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Samuel G. Knox, right, discusses the need for diverse news content in an interview with SBJ’s Eric Olson.
SBJ photo by Geoff Pickle
Samuel G. Knox, right, discusses the need for diverse news content in an interview with SBJ’s Eric Olson.

Former MIB leader eyes digital expansion of monthly newspaper

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Samuel G. Knox is planning a digital expansion of his monthly newspaper after exiting the top leadership role at Minorities in Business of Southwest Missouri earlier this year.

Knox's Unite of Southwest Missouri publishes news and informational resources designed for Black and multiracial families in the community on a monthly basis. During Springfield Business Journal's 12 People You Need to Know live interview series this morning, Knox said the publication's digital presence is a growth area.

"We're kind of playing catch-up right now to really do a lot more in digital content," he said in the livestreamed interview with SBJ Editorial Vice President Eric Olson. "There is so much more that we need to do with our digital platform."

Knox said Unite is planning to hire content creators and information technology specialists to boost the newspaper's digital presence. He said the company's website currently is mostly a portal to read the latest monthly publication.

While he prefers the feel of a newspaper in his hands, Knox said he understands public preferences are changing.

"We understand that many of our readers and audience consume their news and information online now, whether it's their mobile or desktop," he said. "Fewer and fewer people are picking up print publications to read."

Knox co-founded the publication in 1998 with Mark Dixon to provide an alternative to the stereotypical and sometimes negative depictions of African-Americans in local news media, according to past reporting.

In February, Knox announced his exit from networking and advocacy group MIB after leading the organization as executive director since 2016. This morning, he said the need to care for his aging parents factored into the decision.

He was unsure whether a successor would be hired at MIB, and he said board leadership had not responded as of this morning to a recent inquiry about the director role. Knox said the organization was board-led from its 2009 inception until he was tabbed for the first paid position. Wes Pratt of Missouri State University’s diversity and inclusion department is listed as board chair on the MIB website.

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