The Atlanta Voice, the city’s sole remaining Black print newspaper turns 56-years-old May 11. During a year of a COVID-19 pandemic, cuts in local media coverage and newspaper closings all across the country, the paper’s ownership, leadership and staff have plans to commemorate the anniversary the only way they know how: with even more locally-focused journalism.
“Our stories are your stories so The Atlanta Voice needs to continue to be the voice echoed throughout our many platforms,” said Janis Ware, the paper’s publisher and the daughter of co-founder J. Lowell Ware who along with Ed Clayton began printing the publication in 1966.
This summer The Atlanta Voice will not only launch a new print redesign but have plans to also debut a website redesign.
Both moves are ways to acknowledge the level of journalism the publication has put forth decade after decade through the Civil Rights Movement up to today’s focus on police brutality and the unjust imprisonment of Black men and women throughout the country.
The work The Atlanta Voice does to inform the public is even more important today according to Ware. “I’m thrilled about the fact that we’re still being a voice for the voiceless, and continue to cover the news without fear or favor.”
In some ways the mission of the paper has not changed because the reasons the founders began the paper in the first place haven’t much either.
“Similar issues are being dealt with today,” said Ware who also mentioned voter suppression and racism as issues Black people remain entangled with in 2021.
Ware believes it’s even more important to reach readers and non-readers alike. “It is crucial to transform our news into the various [social media] platforms- Instagram (nearly 10K followers, Twitter and Facebook- and video in order to remain a relevant source for the community,” she said. “We are the chroniclers of our own history.”
There are also plans to reproduce archival photos and stories from the nearly six decades of coverage, including of the late Dr. Martin Luther KIng, Jr., who got some of his earliest positive local media attention from The Atlanta Voice.
A new website, new-look print paper, another year covering Black Atlanta and surrounding metro areas, The Atlanta Voice is here to stay. “This will be the spearhead of something new,” said Ware.
And by the looks of things, a still very necessary tool in informing the public.