New York Beacon Publisher Dies

Walter Smith, Jr. (Photo provided to Amsterdam News)

Walter “Ball” Smith, publisher of the New York Beacon, suddenly passed away at the age of 83 in Miami on Nov. 10, reports Amsterdam News. He served as CEO of the African-American community newspaper, which he operated for 26 years. He also published the Philadelphia Observer.

According to the article, Smith purchased full control of the Beacon in 1981, then called Big Red News – the largest circulated African-American weekly at the time – before the name change in 1983.

“You have to say something to the readers,” he said. Adhering to the advice of this civil rights partisan, The New York Beacon reflects the voices of many editorialists as well as Smith’s weekly views. It concentrates on providing general news to the African-American community of New York City and its five boroughs —Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens. (…)

In 1991 Smith founded the Northeast Publishers Association, which brought together the city’s African-American newspapers under one umbrella “to better serve New York’s communities and to enhance the economics of its member papers.” He firmly believed in the ability of newspapers to preserve the community’s stories.

“One thing we can rest assured of is the news that we gather and the news that we present is just as relevant today as it was in the ’80s,” he said. “Black newspapers record Black history. That information is still in demand; we just have to deliver it to today’s social media society. We’re trying to keep abreast of the technology of delivering news.”

For more on the life of Walter Smith, go to Amsterdam News.

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