Howard University Graduate Student interviews The People’s Voice
This week, Evelyn Robinson, a graduate student at Howard University in Washington, D.C. interviewed The People’s Voice about the National Newspaper Publisher’s Association, (The flagship association of Black newspaper publishers), in preparation for a presentation for her Black Press class at Howard University in Washington.Ms. Robinson’s interview appears here to illustrate the culturally rich learning opportunities many local black students miss by not choosing to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Few black students from our area are even aware of the existence of “The Black Press” or know of its history. Even fewer of the institutions in our area would dare entertain thoughts of incorporating such instruction into their curriculum.
Robinson: It was very interesting to learn that your publication was started by a Foundation, and not privately owned. How did that come to be?
T-P-V: “The Foundation was not organized around the newspaper. The Newspaper was an outgrowth of the Foundation. We wanted to establish a “grass roots” publication, community owned, community-driven and supported. We felt that if we could work this publication at the “grass roots” level, we would ultimately be able to grow it to the proportions we’d like to reach.”
Robinson: “My main question has to do with why The People’s Voice is not affliated with NNPA?”
T-P-V: “It has been an UP HILL JOURNEY, just trying to sell some of the black communities on the idea of a minority publication. Unfortunately, many blacks in the “rural South” never saw or heard of a black newspaper until we came on the scene. We’ve had to overcome internalized racism on the part of both whites as well as our own people. We have to teach our people the value of having such an organ in our area. And that takes time. Even though The People’s Voice is beginning to grow on the hearts and minds of black people, we still consider the publication to be in its infancy, having just passed our 3rd birthday.
Robinson: What is/are the reason(s) that the People’s Voice is not affliated with NNPA?
T-P-V: “The NNPA has strict requirements for participation and membership. As much as we’d like to join, the fees are prohibitive, but we’ve been working toward affiliating. The requirements include, weekly mailings of a year’s worth of complimentary copies of the publication to the Howard University Black Newspaper Archives, and the NNPA Foundation. We have met those requirements. But, we also have to be audited, and that’s expensive; at this point, we haven’t sufficiently monetized our publication to the point that we can afford the audit.
Another reason why we are not affiliated is because the process is long and drawn out. A publication almost has to earn the privilege of membership in NNPA. Another reason is that the players are not accessible. The NNPA Website is not kept updated, so, in three years, we haven’t even been able to contact the right people to help guide our publication through the membership process.”
Robinson: “Why do you want to get involved with NNPA?’
Answer: “Every black publication wants to affiliate with NNPA because it can validate our publication, and make it more competitive with other black newspapers. We can be part of the national black news network. We could also participate in the exchange of information of interest to a broader range of readers, and publish news articles written by all the journalists in the network. We could enjoy a share of the national advertising opportunities from major corporations who want to target a large segment of the African American market. This would give us a much broader readership base. NNPA negotiates multi-million dollar advertising campaigns with major corporations, and spreads that advertising around to all of its member publications. That’s why we want to affiliate.”
Robinson: “What suggestions would you like to make to improve the membership process?”
T-P-V: “They need to keep their website updated, and be more accessible to smaller publications who are not familiar enough to navigate the organization and its officers and agents. Maybe they need to look at lowering the standards for smaller and newer publications that want to join.”
Robinson: “My instructor is an officer of NNPA, and I’m going to be sure I let her know what you have said about NNPA. I want to thank The People’s Voice for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me about this very important subject. I wish your foundation much success with this great publication.”