LA Times blogger Andrew Malcolm started a web freakout this morning when he suggested that the White House was blocking press access to a ceremony with the National Newspaper Publisher's Association today. In fact, part of the ceremony was an exclusive interview which naturally, the NNPA didn't want other reporters to have access to.

Lost in the hubbub is the fact that the NNPA is an association of a formerly thriving breed, the black community newspaper. Obviously the decline of the newspaper has hurt even very successful publications, but these newspapers, which report in great detail on issues and events that often get overlooked by larger publications, have been hurting for a long time. The black newspaper in America has a long, often heroic history: when white papers ignored crimes of lynching and brutality against black folks in the South, black newspapers published stories about them.

The NNPA itself has only been around for about 70 years, but it's the last of its kind. The fact that the president is giving the NNPA an exclusive interview is both a recognition of the perilous status of the black community newspaper and its illustrious history. Currently, the NNPA offices are located at Howard University, where in addition to publishing pieces from member papers, they train journalism students there in the craft of reporting.

You'd think, given the state of the press these days, that this would be something worth writing about. But like the stories that the NNPA member papers themselves cover, this one isn't worth the big boys' time. 

-- A. Serwer

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