Chicago Defender Honors Young Leaders

Media rankings come a dime a dozen.

(“30 under 30”, “40 under 40”, or “12 to watch in ’12”)

And every news organization–just like every human being– has a different opinion about “Who’s Who.”

But I really applaud what Chicago Defender managing editor Kathy Chaney has done with the paper’s first ever “40 under 40” list.


It is a great marketing tool to use for targeting those unfamiliar with the paper or its brand. And the Chicago Defender has a very historic reputation in the city for being our longest-running news organization dedicated to African-American causes. But there is a need to appeal to the younger generation.

Some of the honorees are household names [Derrick Rose, Matt Forte, and Rhymefest] while others are more known to particular audiences [Brian Sleet, Deanna McLeary, and Lenny McAllister].

Overall, the list shows that the newspaper is moving in a positive direction.

But a thousand mile journey begins with ONE step.

If news organizations want to appeal to a younger audience, there must be a plan of action in place. You can’t just randomly present celebrities to them. Instead, there needs to be a coordination and correlation between the editorial calendar and the marketing plan.

The best way to do that is follow a strategy rooted in search engine optimization and community affairs. You have to keep your “ear to the street” to know what young people are talking about and present timely content. If they watch the BET Awards every June, then there needs to be coverage about awards nominees as well as reporters attending festivals to promote the paper’s coverage.

No one is going to view content that they don’t know about.

Word of mouth is the best kind of promotion. In fact, that’s how I heard about this “40 under 40” list. My Facebook friends happened to be some of the honorees.

In my book, The Chicago Defender has made a list of its own: One of the few surviving media outlets.

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