Chicago Defender Releases Final Print Issue as It Switches to Digital-Only Publication

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The iconic Chicago Defender published its final print edition on Wednesday, marking a dramatic change in one of the country’s most famous publications.

The newspaper, founded in 1905, is one of the most influential publications in the African-American community, but beginning with its next issue, it will transition into a digital-only enterprise.

On Wednesday, long-time readers made it a point to pick up the final print-edition of the newspaper, and it was an emotional event for those who have been long-time readers of the publication.

“It’s the paper that we all read,” supporter Larry Huggins said.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, who wrote his first-ever column in the pages of the Chicago Defender, says he will miss the print edition of the paper that he says helped him become a public figure.

“People would stack up those papers as archives in their homes and put them in churches,” he said. “That’s what I’ll miss the most. (It’s) a painful transition from a glorious past to an unknown, and hopefully bright, future.”

Throughout its existence, the paper has covered stories important to the African-American community, including the civil rights movement and the Great Migration, and campaigned against Jim Crow-era violence.

While many are hopeful that the publication will continue to enrich the lives of its readers in a digital-only format, others are concerned about older readers and those who can’t afford internet access being unable to read the paper.

“If the Chicago Defender is going digital, it’s because they didn’t get the support that they needed,” reader Midge Kimberly said.

The Defender said that it will save money by not printing the 16,000 copies of the newspaper, and readers are hopeful that it will be able to continue its mission.

“Hopefully this is going to work, and I do believe this will work, because when you look at the history of the Defender, for 100 some years, we gotta keep this thing going,” Huggins said. “There’s no way we can let this paper fail.”

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