For well more than a century the black press has played an integral role in the political and cultural growth of the United States. It was among the first ethnic presses in America. From the abolitionist era through the civil rights movement and to today, it has called attention to issues the mainstream media has ignored. It survives today in part through the National Newspaper Publishers Association, or NNPA, a federation of more than 200 periodicals aimed at African Americans around the country.
While African Americans are very likely to read mainstream publications – they are the second-largest group of mainstream daily newspaper readers behind whites – they nonetheless have a vibrant “ethnic” press at their disposal. And many African Americans do read these papers, publications such as The Amsterdam News in New York, The Philadelphia New Observer, The Michigan Citizen in Detroit. The NNPA estimates its members have a total of 15 million readers with $572 billion in annual buying power.1 And the black press is increasing its online presence as well. From 2001 to 2003, the number of black newspapers with an online presence grew from 40 to more than 90.2