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Oral history interview with Al Sweeny, 1972.

Creator: Sweeny, Al
Project: Black Journalists Oral History Collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 38 pages Sound recording: 1 sound cassette
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Al Sweeny was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1918. He attended Wilberforce University and did graduate work in economics at Case Western Reserve University. He began his career as a journalist doing freelance work for the Call & Post and Cleveland Herald. Later, he covered a variety of stories for the Washington Afro-American, where he covered the civil rights movement as it unfolded.

Scope and Contents

Henry La Brie's 1972 interview with Al Sweeny begins with an overview of the latter's education and journalistic experience, including his coverage of historic events related to desegregation and the civil rights movement as a reporter. Sweeny discusses his role in city government and politics. La Brie asks Sweeny what stories make news and about the future prospects for the black press and the relationship between the white and black press. They discuss the specific accomplishments of the black press, advertising and circulation as its sources of revenue, and the black press's role in politics. The conversation turns to the prospect of a black national news service, the sensationalism of the black newspapers, and which section of a black newspaper is most important. Sweeny discusses the specific techniques in crafting a newspaper to make it more appealing to readers. La Brie asks if black readers trust white papers, if in Sweeny's view the number of black dailies will increase, and Sweeny's first encounters with the black press.


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