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Hey! Have You Seen "The Chronicle" Lately
6/22/2016 1:42:26 PM

By Hakim Abdul-Ali 

“The Charleston Chronicle”, South Carolina's largest African-American newspaper, is a historical treasure that's been in business for over forty-four years and counting. It's always been there for "us" when no one else was.

That's an important thought to be aware of because, as an Afro-American printed newspaper (and now on the internet), this venerable news outlet is still alive and kicking. Hey! Have you seen or read it lately, whether it be in print or online?

If you have been a devoted follower of this eminent news organization founded and created by the celebrated eighty-nine-years old literary genius, Mr. James "Jim" French, Sr., you already know that this paper has been delivering the goods to the local, state and national African-American, Caribbean, African and all other ethnic communities of color with a concern for upholding the credo of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the nation's premier collective Black Press organization.

The Black Press' credo is "The Black Press believes that America can best lead the world from racial and national antagonism when it accords to every person, regardless of race, color or creed, full human and legal rights. Hating no person, the Black Press strives to help every person in the firm belief that all are hurt as long as anyone is held back."

With committed directness, unequal boldness and prideful determination, "The Chronicle", as Mr. French's locally and nationally honored newspaper is simply referred, is forever deliberately pushing on with renewed vigor and unprecedented zeal into this century with new leadership, but never losing its stated goal of printing the news from, about and for the neglected masses of society.

The new leadership is still in the French bloodline with Mr. French's grandsons, Tolbert "Tee" Smalls, Jr., and his brother, Damion J. Smalls, assuming roles of "The Chronicle" leadership in vital areas. Tolbert, better known as "Tee," is the publisher and his brother, Damion, is the new editor and the newspaper reflects their obvious refreshing inputs, having been selected by Mr. French in early March of this year.

They are the sons of Tolbert Smalls, Sr. and former Chronicle editor Nanette French Smalls. So, you see that the Chronicle business baton has been cultivated and passed on in the familial lineage. And they are well-deserving of their new positions.

These young brothers' concern and feel for the overall community, especially the Black community, is reflected in how they care about what their grandfather and mother has established in building its formidable infrastructure and putting and keeping "The Charleston Chronicle" together. "Tee" and Damion bring to the current paper's publication energetic dynamism, education and supreme technological skills that continues to make "The Chronicle" one of this country's must read African-American weekly news publications.

Hey! Have you read "The Chronicle" lately?" If not, why not? That question has to be raised because if you don't read this essential news organ and other ethnic newspapers and magazines like it, then how will you "really, really" know what's truthfully going on in the Afro-American and the other national ethnic minority communities? Do you know what I'm referring to or talking about?

In so many ways, the new eye popping and dynamically laid-out "Chronicle" format gives its current readers so much more in a nutshell that makes reading necessary, easy, comprehensive and informative.

If the national Black Press of America is to remain relevant, vibrant and purposeful as an informative news worthy source, then it will have to meet and contend with the challenges of the 21st century information demands.

The "new" editions of "The Charleston Chronicle" that hits the newsstands and is on the internet every Wednesday delivers and meets those challenges weekly with an astonishing readable freshness telling our successes, struggles and hopes while displaying and showing a unique printing character that's all its own. A lot of that credit has to be given to the Smalls brothers, the staff and, of course, to the emeritus boss himself, Mr. French, who is still on the scene offering his indispensable input and critical guidance where needed from time-to-time.

Mr. Tolbert Smalls, Jr., in an interview with me last week related that he saw as publisher the future of this publication expanding (also) beyond print media to become the number one source of African-American and minority news in South Carolina.

He said poignantly, "The challenge of print journalism in the digital age will force us to make necessary adjustments to stay relevant in this industry to gain a competitive advantage amongst our peers. We are currently developing the business model to implement strategies that will give us the best opportunity to survive."

Editor Damion Smalls is an acknowledged technological wonder who has helped transform "The Chronicle" into a unique one-of-a -kind internet presentation. He told me that Black media entities have to pay close attention to the ever-evolving digital age that we're living in. He added that readership hasn't dwindled, but long-standing forms of news has lost some of its luster.

The editor further said, "The internet has changed the speed that people have come to expect to consume news stories and social media has sped the pace up drastically. That, along with smartphones, tablets and apps have shifted the market from physical to digital.”

"Curating websites to be more mobile friendly, providing more relevant and timely content on social media pages, using genderly/economically diverse creative teams to promote content and combining print media and its web presence are the four key components to the future success of Black publications such as "The Chronicle," Damion explains.

Mr."Jim" French started something back in 1971 and his dramatic journalistic steadfastness in telling the news from a resoundingly truthful and erudite perspective for the minority communities is still going strong under the aegis of his grandsons' management. And with continued assistance and loyal support of "The Chronicle's" cultivated legion of respected and dedicated reporters, columnists and writers, "The Chronicle" is prepped to succeed even more than it has the past four decades.

"The Charleston Chronicle" is an "our-storical" jewel in the world of weekly African-American journalism. It was started a long time ago, but its still pertinent and germane. The news about oppressed folks' suffering must be covered and told with fairness.

That's why "The Charleston Chronicle" is so important. Hey! Have you seen or read it lately? It's still new and awesomely reporting that "All Lives Matter" including the ones in the African-American and other ethnic minority community. For today and always, that's, "As I See It."


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