Black ExperienceStacy M. Brown

Newspapers Essential During Chaotic Times, Industry Says

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered 75 percent of the workforce in nonessential services to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In Miami-Dade County, Florida, Mayor Carlos Gimenez expanded a closure order to include malls and casinos.

In San Francisco, more than 7 million people are affected by a lockdown order there, including all non-essential businesses.

Throughout the country, public officials have ordered the shutdown of nonessential businesses with the goal of stemming the spread of the coronavirus. But there’s an ever-growing call to ensure that print newspapers and the companies who run them are considered essential.

“It should be readily apparent that local news publishers are carrying out an absolutely essential function in conveying accurate, reliable and critical information to the public at a time of great need,” said David Chavern, CEO of the nonprofit News Media Alliance. “Many consumers are using our digital products, which can often be created and accessed remotely. However, there are still a large number of readers who rely exclusively on the production of our print products.”

Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade organization that represents the 230 African American-owned newspapers and media companies that make up the Black Press of America, said the printed page certainly counts as essential.

In a letter to NNPA publishers, editors, partners, sponsors, advertisers and supporters, Chavis noted the coronavirus pandemic has had a crippling effect on America and the world.

Amid the national health crisis from the expanding pandemic of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, the Black Press continues to publish and inform 50 million African Americans through our print and digital properties, Chavis wrote.

“As an alternative to convening in Washington, D.C. this week for 2020 Black Press Week, we are recognizing and saluting the 193rd Anniversary of the Black Press of America virtually and digitally across the United States for the remainder of this year,” Chavis noted. “All of our publications continue routinely to print and our websites and social media channels are being updated hourly and daily.

“We are the national trade association of these African American owned publishing industry businesses,” he said. “It is important that we keep our businesses open, viable and sustainable during the duration of the current global health crisis.

“We, therefore, especially thank all our corporate partners and sponsors, as well as our philanthropic supporters of the National Newspaper Publishers Association,” Chavis wrote. “Through your continued support, we are able to continue to be the trusted voice of Black America.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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