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Iconic Chicago Defender Relaunches as Digital-Centric Content Platform


Bold step to end regular weekly print run positions brand to begin publishing daily content at chicagodefender.com

Real Times Media, parent company of the Chicago Defender today announced that effective July 11, 2019, the Chicago Defender will complete its evolution from a printed newspaper and relaunch as a digitally-focused content platform dedicated to online editorial, premiere events, custom publishing, and archival merchandising.

“It is no secret that the media and publishing landscape has shifted drastically and the pace of change continues at dizzying speeds, said Hiram E. Jackson, chief executive officer, Real Times Media. “That is why, over the past few years, we’ve made significant investments in digital media. Having experienced initially promising returns, we have concluded that we need to do more to continue building a business model for the future. It is simply time for the publication to break away from the printed page and put more focus on bringing our readers daily content from the African American perspective and increasing the impact of our community voice.”

The move to digital was additionally prompted by data showing that the vast majority of Chicago Defender readers already consume its content on digital platforms.

“We love creating a printed product. In fact, our newspapers in Detroit and Pittsburgh continue to perform well so we still believe in the power of print. But in Chicago, it is just no longer the best way to get our readers the stories they want,” said Jackson. “We understand that to some of our loyal readers, this rite of passage is a painful one. However, we are committed to preserving the legacy of the Chicago Defender and are excited to be making this bold step to ensure its vitality for the next 100 years. We remain committed to being an iconic news organization, but we must double-down in the areas where we are seeing growth. Ceasing print operations allows us to do that.”

Although the Chicago Defender will no longer print a weekly edition, the brand will continue to highlight pivotal moments via special print editions to create more capacity to actively engage with the community.  With this transition, the publication will retain its existing editorial and management staff and continue to offer its signature events Men of Excellence, Women of Excellence, and activities surrounding the Bud Billiken Parade.

Bolstering the Defender’s digital transition, Real Times Media has robust plans to continue digitization and licensing of the Chicago Defender archives via strategic partnerships that will generate significant revenue for the brand through 2029.

“There is so much opportunity for the Chicago Defender to grow nationally and become a premier player in the African American media space, adds Jackson. “However, we must continue to courageously evolve our focus to reflect the habits of our readers and our audience and stay focused on those vehicles that genuinely serve our client base. If we do not evolve dramatically, we will be left behind without a clear path for continued success.”

The Defender’s final weekly issue in print is scheduled to hit newsstands on July 10, 2019. The brand will begin publishing daily content related to issues most pressing to the African American community in Chicago on July 11 at www.chicagodefender.com.

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