The decision was a tough one, but it would allow room for The Chicago Defender to adapt to a fast-changing and highly-challenging media environment.
After a century of reporting black-centric news, The Chicago Defender is ceasing its print editions. According to reports, the decision to stop printing physical copies of the paper was to keep the news organization up to par with the shift in the way content is consumed.
The Chicago Defender, one of America's most celebrated black newspapers, is ending print editions after 114 years. Its legacy is enormous. https://t.co/PADwwRy8Y1— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 9, 2019
Hiram E. Jackson, who is the chief executive officer of Real Times Media, the company that owns The Chicago Defender and other prominent black newspapers in the country, explained that the decision to end their printed newspaper was to assure the news organization's continuation. He explained to The New York Times that the move was a tough one, but it would allow room for The Chicago Defender to adapt to a fast-changing and highly-challenging media environment.
Mattie Smith Colin, reporter for the Chicago Defender, covered the return of Emmett Till's body in 1955. Images of Till’s body were printed in the paper and made international news. Colin made history by reporting the story that Till's mother wanted to be told #NABJBlackHistory pic.twitter.com/DbKgyxFeyl— Columbia Journalism School NABJ (@ColumbiaNABJ) February 2, 2018
"It is an economic decision," explained Jackson, "but it's more an effort to make sure that The Defender has another 100 years."
Oh my god. How awful. So much history .... we're being increasingly left with biased corporate papers such as the NY Times.— Anastasia Pantsios (@anastasjoy) July 9, 2019
But the end of the prominent black Chicago newspaper won't go unnoticed. The Chicago Defender was established in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott, primarily for a black audience. Through the years, The Chicago Defender established itself as the 'most important' source of black news. Relentlessly, the publication covered significant civil rights moments in Black American history.
President Harry Truman ordered desegregation of United States armed forces, 70 years ago tomorrow: pic.twitter.com/SlrZThtSiN— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) July 25, 2018
International news item making the front page of Chicago Defender– "A Paper That Goes Everywhere"– on May 18, 1929, although headline misstates a detail about an offscreen death during South African screening of a silent movie. pic.twitter.com/VwqSrNeQpr— Bill Stamets (@BillStamets) June 23, 2019
The most powerful impact of the newspaper was the impact it had on black migration. The Chicago Defender would veraciously talk about the economic success of the North, which was a catalyst for many black Americans to migrate from the South. The Chicago Defender would go on to deliver the hardest hitting news from the funeral of Emmett Till, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to the election of Barack Obama.
More importantly, The Chicago Defender would talk about everyday life for black Americans. The newspaper was a constant fixture in black homes and newspaper stands, and with the shift in media consumption, The Chicago Defender will hopefully continue on for the next 100 years in a digital form, still speaking proudly about African American culture.