Washington Informer Bridge, April 2016
Washington Informer Bridge, April 2016

The District’s premier newspaper for Black millennials celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Staff, friends and supporters of The Washington Informer Bridge celebrated the milestone on Thursday, April 28, at Mulebone in Northwest.

Editor in chief Sam P.K. Collins said the paper serves as a voice for the often overlooked group of Black millennials.

“It’s time we control the narrative,” Collins said. “What is a millennial, you have the young ones in high school and the older ones in their thirties, and we all have different experiences. We’re here to bridge that gap.”

The WI Bridge sprouted out of the Washington Informer’s longing to connect the young with the old.

“I am very proud of my godson, Ra-jah Kelly, and Lafayette Barnes. We gave faith to this idea to bridging communities, age groups, ideas and cultures together with this paper,” Denise Rolark Barnes, Washington Informer publisher, said.

“Sam had the opportunity to go to Miami for a National Newspaper Publishers Association conference and speak on a panel about the Bridge,” she said. “The other publishers loved the idea, and I predict we’re going to see Bridges in other cities.”

Collins claims the WI Bridge serves as a space for unapologetic Blackness and that “no other publication is doing that right now” in his opinion.

“Any good journalist who’s good at what they do is a student of the greats. I am a student of Ida B. Wells, Samuel Cornish, Dr. Calvin Rolark. They we’re all entrepreneurs and controlled the narrative,” he said.

Collins said what separates WI Bridge from the others is representation and visibility.

“The Bridge is a mirror for the community. They can look in the paper and see themselves in it. Friends, family and so on, when you pick it up, you’re going to see somebody you know,” he said.

Kelcey Abney, layout director, followed Collins to the Bridge from George Washington University, where they were classmates.

“Sam had a publication called the Ace at GW where I worked on the layout, so when I found out he had the Bridge, I came on,” he said. “The best part about what we do is seeing our work out in the street and in the community.”

“I’m thankful for a leader like Mrs. Barnes, who really gave us a space to figure it out. She trusted us as young people to create a good product,” he said.

While there have been many highs during WI Bridge’s journey so far, as with, most independent newspapers money is a major issue.

“Going forward, we are working on implementing a funding strategy,” Collins said. “We want to give it that grassroots feel. Back in the day, community members would donate to the Black publications, and that kept them alive.”

“We want the movers and shakers and everyday people to contribute financially to the Bridge, and the Bridge will return the favor to the community,” he said.

Barnes emphasized the importance of newspapers and why they must keep going.

“Some people say print is dying,” she said. There is still a lot of life left in print. We’re going to hold onto print for as long as we can.”

“When the computer crashes, the newspaper will be there for you.”

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