The Mission of the Black Press of America – Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018by Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (President and CEO, NNPA) May 14, 2018
There is an old African proverb that says, “What you seek, you will surely find.” We live in a world where the news cycle continues to decrease, because of innovations in communications technology. Yes, we are living in the fast-paced digital age. The high-velocity delivery and transmission of news and information, however, may or may not produce authentic or accurate facts or simply the truth.
Yet, for more than 47 million Black Americans the reality of life’s multiple challenges and opportunities are not the primary concerns and focus of what is popularly known as “mainstream media.” Thus, the value and mission of the Black Press of America today is more strategically important than ever before, for Black Americans and others who embrace the trend-setting cultural, academic, technological and game-changing achievements that are accomplished daily in Black America.
This is why the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is pleased with the continued partnership between the General Motor’s Chevrolet Division and the NNPA to sponsor the 2018 Discover the Unexpected (DTU) Journalism Scholarship and Fellowship Program. We are identifying and mentoring the next generation of young, gifted, talented and committed journalists and publishers who will rise to take their rightful place as our future community leaders and business owners.
Seeking out the best of Black America, not only in the field of journalism, but also in the overall context of the long-protracted struggle for freedom, justice, equality and empowerment is of the utmost importance. This summer in Georgia, Virginia, New York and in Washington, D.C., six NNPA journalism scholars selected from Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) located across the nation will have the opportunity to work in Black-owned newspapers.
These outstanding NNPA DTU Fellows will also journey together to highlight and file news reports about real life stories that are occurring in our communities. In the current national media climate where allegations of “fake news” are routinely propagated, we will welcome receipt of the news and inspirations from the writings, videos and social media postings of our young, aspiring journalists.
We are also grateful to the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) for assisting Chevrolet and the NNPA to notify and reach HBCU students attending 120 HBCUs across the nation about the DTU fellowship opportunities. In fact, over 23,000 online responses were made by students who were interested in the DTU program.
Reviewing and evaluating the numerous applications that were submitted revealed the tremendous academic achievements and commitments of HBCU students, who fervently desire to serve the empowerment interests of Black communities via their respective journalism skills and talents. This, in itself, is a good news story.
Too often we only learn or hear about the tragic injustices and systematic racial discriminations that are in fact facets of the realities that are all too prevalent in Black America. We need, however, more balance and truth-telling in the media when it comes to the struggles and plight as well as the resilience and transformation of Black America.
For more than 191 years, since the first publication of “Freedom Journal” in March 1827, the Black Press of America has continued to be on the frontlines reporting our triumphs, defeats and our successful resistance to oppression, injustice and inequality. Each generation has a responsibility to help prepare the next generation to take the baton of history and to run to win by breaking and setting new records of achievement and excellence of all fields of endeavor.
Again, we publicly thank General Motors – Chevrolet for enabling the NNPA to award this group of young, freedom-fighting scholars to sharpen their pens and commitments to become champions of the freedom and responsibilities of the press. The Black community will benefit. All of America will benefit. The DTU Fellows will seek and they will find. They will also exemplify the good news.
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)