Michael House stepping down as president, publisher of Chicago Defender
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter September 17, 2013 10:14PM
Chicago Defender President and Publisher Michael House is stepping down to take a position with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Washington, D.C.-based federation that represents more than 200 black community newspapers nationwide. | Provided photo
Updated: October 19, 2013 7:26PM
Chicago Defender President and Publisher Michael House is stepping down.
House will retire effective Sept. 30 and will take a position with the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Washington, D.C.-based federation that represents more than 200 black community newspapers nationwide.
“It’s been a great experience, a great 5 1/2 years,” said House, who took the Defender’s helm in 2008. “I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s time to move on.”
Executive Editor Ron Childs was named interim publisher. He joined the paper, owned by Detroit-based investment group Real Times Media, six months ago.
While the nation’s oldest black-owned newspaper is facing economic challenges that are confronting the industry as a whole, House said he is leaving voluntarily.
The paper recently made critical cuts, including downsizing two of its remaining full-time staffers to freelance basis: Theresa “Teesee” Fambro Hooks, a columnist for about 40 years, and longtime photographer Worsom Robinson. The move left its editorial department with about a handful of full-time staffers.
“We’re challenged like everybody else, but we’re still holding our own,” said House, who begins his position as vice president of advertising for the 73-year-old trade group on Oct. 1. He will work out of Chicago.
“This was all activated by me. Real Times wasn’t pushing me to leave,” he said.
Real Times Media’s CEO Hiram Jackson concurred that House’s decision was his own.
“When we asked him to come and run the Defender, we agreed it would be three or four years. It’s been 5 1/2,” Jackson said. “Mike has a really long history in the black newspaper industry, and he’s done all he could, and it’s just time.”
The 106-year-old once-daily paper founded by Robert Abbott in 1905 currently prints once a week. Its focus is now on its digital presence.
Under House, the paper launched its digital version and saw significant growth online; won the NNPA’s prestigious John B. Russworm trophy for excellence, and relocated its headquarters from downtown back into the South Side community.
House previously worked for four years as press secretary to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. Before that, he helmed Cleveland’s black-owned Call & Post newspaper for a decade. House previously worked for the NNPA for eight years, and with Johnson Publishing Co.’s Ebony magazine for eight years.