Newsman steers African paper through recession

Milton Allimadi founder of Black Star News

Milton Allimadi, founder of Black Star News.

“Advertisers tell you from the get-go, come back in five years.”

That’s what African journalist and entrepreneur Milton Allimadi said advertisers told him when he founded Black Star News.

In an interview with Ugandans Abroad, Allimadi discussed the trials of starting a newspaper for Africans in New York City.

His paper, Black Star News, covers New York news from an African perspective, while keeping an eye on developments in Uganda. His startup got its first major boost from an investment by Bill and Camille Cosby. He got his first corporate ad from Independent Savings Bank, which previously advertised in the City Sun where Allimadi worked.

He told Ugandans Abroad that getting that first major ad was a huge boon. “’You get them, and you want to show that to every other advertiser,” said Allimadi. To come up with advertising rates, he looked at rates for established media like the Amsterdam News and discounted them. Back then one of his main challenges was managing time.

“I tried to make the calls as much as possible to sell ads, and do the writing and editing at night, ” he said. Now, he has staff members that sell ads full-time, freeing him to focus on journalism.

Allimadi also talked about how the recession took its toll on the paper. To survive, the weekly reduced its page count and cut their paper size, and cut the frequency that they came out for a few months, combining some of their issues to make ends meet. He says he still sees tremendous potential in media that targets African American and immigrant markets. “The demand is here,” he said. “Just create the medium.”

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