Oral history interview with John E. Rousseau, Jr., 1971.
John E. Rousseau, Jr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 22, 1909. He attended public schools until going to Xavier Preparatory School, now St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School, and studied at Xavier University in New Orleans. Rousseau became a post office clerk in 1928 and founded the National Alliance of Postal Employees' first paper, The Postscript, in 1937. In 1940 he founded the New Orleans Sentinel and for financial reasons sold it to Carter Wesley in 1942. Rousseau stayed on as a general reporter and later city editor until 1948. That year, he started reporting for the Pittsburgh Courier's Louisiana edition, became manager in 1952 until leaving to report and edit for the Louisiana Weekly in 1961. Rousseau was recognized by the National Publishers Association and won two awards in 1968 and 1970 for editorial writing.
Scope and Contents
In this interview conducted by Henry G. LaBrie III, John E. Rousseau, Jr. discusses his experiences as a reporter for several black newspapers in New Orleans. He is first asked about the differences between the black press in the North and in the South and describes obstacles and dangers in news gathering. Rousseau then talks about why he became concerned with journalism, what ownership and reporting criteria make a newspaper a black newspaper, what makes the news, and the role of the black press in black communities. He further discusses sensationalism in the black press relative to circulation, how the black press has changed and its future, if the black press is an important area of study, and whether the white establishment press has changed in its reporting on minority news since the Kerner Commission Report in 1968.