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Atlanta Daily World Localizes Global Black News

Longest-running black newspaper in city covers everyday triumphs and trials, participates in community

New America Media, Profile, Mandy Oaklander Posted: Aug 22, 2007

When a case is closed for 25 years, it usually stays that way. But one newspaper changed all that. It interviewed Wayne Williams--the black Atlanta man convicted of killing two men and on whom 22 child murders were controversially pinned--and sparked so much public interest that the evidence from the closed 1980s cases underwent inspection again. This DNA evidence was tested last June, and the inconclusive results cast doubt on the validity of Williams' charge as a serial killer. Now, some jurisdictions are wondering if they should reopen the 30 closed cases assumed to have been the dark work of Williams.

This evidence testing in one of the nation's biggest unsolved mysteries wasn't spearheaded by the mainstream press, but by a family-owned newspaper: the Atlanta Daily World.
alexis scottPublisher Alexis ScottFor the Scotts, the paper is a 79-year-old family tradition. It's no typical family venture; the Atlanta Daily World is now the citys oldest black newspaper thats still publishing and was one of the first black-owned businesses in the country. Covering the everyday triumphs and trials of black society, the paper has reached far beyond the family to unite the black community.

The brainchild of William A. Scott II, the newspaper began in 1928 to give a voice to the Southern black community. The original mission, according to the founders granddaughter M. Alexis Scott, was to inform, inspire, educate and entertain the readers. Since then, much has changed: the paper costs 50 cents, it is now printed in color, and is no longer a "daily," as it is now only published once a week. But the original mission, Scott assures, prevails today.

For the last decade, Alexis Scott has served as publisher. Growing up in a family invested in journalism, Scott spent much of her childhood around the newsroom. It was just part of my life: both my parents worked at the paper. It became my comfort zone, Scott said. When it came time to choose a profession, Scott stayed true to her journalistic roots but also sought a change. I felt compelled and challenged to break down some barriers and went to the mainstream press, Scott said. Her decision to influence the course of journalism ultimately led back to the Atlanta Daily World. Now 58 years old, Scott continues to focus on black issues often ignored by the white press.

The papers 10,000 readersa sort of extended familymainly live in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The 12-14 page newspaper caters to a wide array of African-American Atlanta residents; while many readers are college-educated professionals, 54 percent own a home. We try to cover a broad range of subjects and issues that are important primarily to the whole black community, Scott said.

One issue important to the newspaper is voting. In the 2001 city election, the Atlanta Daily World was the only black publication to endorse Shirley Franklin as she ran to become the mayor of Atlanta. With the paper's support and their immense coverage of her as the best candidate for the job, Franklin won. She now serves as the first female and first black mayor of Atlanta.

From being a media sponsor for the National Black Arts Festival to hosting Bike Atlanta, a 13-mile ride benefiting non-profits, the focus on community service sets the Atlanta Daily World apart as both a newsmaker and benefactor. In June, Scott traveled to Ghana to report on a Delta Air Lines and Habitat for Humanity joint project. The co-sponsorship team built eight houses, and Delta Air Lines left $100,000 behind to build a total of 40 houses.

The Atlanta Daily World reports on black issues globally, but relays them locally to its Atlanta hometown audience. Concluded Scott, Our goal is to uplift the entire black community.

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