Washington Informer Earns Four NNPA Awards

Stacy M. Brown | 7/9/2014, 3 p.m.
When Dr. Calvin W. Rolark Sr. insisted on the slogan, “Award-winning newspaper,” his daughter, Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes, ...
Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes received a first place Merit Award for Best Layout and Design from Mississippi Link Publisher Jackie Hampton during the National Newspaper Publishers Association 74th Annual Conference held June 25-28 in Portland, Oregon. The Washington Informer was also honored for its 2013 Special Edition honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as first place for Best Use of Photos and third place for Best News Pictures. (Courtesy of NNPA)

When Dr. Calvin W. Rolark Sr. insisted on the slogan, “Award-winning newspaper,” his daughter, Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes, had just one desire.

“We have got to live up to it,” she said.

So, when the newspaper earned four National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) awards during the organization’s annual convention last month in Portland, Oregon, Rolark Barnes thought about her late and dear dad.

“I feel that my father would be proud of the work that we’re doing,” she said.

The newspaper, which celebrates its Golden Anniversary this year, earned first place in the categories of Best Layout and Design by a tabloid and Best Use of Photographs by a tabloid.

The Informer also earned third place honors in the categories of Best Special Edition and Best News Pictures.

“It is always rewarding to be recognized for the work that we do, and for the awards to come from NNPA that really does mean a great deal to us,” said Ron Burke, the director of advertising and marketing for the Informer.

Rolark Barnes said it’s very satisfying that the newspaper earned the awards while celebrating its 50th anniversary and the fact that the Informer won recognition from its industry peers at the NNPA make the honors even sweeter.

“We’re really proud. I’m proud of the awards and it means a lot that others recognize the kind of hard work that the Washington Informer team puts into producing a quality publication,” she said. “It confirms that hard work and then to be recognized by your peers is a special honor.”

Cloves C. Campbell, NNPA’s chairman and the publisher of the Arizona Informant, said the Informer and others who earned an award should be proud.

“As usual, the competition was extremely fierce this year and we congratulate all of the winners,” Campbell said.

Formed in 1940, the NNPA comprises more than 200 African-American newspapers. About two decades ago, the organization established the NNPA Foundation which traditionally focuses on pre-professional training and encouraging excellence in the newspaper industry.

Jonathan Dolphin, an avid and longtime reader of the Informer and the famed Amsterdam News in New York, said he started reading the Washington Informer about 18 months ago and discovered that the paper not only performs a great service locally, but he also enjoys its national coverage.

“I drive all of the time. I’m on the road, and on Thursdays, even when I’m in my truck, I’ll take a moment to scroll through my phone and find out what’s in the Informer,” said Dolphin, 51. “The paper has become important to me because there are things about the federal government that we as black people need to know about and we are not going to get [the information] as honestly as the Informer and other black papers are going to give [the information] to us.”

During the awards ceremony, former San Francisco mayor and Democratic powerbroker Willie Brown received the NNPA’s Legacy Award for distinguished public service.

Brown reportedly called the role of the black press in local communities, “unparalleled.”