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The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper Celebrates 120 Years

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The Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper, America’s 4th oldest Black newspaper and one of the Top 13 African-American newspapers in the nation, is celebrating 120 years of excellence in journalism.

What began in 1895 as a two-page church bulletin created by co-founders George P. Stewart and Will Porter, now hails as Indiana’s greatest weekly by consistently providing the community with up-to-date local and national news grounded in journalistic excellence.

Despite the overt systemic racism of the early years, intimidation directed at its journalists from the Ku Klux Klan, burglarizing of its offices, and the hard-hitting economic crisis, the Recorder has remained steadfast in upholding the mission statement on its masthead, “preparing a conscious community today and beyond.”

“It is an honor to be a part of this rich and unique legacy,” said Recorder President Shannon Williams. “As a journalist by trade, I am constantly inspired to tell the stories of those who are often underrepresented. As the old adage goes, the pen is mightier than the sword and in today’s media climate we need the Black press to use its voice and its influence to speak truth to power. This is what the Recorder has represented and will continue to embody.”

Williams, a graduate of Jackson State University, started her tenure at the Recorder as the marketing and circulation manager. Soon thereafter, she progressed through the ranks from assistant editor to editor; making her the youngest to hold such a title in the history of the company.  After only six years at the Recorder, the award-winning journalist was named vice-president. She assumed the role of president in 2010 at the age of 33.The talented businesswoman made history as the first African-American to serve on the Hoosier State Press Association and was featured in Ebony magazine as one of the country’s emerging leaders.

While industry reports show a steady decline in employment, revenue, and readership for newspapers across the country, the Recorder has consistently reinvented its approach. The paper has continued to attract and retain high-caliber talent as evidenced by the writing staff; a diverse mix of seasoned reporters and novices. The Recorder has also expanded its online reach digitally through the use of social media and video. In addition to its growing digital presence, the Recorder hosts events, such as health and wellness fairs and voter awareness forums, which directly address the growing needs of the community. 

Five years ago, under the direction of Williams, the Recorder Media Group (RMG) was formed. The RMG, which publishes the Recorder as well as the quarterly Indiana Minority Business Magazine, is a full-service public relations and marketing firm.

The award-winning publication was recently recognized at the Indiana State Legislature by the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus in a dual resolution, honoring the paper as well as its late Publisher; entrepreneur and philanthropist William “Bill” Mays, founder of the highly successful multi-million dollar Mays Chemical Company.

Over its history, the newspaper was a training ground for many journalists, including William Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post; Steve Hammer, a longtime columnist for independent Indianapolis weekly NUVO; and numerous writers and editors at the Indianapolis Star, including Eunice Trotter and Kim Hooper.

The Recorder is also one of the oldest institutions in the city of Indianapolis. The newspaper will culminate its yearlong celebration with a reception on October 15, 2015 at the Indiana State Museum, located in downtown Indianapolis. 

Event sponsors include: Cumulus Media IndianapolisFinancial Center Credit UnionJP Morgan ChaseNIPSCOOld National Bank, Purdue University, The Mind Trust

RSVP here on Eventbrite. 

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