Data News Weekly Celebrates Its 51st Anniversary

Last year the New Orleans Data News Weekly celebrated its Golden Anniversary as the People’s Paper providing news that empowers, inform and inspires a community. This year the paper turns 51 and has come a long way since Joseph “Scoop” Jones, who was among the few Black World War 2 Correspondents created it in 1966, focusing on entertainment and giving a voice to the African-American Community in New Orleans. Today, Data News Weekly has expanded under the leadership of “Scoop’s” son Terry Jones, who’s led Data News into becoming a Leading Community Newspaper in New Orleans and nationwide as one of the premiere African-American Newspapers in the country. We took this opportunity to talk to Publisher Terry Jones about the history of the paper, his vision and its connection and commitment to the community.
A Brief History of Data News Weekly
Terry Jones is a second-generation Publisher of the New Orleans Data News Weekly Newspaper. His father Joseph “Scoop” Jones began publishing in 1966 as mainly an entertainment vehicle for the thriving nightlife scene in Black New Orleans. The younger Jones laughs when reminiscing of how he first began working with the fledgling publication. “My father started the paper and it was the first or second issue, at the time he was connected with a lot of people in the entertainment business and I interviewed and wrote a cover story on the Godfather of Soul James Brown because he was friends with one of the promoters who came to town.”
 As he took the helm of Data News in 1985, he learned that the skills needed to run a business of this size requires most of if not all of your time. It is unlike a normal job where you work a certain number of hours then you punch out for the day. Speaking of his normal work day he says, “The problem with this kind of work with public relations it’s a 24/7 thing.” Continuing he says, “I made the commitment early on that this was not a job but a way of life. I consider it a way of life particularly in a City like New Orleans, everybody knows who you are and you always have to be on always. And because we are so connected to the community I am always thinking what I can do to improve the paper to impact our people in a positive way.”
Data News Weekly Enters the Digital Age
As the media industry is changing and some print publications are struggling to survive Data News Weekly is not only surviving but thriving in a changing marketplace. Data News Weekly as have many print publications found themselves facing new challenges as the digital landscape is changing the nature of print media. Questions have arisen about how they will survive and remain viable. A reality not lost on Jones as he remarks of these changes, “We’ve had to re-identify ourselves online and connect with a new generation of readers. It is a challenge in this transition; we may have to eventually move from print to digital to reach our readers, but right now our print publication is doing well reaching readers and our website and social media presence has grown considerably.”
While Jones is embracing new media and the digital age he says that some businesses see more value in advertising in print publications, “Ironically, a survey just came out and it says a lot of corporations are going back to paper because with blogs and some of the digital things they are discovering they are not getting the same return on their investment.”
51 Years and the Meaning of Value to the Community
Presently, Data News Weekly is celebrating its 51th Year Anniversary and Jones feels his paper is poised to move into the future in spite of the changes in the newspaper industry that many face in the questioning of their continued relevance. “I think we are very valuable. I was just talking to the NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers Association) national advertising arm and we have these conversations with marketing folks. When you begin to talk about blogs and social media, we will not win in the numbers game that is not our platform, as I said earlier it is our interrelationship with the community that defines our value. I spoke with a CEO of Shell about helping to re-connect them to the Black Community; this is where our value lies; in that we have an over 50-year relationship with the Black Community. When companies advertise with Data News Weekly they get the value of my relationship and my trust with my readers, so my value is the paper’s longevity and being part of the community.”
He continues speaking on this theme stating that blogs and other web based news sites may have in some instances more eyes in terms of numbers, but does not have the client relationship and brand recognition that his paper has that would make a reader pay attention to advertised content. Jones feels that his qualitative value is what gives his paper a competitive advantage over what he deems as the cluttered, undifferentiated space that many blogs and new media companies occupy in the digital space. “That is my major value to the marketplace is my longevity in that community; our value is stability and our relationship with the community, not simply numbers.”
The People’s Paper and Commitment to the Community
And as we are on the eve of our municipal elections Data News Weekly continues to stay true to its motto as “The People Paper” it has developed partnerships with CUMULUS Radio, doing community outreach and sponsoring events across the City. Jones says, this is the best part of running Data News Weekly, “I enjoy uplifting our community and seeing the impact of outreach over the last 51 years. We are a part of and ingrained in the community helping shape the agenda of the City.”
Jones says of his future vision for Data News Weekly, “We want to continue in our role as the voice in our community to help shape the conversations of our City in these important times and telling our story for now and future generations. Also, we would like to thank all those who have supported us over the years our advertisers, our readers and most of all the community.”

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