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New Leadership at The Amsterdam News
Written by Larcenia Cooper, Osakwe Beale, & Angel Colon|
Photographs by Shem Rajoon


The Store Front entrance to the Amsterdam News

At 27, Elinor Tatum has not let age prevent her from becoming the first female Editor in Chief of the Amsterdam News.This was an amazing success for a woman who, at a young age, suffered from dyslexia.

When it began publishing, the Amsterdam News was one of 50 black newspapers in the country. It is one of the longest running Black newspapers in America. The paper was started in 1909 by a man named James H. Anderson. In 1971. Bill Tatum joined forces with seven other investors, which included John Edmonds, former Mayor David Dinkins, Percy Sutton, and John Procope. Together they purchased the Amsterdam News from the owner C.B. Powell. Over the course of the years, Bill Tatum eventually bought out all the other shareholders and became the sole owner of the Amsterdam News.

In December of 1997, Bill Tatum stepped down as Editor in Chief, passing the position to his daughter, Elinor Tatum. Ms. Tatum originally began working at the Amsterdam News as an intern. Her position included clerical work such as getting coffee, making photocopies, and sending faxes. Later she started moving into the field of journalism.

(sound 160k) Now Elinor is running the weekly paper on her own. As of now, she can't see the difference between her father's style and her style of running the Newspaper, however many people feel there's a lot more to be done. There is a general feeling among many African Americans to whom HarlemLive spoke, that the Amsterdam News has been catering to the elite of the Harlem Community. Ms.Tatum maintains that the latest issues of the Amsterdam news have been acclimated to a broader group of people from the Harlem community. The circulation of the Amsterdam News has dropped from 58,905 in 1977 to the current circulation of 25, 962 according to the New York Times . Ms. Tatum believes that the decrease in circulation is attributed to the increased competition from other black newspapers and the New York dailies.

Technologically, the Amsterdam news is behind many of the other newspapers in Manhattan. It's one of the most well know newspapers in Harlem yet it's not on the Internet. Ms Tatum is starting to put forth efforts into getting the Amsterdam News on-line. According to the New York Times the Amsterdam news has only one computer within the administration, and does not have the technical equipment to perform on-site layout and printing. The Amsterdam News uses outside companies to perform both of these tasks.

The Amsterdam News has a staff of about 50, mostly African Americans on hand and without them there would be no paper, Ms. Tatum points out. HarlemLive also had a chance to speak to Robert Seixas, Ms.Tatum's Assistant. Mr.Seixas does Editorial work and helps out Ms. Tatum a great deal. Robert says it is a blessing to be young. He does so much at the Amsterdam News and Elinor does not know where she would be at if it weren't for him. They have known each other since College. Both attended New York University graduate school of journalism and went into the newspaper business. together. They will work to bring Amsterdam News back to it's once, more prominent status.



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