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2021 is finally ending, and the best (or worst) I can say about it is the year “happened.”

COVID happened. Jan. 6 happened. Tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and fires happened. Afghanistan happened. A lot of violence on our streets happened. Police convictions happened, especially for sexual predators who caused terrible things to happen to their victims. Just a lot of things happened even though we were six feet apart, masked, sanitized, quarantined and Zooming all day every day just to keep things happening. 

2021 is a year we’ll long remember despite what we’d like to forget ever happened. Most important, most of us made it through regardless of what was happening around us. 

The Washington Informer staff gathered more than a week ago for the second time this year. Earlier this year, in August, we held our annual staff cookout. We were thrilled to get together again outside of square boxes and share stories without reminding each other to unmute. Last week, we ended 2021, racing to do so just steps ahead of the omicron variant, to honor those we lost this year — staff reporter Dorothy Rowley and photographer Robert Ridley — to celebrate our achievements and plan what we will do for you — our readers — in 2022. 

We have a lot in store for our valued readers who follow us in print, digitally, attend our special gatherings, follow us on social media, subscribe, advertise and partner with us.

We were pleased to introduce our “Our House DC” series, focusing on “Keeping Homes Black-owned in Wards 7 and 8.” We’re thrilled to have nearly 300 subscribers added to the Our House bi-monthly newsletter that aims to tell the untold stories of Black people striving to manage, maintain or buy a home in one of the city’s last gentrifying areas east of the Anacostia River. 

One such story reached thousands, and we are proud to know the homeowner of the Northeast home held in the family for 100 years had their property taxes reduced because someone – the right someone – read our story. We plan to write more stories like this in 2022 and we want to see similar solutions achieved. 

Last week, we relaunched our website with a new look and feel. With any new digital product, it’s still a work in progress. We strive to make it user-friendly, engaging, interactive and fun. We want to make it a go-to site that is informative, educational and inspirational. We want to make the website a place for our readers to hang out for news and information they can trust. 

We invite you to visit www.washingtoninformer.com and give us your feedback. Your opinions and views are important to us. We want to hear more from you in 2022. 

We are excited to welcome new team members, mainly through Report for America. This national service program places emerging journalists into local newsrooms across the country to report on under-covered issues. Natalie Hockaday, a recent graduate from Old Dominion University, is our first RFA journalist. She has spent the past six months covering solutions to health disparities and food insecurity thanks, as well, to a Solutions Journalism grant.

We look forward to welcoming an additional writer in June who will cover environmental justice and the impact of climate change, especially on Black people living in the DMV. These opportunities were made possible in 2021 with grants and donations from our readers. We will seek ongoing support in 2022 to provide more opportunities for emerging journalists who want to work for the Black Press. 

There’s so much more we hope and plan to do in 2022. First and foremost is covering local news and there will be a lot to cover. We will focus our coverage on local, regional, state and national elections and the impact of Black voters. We will follow COVID’s path with all of its variants. We will report on the effects of the pandemic on Black-owned businesses and Black workers and job seekers in healthcare, education, food services, construction, transportation and the media, to name a few. We will collaborate with other media organizations, including Word In Black, to amplify these and other issues nationally and globally. 

We plan to better serve you in 2022. 

As Washington Informer’s founding publisher, Dr. Calvin W. Rolark Sr., often reminded us, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” It’s up to each one of us to make 2022 a better year, individually and collectively.

Happy New Year!

Denise Rolark Barnes

Denise Rolark Barnes is the publisher and second-generation owner of The Washington Informer, succeeding her father, the late Dr. Calvin W. Rolark, who founded the newspaper in 1964. The Washington...

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