Reference Entry

Associated Negro Press.

Todd Steven Burroughs

in Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-first Century

Published in print January 2009 | ISBN: 9780195167795
Associated Negro Press.

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The most prominent black print news service of the first half of the twentieth century, the Associated Negro Press (ANP) was created by Claude Barnett, a former advertisement representative for the Chicago Defender. The ANP served the nation's black weekly newspapers, providing news briefs, feature articles, and opinion pieces. Barnett founded the Associated Negro Press in Chicago in 1919. It became the most prominent national wire service for black newspapers until the National Newspaper Publishers Association established its wire service in 1944. The ANP lasted until the late 1960s.After a stint in the Chicago post office—which included a part-time job selling photographic portraits of black people—Barnett joined the Defender. He traveled the country for the Defender in 1918 to get news and advertising representatives, talking to many black newspaper editors. Barnett resigned from the Defender and started his own agency, the Associated Negro Press, in 1919. The vast majority of his clients were black weekly newspapers. Barnett charged newspapers different prices according to their sizes and the grades of news. In turn, newspapers were supposed to provide news from their regions. The ANP also supplied news to businesses, individuals, and schools.Barnett recruited a legion of volunteer journalists and part-time (and, later, full-time) reporters and correspondents in various cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Columbia, South Carolina, and seven other cities. He also had correspondents in Nigeria, Ghana, Haiti, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Jamaica, London, Tokyo, and Moscow. Journalists who later went on to significant careers in the black press, like Enoch Waters at the Chicago Defender and Roy Wilkins, a young managing editor at the Kansas City Call, got their start at the ANP.During its tenure, the ANP—which established offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.—had a succession of editors, including Nahum Daniel Brascher, Percival L. Prattis, Frank Marshall Davis, and Charlene Harston. Its Washington correspondents included Alvin E. White, Ernest Johnson, and Alice A. Dunnigan, who became the first black female accredited correspondent to cover Congress.A variety of news and information sources served the growing black press in the 1920s and 1930s. Barnett was so successful that at least forty-eight competitors attempted to copy his methods between 1919 and 1949. The press offices of the NAACP and the Tuskegee Institute served as fonts of information for the black press. These offices kept up weekly information about desegregation court cases and lynchings.In 1928 the ANP interviewed Oscar De Priest, the first African American to win a congressional seat in the twentieth century, after his victory. Barnett often used his contacts to get ANP interviews with prominent elected officials, including John Nance Garner, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's vice president from 1933 to 1941, in the late 1930s.In the 1930s Barnett employed writers who were specialists in their beats: education, radio, music, and sports, among other topics. Its columnists that decade included Kelly Miller, dean of arts and sciences of Howard University; the Harlem writer Langston Hughes; and Mary Church Terrell, founding president of the National Association of Colored Women. Between 1935 and 1937 the ANP got $2,500 in grants from the Rosenwald Fund. Barnett used part of the money to set up a salary for a regular Washington correspondent. One of the ANP's regular contributors was John Spivak, a white reporter who covered the Scottsboro Boys case, the internationally known frame-up of nine black youths accused of raping two white women.The ANP peaked in 1935 with 235 clients, but it had limited influence in terms of journalism, civil rights, politics, economics, and social policy. The real editorial power was held by local newspapers. The publishers of those newspapers—led by the Pittsburgh Courier, the Defender, and the Baltimore Afro-American, all three of which had national editions by the 1930s—had limited interest in or commitment to the ANP. In 1940 African American newspapers came together in Chicago to form the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a national trade organization for black newspapers, thus creating a national news service of their own. By 1945 the NNPA News Service had an office in Washington, D.C.The growth of the NNPA News Service, the explosion of black magazines such as Ebony and Jet, the start of the modern civil rights movement, and Barnett's desire to expand to Africa all contributed to the demise of the ANP. The ANP had only thirty-seven clients in 1958. In 1960 Barnett formed the World News Service to serve newspapers in Africa. Barnett sent the world service news by airmail from Chicago. When Barnett retired, selling the ANP in 1964, its client list totaled seventy-five black newspapers, two radio stations, two magazines, two hundred African newspapers, and other nonmedia institutions.The ANP was sold to Alfred Duckett, a New York City public relations executive. It moved to New York, but it had faded by 1970. Many black entrepreneurs, journalists, and activists tried to create a news service serving black print, but only the NNPA News Service lasted, and by the early 1990s, even it existed only as a press release and columnist service.

Reference Entry.  979 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History

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