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Oral history interview with Whittier Alexander Sengstacke [electronic resource], 1971.

Creator: Sengstacke, Whittier Alexander
Project: Black Journalists Oral History Collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :sound files : digital preservation master, WAV files (96kHz, 24 bit) Transcript: 40 pages
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Whittier Alexander Sengstacke (1916-1996) was a newspaper executive and activist. Whittier was the nephew of Robert Sengstacke. He attended Georgia State College (since 1950, Savannah State College, which has since become a university), graduating in 1935. At Georgia State College Sengstacke, majored in business. Sengstacke began his career at the Chicago Defender, where he started as a paper hauler and eventually became vice president. Later he moved to the Memphis Based Tri-State Defender, where he was eventually named general manager.

Scope and Contents

In this 1971 interview with Henry La Brie III, Whittier Alexander Sengstacke (1916-1996) discusses his views on the black press from the vantage point of his work at the Tri-State Defender. The issues he covers include what readers want, the importance of the Negro press, and the need for nationally distributed black newspapers. Sengstacke shares his views on sensationalism in the black press and its effect on advertising revenue, the challenges weekly newspapers face in reporting news after its been previously reported in the dailies, and the need for a black news service. He also shares his views on the effects of the Kerner Commission, unionization's effects on the black press, and the importance of the black press being owned and operated by African Americans. Sengstacke shares his views on measures of success, the need for the community to see themselves represented in and reported on in local papers, his focus on the look and contents of the Tri-State Defender, and its sources of revenue. Finally, Sengstacke provides insights on the role of the radio station WDIA in radio programing marketed towards the black community.


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