As I reflect on the ninety-year sojourn of the St. Louis American, three words immediately come to mind; longevity, consistency and excellence.
From its genesis in 1928, by founder Judge Nathan B. Young to its present owner/publisher Dr. Donald Suggs, it has remained the longest continuously published African-American publication in the St. Louis area, as well as evolved into the largest weekly paper in the state of Missouri.
Capturing every iconic moment locally, regionally and nationally; from local desegregation to The March on Washington, to the Million Man March, to the election of the first black mayor of the City of St. Louis and ultimately, the election of the nation’s first African-American president, The St. Louis American has been front and center in observing and reporting our history.
That’s an impressive feat locally, but when you consider that, particularly, under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Suggs, The St. Louis American has completely revamped its niche; expanding its advertising and business model, producing an excellently written FREE, visually appealing and technologically sophisticated newspaper with an expanded circulation, while concurrently monopolizing local, regional and national awards for consistent journalistic excellence.
During my brief 15-year journey on the pages of this iconic publication, I think I’ve learned the formula for the “secret sauce.” It consists of an owner with vision and (who) demands excellence and isn’t afraid to surround himself with a talented cast of editors, writers, photojournalists, web specialists, political commentators and cutting-edge innovators of thought.
Admittedly, I tend to be a journalistic gadfly in my approach, particularly in covering the political machinations of Illinois politicians; something which, upon joining this newspaper, caused me to wonder how long I would be tolerated.
What I found in Dr. Donald Suggs was a mentor and one who has encouraged my approach as long as my facts were verifiable, accurate and relevant to our audience.
I dare say that few other publications would be so accepting of the heat that I sometimes bring to bear in my pursuit of light.
But this is precisely why The St. Louis American has and will continue to be relevant into the foreseeable future, because truth, excellence, consistency and journalistic integrity will always be the formula for success in the newspaper industry, be it print or electronic media.