The Atlanta Voice newspaper was founded by J. Lowell Ware in 1966 with a defined vision and mission which has been the publications' motto and driving force ever since "A People Without A Voice Cannot Be Heard."
The venerable, award-winning publication was born out of the refusal of the white-owned majority Atlanta media to give fair and credible coverage to the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. It was effectively and uniquely spearheaded by the legendary, and politically powerful, J. Lowell Ware, who when he died at age 63, had been responsible for publishing seven newspapers throughout the state of Georgia.
The paper was started out of the Movement, reports his daughter and current Atlanta Voice Publisher, Janis Ware, a dynamic and charismatic housing expert, business woman and community activist, who assumed the role and responsibility for fulfilling her father's vision.
Janis Ware is a University of Georgia Business School graduate whose career has been steadfast in completing her father's life long interest in publishing and community development. She has fulfilled her father's vision by continuing the tradition of the Atlanta Voice as the unchallenged leader; the foremost provider of news and pertinent information to Atlanta's African American community. The Atlanta Voice is committed to providing substance and credibility in the community.
The fact is black papers probably have more of a need today than ever before,Ms. Ware said. If you start looking at the issues that we are dealing with, we're not being recognized. There is the same discrimination taking place; it's just being done differently. There is another divide taking place today. It is a digital divide. Most of us (African-Americans) don't even have a computer, or know how to do research on this World Wide Web. So, our people are going to be left behind again. If we don't continue to tell the story about how the issues are going to affect our community, we will never know why or what is really happening. We must continue to educate our people."
For years, Janis Ware worked alongside her famous father in the publishing business (The Atlanta Voice owns the only black-owned print press operation in the Southeast) learning his style, understanding his dedication to excellence, and receiving inspiration from his passion for his people. His legacy has become her mission. She continues in the spirit of the high journalistic standards and commitment to the community passed on to her by her esteemed father.
We're really trying to serve the masses of our people, Ware explains. We're not segmenting our market. We are really trying to spread our distribution throughout the Atlanta, Fulton, DeKalb, and Cobb county black communities. We're trying to provide a journalistic service to a wide array of peopleâ€”sometimes to our detriment, but in keeping with my father's beliefs. My fathers vision was to service the entire African American Community, regardless of age, income or socioeconomic status. We are the majority media for our community. â€œWe want to service everyone who enjoys reading the paper.
Janis combines her training in the publishing business and her father's tradition of unyielding commitment to uncompromising quality. Janis Ware is the Executive Director of SUMMECH Community Development Corporation, and the former board president of the Atlanta Housing Authority.SUMMECH Community Development Corporation, which was actually the brainchild of Ware's father, was formally established in 1989.
When my father died in 1991, I decided to commit myself to his dream of building affordable housing for the Mechanicsville community, she said. â€œI am doing what he envisioned and conceived. He laid out a roadmap as to how it should be done, and I am simply following his footsteps and finishing his plan. We had a lot of adversity, but I decided it was either going to be my father's commitment or something I was going to fulfill.
While she is an accomplished businesswoman, Ware believes, as her father did, that â€œA People Without A Voice Cannot Be Heard. Her mission as a new-age publisher remains to improve African Americans, to speak to and for that community, and to report the news as fairly and as accurately as we can.
As a publisher, I'm saying We need to understand that there is another side to those stories that are routinely produced, published, and presented. We need to let our readers know how positively or negatively these stories affect their lives. The one thing we need to concentrate more on is finances, and telling our readers how to make it in this economic climate. Check cashing services, for example, are taking as much as 20 percent out of the checks of folks who can least afford it. That's a monetary divide between the have's and the have-not's.
The Atlanta Voice has a unique history. It is a weekly, well-written publication that has been the undisputed leader in news reporting for the Atlanta African American community for the past 35 years.
We've served a market that desperately needed to be serviced, and those readers do have dollars, and they are willing to spend them Ware said. But they need to be invited into your business establishment; they need to recognize and appreciate the products that you do have; and realize that your business is also supporting the black community. The conventional theory is that black folk don't and won't readâ€”particularly black weekly publications. People who ride MARTA, for example, will read the paper and even pass it on. They will comment and react to the issues and stories we report. You put advertisements in the paper and people will respond. So, people are reading The Atlanta Voice newspaper. That's why small business enterprises and corporate America alike read this premier paper, said Ware.