The Voice (newspaper)
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The Voice was founded in 1982 by Val McCalla, who, while working on a London local paper called the East End News in 1981, led a group of businessmen and journalists in a new and uncertain endeavour – the creation of a weekly newspaper to cater for the interests of British-born Afro-Caribbean people. Until then the Afro-Caribbean press in Britain had always addressed a generation of immigrants, relaying news from their countries of origin in the Caribbean and Africa. Publications were named accordingly, with titles such as the West Indian Gazette, West Indian World, The Caribbean Times and West Africa. According to Beulah Ainley, who worked with McCalla on the East End News, "nobody thought the Voice would work", however, as The Independent has noted: "The previous summer, Brixton had rioted, and Afro-caribbean enterprises of all kinds were now being encouraged in the hope of preventing a repetition. London's councils, in particular, were keen to advertise for black staff, and even keener to do so in an Afro-Caribbean newspaper. McCalla also had a business partner, Alex Pascall, with BBC connections; soon the Corporation was advertising too."
The Voice got off the ground with a £62,000 loan from Barclays Bank. At a time when Afro-caribbean businesses found it particularly hard to get backing from banks, The Voice was helped by two factors.
One was Barclays' desire to show support for Afro-caribbean causes, to counteract the adverse publicity attracted by their investments in South Africa. The other was the existence of the Loan Guarantee Scheme, set up by the Conservative government as part of Margaret Thatcher's policy of aiding and encouraging the growth of small businesses in Britain. Under the Loan Guarantee Scheme the Government secured 80% of the loan, thereby reducing the risk taken by the bank. As it turned out the loan was fully paid off within five years.
The first issue of The Voice was printed to coincide with the Notting Hill Carnival in August 1982. Its cover price was 54 pence, and was only sold in London.
The Voice′s first office was in Mare Street, Hackney, East London. The first editor, Flip Fraser, led a team of young journalists who set about addressing the issues that mattered to Britain's Afro-caribbean community. They laid the foundation for the future success of the paper, combining human-interest stories and coverage of sports, fashion and entertainment with hard news and investigative reporting.
Within two decades it had become "Britain's most successful Afro-caribbean newspaper". and had fought off a challenge from the New Nation, an upbeat, aspirational rival (funded by Rupert Murdoch's son-in-law) that accused The Voice of being "just a doom-and-gloom sheet".
Type and circulation
The Voice is produced in tabloid format and is a weekly newspaper, published on a Thursday, priced at £1. The paper caters to the interests of the African & Caribbean diaspora in the UK. There is also the website, The Voice Online, which regularly attracts high number of weekly unique visits.
The Voice newspaper is available nationwide, and has a wide reach online including UK, US and Africa.
The newspaper has different sections:
- News – includes: National, World, Business, Technology, Science, Health, Education matters.
- Life & Style – includes: Entertainment features; People and Place; Arts, Books, Music and Theatre Reviews; Stepping Out and Competitions.
- Soul Stirrings - All topics that fall under faith are discussed in a frank and open manner each week in this section. It also attracts regular contributions.
- Sports - Another award-winning section of the newspaper, focusing on all sports matters.
- Opinion - Includes a popular weekly opinion piece from popular BBC broadcaster Dotun Adebayo
Regular features and special publications covered in the newspaper include:
- African & Caribbean Food Guide - A annual publication listing the best African & Caribbean restaurants across the UK and including regular features on up and coming restaurants and key figures to watch.
- Family Matters. Each month The Voice looks at an issue surrounding family, parenting, care, fostering and adoption, healthy lifestyle and fitness, in a pull-out guide containing expert advice, information and contact points.
- Health Matters. Each month The Voice considers an issue surrounding mental and physical well-being. It is another pull-out guide that is filled with expert advice, useful information and contact points.
- Apprenticeships - Each year, a supplement highlighting apprenticeships across the UK is published alongside the newspaper. The supplement includes features from key figures in business and apprenticeships, alongside tricks on how
- Carnival - Every August, the Voice newspaper publishes a Carnival supplement to coincide with The Notting Hill Carnival.
In July 2017, The Voice hosted a special charity dinner for Usain Bolt ahead of his final appearance at the World Championships. The event, which took place at The Dorchester Hotel, raised money for Bolt and coach Glen Mills' Racers Track Club through auctioning off special items and raised over £40,000.
The Voice has been a key player in Africa On The Square - a yearly event which takes place every October in Trafalgar Square, celebrating Africa's culture, cuisine, music and more.
The Managing Editor is George Ruddock. Additional editorial staff consists of Rodney Hinds – Sports & Features Editor; Vic Motune - News Editor; Joel Campbell – Entertainment Editor; Leah Sinclair – Online Editor and Alannah Francis - Journalist.
Well over a hundred people have worked for The Voice newspaper over the years, including former Commission for Racial Equality chair Trevor Phillips, former BBC and currently Al Jazeera newsman Rageh Omaar, ITV's Martin Bashir, authors Diran Adebayo, Leone Ross, and Gemma Weekes; film maker and novelist Kolton Lee, novelist Vanessa Walters, broadcasters MTV Jasmine Dotiwala, Henry Bonsu, Dotun Adebayo, Onyekachi Wambu and publisher Steve Pope, among others.
Recognition and awards
The Voice has received many awards which include:
- Young Voices – two "Best Magazine" awards from the Urban Music Awards 2010 and 2009.
- BBI Media and Entertainment Award 2008.
- Voice of Sports – Performance Award 2003 from Western Union
- BEEAM Awards for Organisation Achievements 2003
- Black Plus Awards 2002
- Britain’s Ethnic Minority Federation at the Bank of England, Partnership Awards 1999.
- NLBA Enterprise Excellence Awards 1996
- BGA Gospel Awards – Best Media 1980s.
- "Newspapers", Black In Britain.
- Andy Beckett, "The Voice in the Wilderness", The Independent, 11 February 1996.
- Angelique Chrisafis, "McCalla, publisher who gave black people a voice, dies", The Guardian, 24 August 2002.
- Decca Aitkenhead, "Black and successful? Here's the good news", The Independent, 13 October 1996.
- Chris Tryhorn, "Voice sold off in £4m deal", MediaGuardian, The Guardian, 20 May 2004.
- Chris Tryhorn, "Gleaner group acquires the Voice", The Guardian, 21 May 2004.
- The Voice website.
- "Contact us", The Voice online.
- Ian Burrell, "Lester Holloway: 'Victim stories have had their day in black papers'", The Independent, 5 May 2008.
- Steve Pope, "Total blackout", Comment, The Guardian, 19 March 2004.
- "Author: Onyekachi Wambu", Random House Group.