The Chicago Defender moves to a digital-only publishing model

July 18, 2019

The Chicago Defender, a 114-year-old, weekly newspaper devoted to news and information about African Americans in the Chicago area, announced publication of its final print edition on Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

“This is not a sad day, it’s an exciting times,” Hiram E. Jackson, chief executive officer of Real Times Media said as reported by Black Press USA. “We have several hundred thousand people reading on our website and we have more than 200,000 Facebook followers, so when you compare that to printing 20,000 newspapers once a week, there’s no comparison,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s about impact and influence. Influencing the community; influencing the politicians and the business people – and you can’t do that with less than 20,000 readers a week and now we’ll publish every day. When you take a city like Chicago where Black people are everywhere, with the printed version we couldn’t reach everyone,” Jackson told Black Press USA.

The Chicago Defender was founded in 1905 by Robert Sengstacke Abbott, a lawyer. He founded the newspaper to fight segregation, lynching and racism. Despite beginning the publication from the kitchen of his house with virtually no capital, aggressive marketing, especially to the growing number of African Americans moving north as part of The Great Migration led to rapid growth in circulation which by 1917 had grown to 230,000.

The newspaper sought to be the voice of the African American community, fighting for Black rights, helping steer new arrivals to job opportunities and adjusting from rural to urban life. The Chicago Defender also played a significant role in the development of African American literature. Most notably, author Langston Hughes had a regular column for a number of years.

Jackson said the Chicago Defender will continue to be a news and information outlet for African Americans. Moving from a weekly print format to a daily digital format will increase the impact of our community voice, he said.

Despite the transition, Jackson said the publication will retain its existing editorial and management staff. Real Times Media, the parent organization, said offering daily news will enable the Chicago Defender to offer more national news articles and expand its digital archives.

Read More About: