversation covered how Black media leads discussions related to race, equality, justice, healthcare, and more — and how the reactions to these articles often fuel coverage by mainstream media.

Learn more

Download our whitepaper, The State of Black Media in 2022: An Overview for Public Relations Professionals.

Watch our on-demand webinar, The State of Black Media 2022.


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