‘Chicago Defender,’ Long a Web Holdout, to Launch a Podcast

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

The Chicago Defender, which was perhaps the last daily newspaper in America to launch a Web site, will take a big technological leap forward Thursday by launching a podcast.

Defender Executive Editor Roland S. Martin said the Chicago Defender Inside Black America Podcast is the first by a black-oriented newspaper, part of an effort to make the paper “the leading news and information source for African Americans in Chicago.”

The podcast is also its latest effort to confront a demographic fact of life for the Defender and other black newspapers: Its audience skews old.

“We believe that the [podcast] will appeal to a younger demographic who are avid Internet users, as well as broaden the content that is used in the Defender,” Martin said, noting that the paper last month launched two monthly magazines — “The Temple” and “all that” — that are also directed to younger African Americans.

The podcast launch symbolizes the fast pace of change at the Defender, a venerable paper that turned 100 two weeks ago and had been regarded as a journalistic and marketing afterthought for at least two decades when it was bought in 2003. The pace of change accelerated with the arrival last summer of Martin. Even so, the Defender only launched its Web site last December.

Clarence Nixon, president and CEO of Real Times Inc., the parent company of the Chicago Defender, said the podcast will drive users to its ChicagoDefender.com site.

“Since the launch of our website in December, we have been growing our online presence,” Nixon said in a statement. “This new feature will be of tremendous value to users, but also to advertisers who seek to reach the African American consumer.”

Every Thursday, the podcast will feature interviews by Defender staffers of newsmakers, authors, and others, the paper said. It is also developing podcasts themed to the year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary.

This Thursday’s first podcast will feature Robin Stone, the former executive editor of Essence Magazine and author of “No Secrets, No Lies: How Black Families can heal from Sexual Abuse.”

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