By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the Black Press of America trade association, wrapped its 2022 convention in New Orleans with a cruise along the Mississippi River aboard the Creole Queen Riverboat.
But the convention, which celebrated the 195th anniversary of the Black Press in America, wasn’t about smooth sailing – especially given the issues facing African Americans and other marginalized communities.
Following a first-day chairman’s reception, Black Press publishers got down to business, officially kicking off the four-day conference by providing a platform for a new generation.
Mark Thompson, the decorated journalist and host of the podcast “Make It Plain,” moderated the topic, “Amplifying Voices of Generation Z and Millennials Through the Black Press of America.”
Electrifying the audience were on-air personality Jonita “Go JJ Go” Buchanan, DaNeshia Bell, Joshua McMillian, Lafayette Barnes, and Melony Mainor.
The panel discussed how young African Americans view the importance of the Black Press’s future, emphasizing the need for publishers to enhance their digital presence on platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram.
Erica Myles, the senior consultant and senior vice president of Diverse Segments, Representation, and Inclusion for Wells Fargo, discussed the topic, “Relationships and Resources: Tools to Move Black-owned Small Businesses from Surviving to Thriving.”
A General Motors contingent spoke with NNPA President, and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. about “The Path to Inclusion is Electric: How GM is Building an All-Inclusive Workforce to Build an All-Electric Future.”
Representatives from GM and Wells Fargo also sat for a live interview on the NNPA’s national news program, “Let It Be Known.”
“The Google News Initiative Lab: Growing Digital Advertising Revenue” panel featured publishers James Washington of the Dallas Weekly, Janis Ware of the Atlanta Voice, Google News Initiative employees Eric Rosato and Casey Pallenik, and Association of Alternative Newsmedia Manager Todd Stauffer.
Munson Steed, the Rolling Out National Publications publisher, presented the topic: RIDE (Rolling Out Innovation Digital Entertainment) Lab for NNPA Publishers.
“I want NNPA Publishers to think digital,” Steed exhorted as he led a discussion, “Steps to lead to making money; criteria for hiring the right people, OTT (Over the Top), changing the mindset to become a media mogul.”
The Baltimore AFRO and The Final Call were big winners at the NNPA Fund Messenger Awards, which included the presentation of scholarships to underserved students.
Dr. John Warren, the San Diego Voice & Viewpoint publisher, spoke on the topic, “Public Policy and Media Income.”
Dr. Warren remarked that public policy results from local issues growing and becoming law. “Such laws become public policy and media, for a price, provides discussion,” Dr. Warren related.
Transformative Justice Coalition Founder Barbara Arnwine and board member Daryl Jones joined Dr. Chavis and members of the NNPA board to announce a “votercade” aimed at registering 10 million new African American voters.
Arnwine told a captivated panel that their organization had recorded 72 voter suppression tactics to prevent a large population from casting ballots.
Among them are strict voter laws in many Republican-led states, deceptive practices like robocalls; early voting cuts; and voter intimidation.
“Black voters did our share in 2020,” Arnwine remarked.
“Ninety-three percent of all eligible Black voters registered in Georgia. Yet, in the 2021 Georgia Senate run-off, 93 percent of all registered Black voters turned out. That’s why people don’t understand where the real power is.”
Dr. David Childs, a professor of Black Studies, Education, and History at Northern Kentucky University, led a discussion on the “Black Press and the Antidote to Racism in America” with the Houston Defender’s ReShonda Tate-Billingsley and Aswad Walker.
Nissan joined NNPA Chair Karen Carter Richards in a discussion about the automotive company’s DEI and philanthropic initiatives and the importance of the Black Press in corporate America.
Zillow officials also hosted a presentation on “The State of Black Homeownership in the U.S.”
Representatives from In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda hosted a panel entitled “Reproductive Justice.”
At the same time, Reynolds tackled the topic, “Recognizing the Black Press and the Role it Plays in Black America.”
Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry received the NNPA 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award, while Rep. Maxine Waters and entertainer Stephanie Mills took home Legacy Awards.
Mills, who first gained fame as “Dorothy” in the Broadway hit “The Wiz,” performed some of her most iconic hits, including “Home” and “I Never Knew Love Like This Before.”
Many in attendance agreed the conference proved among the best in the NNPA’s 82-year history.