The Defender took home top honors at the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the Black Press of America trade association, 2022 convention in New Orleans.
With three first place awards, four second place, and two third place awards, the Defender led the pack among the 286 entries in the NNPA Fund Messenger Awards, which included the presentation of scholarships to underserved students.. Honors were given to the Defender for Website and Newsletter Excellence, Original Advertising, Layout and Design, Educational story, Video Campaign, Environmental story, Faith and Religion and Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle.
“We are ecstatic to be recognized by our peers for our hard work and commitment to delivering news to the Black community,” said publisher Sonny Messiah Jiles. “We have a top notch team and are constantly on a learning journey to improve our product and service to our readers. This honor is a culmination of our efforts.”
During the convention Black Press publishers from across the country, along with their staff members, tackled an array of issues.
Mark Thompson, the decorated journalist and host of the podcast “Make It Plain,” moderated one panel on, “Amplifying Voices of Generation Z and Millennials Through the Black Press of America.”
The panel discussed how young African Americans view the importance of the Black Press’s future, emphasizing the need for publishers to enhance their digital presence on platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram.
Erica Myles, the senior consultant and senior vice president of Diverse Segments, Representation, and Inclusion for Wells Fargo, discussed the topic, “Relationships and Resources: Tools to Move Black-owned Small Businesses from Surviving to Thriving.”
A General Motors contingent spoke with NNPA President, and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. about “The Path to Inclusion is Electric: How GM is Building an All-Inclusive Workforce to Build an All-Electric Future.”
Representatives from GM and Wells Fargo also sat for a live interview on the NNPA’s national news program, “Let It Be Known,” along with Defender Associate Editor Aswad Walker.
Munson Steed, the Rolling Out National Publications publisher, presented the topic: RIDE (Rolling Out Innovation Digital Entertainment) Lab for NNPA Publishers.
“I want NNPA Publishers to think digital,” Steed exhorted as he led a discussion, “Steps to lead to making money; criteria for hiring the right people, OTT (Over the Top), changing the mindset to become a media mogul.”
Transformative Justice Coalition Founder Barbara Arnwine and board member Daryl Jones joined Dr. Chavis and members of the NNPA board to announce a “votercade” aimed at registering 10 million new African American voters. Arnwine told a captivated panel that their organization had recorded 72 voter suppression tactics to prevent a large population from casting ballots.
Dr. David Childs, a professor of Black Studies, Education, and History at Northern Kentucky University, led a discussion on the “Black Press and the Antidote to Racism in America” with the Defender’s ReShonda Tate and Aswad Walker.
Friday night, Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry received the NNPA 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award, while Rep. Maxine Waters and entertainer Stephanie Mills took home Legacy Awards at the gala. Singer Stephanie Mills, who first gained fame as “Dorothy” in the Broadway hit “The Wiz,” performed some of her most iconic hits, including “Home” and “I Never Knew Love Like This Before.”
The weekend culminated with a boat ride on Saturday. Many in attendance agreed the conference proved among the best in the NNPA’s 82-year history.