By Denise Williams
On Monday, February 27, 2017, Mrs. Clara McLaughlin, owner and publisher of The Florida Star and The Georgia Star newspapers and owner of Star TV 18.2 was invited to address an assembly at Florida Blue. The hosts of the forum, ENABLE is an organization that empowers and inspires the interests and goals of African-Americans at Florida Blue. As the keynote speaker, she addressed entrepreneurship and her journey from writing, producing, and distributing her school’s only student newsletter, to the media icon she is today.
Clara McLaughlin was born in Brunswick, Ga. and raised in Gainesville, Fl. After high school, she
attended Hampton Institute in Hampton, VA majoring in music. Upon leaving Hampton Institute she
enrolled in the U.S. Navy as a W.A.V.E. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency service). While serving, she also worked as a yeoman (Yeoman’s performed many of the administrative tasks on ships) and was the organist for the Navy chapel.
After her tenure with the Navy ended, Mrs. McLaughlin attended Howard University. She discovered the university at the time did not have a journalism curriculum. She petitioned the school to have journalism offered to students. While there, she became active in collegiate matters through organizing communities that would enhance the lives of students. She was a co-founder of the National Black Communications Society, worked as an editorial assistant for the Journal of the National Medical Association. She then authored her book entitled “The Black Parents Handbook” published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. She graduated from Howard University with a degree in Journalism. Once Mrs. McLaughlin graduated college, she sought to change how the media depicted minorities and women. While living in Houston, she filed a petition with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) who eventually gave their approval for a television allocation in Houston (Channel 57). In the interim, she applied for, founded, owned, built and secured a CBS-affiliated television station (KLMG-TV) in Longview, TX. She was the first African-American female to do so. Longview, TX had a population of 63,000 at the time and was the largest city in the state which did not have a television station. Ms. McLaughlin was determined to change it. In addition to the Longview station, she eventually owned stations in Nacogdoches, TX KLNL-TV, Paris, TX, and KLPH-TV in Denison, TX.
In 1987, she was featured in Ebony Magazine’s March issue. The article entitled “Texas TV Pioneer” highlighted the many accomplishments of Mrs. McLaughlin in media. She was Chairman and CEO over an East Texas television network but Mrs. McLaughlin went on to make a name for herself in print media arena. In 2001, she purchased The Florida Star newspaper in Jacksonville, FL. This media outlet was founded in 1951. The history of this publication is to report stories relevant to the African-American community. Mrs. McLaughlin is carrying on that tradition. The Florida Star remains the largest, oldest and most read African-American newspaper in North East Florida. In 2005, she expanded the paper by including the Georgia Star. Mrs. McLaughlin has a radio show on WCGL 1360 AM entitled “IMPACT” that airs twice a week. She also owns Star TV 18.2 in the Jacksonville, FL area.
While addressing the Florida Blue gathering, she recounted how challenges arose during her journey in media. She shared memories of her parents, teachers, and mentors who helped shape her life which gave her the determination to excel in a white male dominated industry. Lastly, she shared why she is passionate to continue advancing in media to change the way minorities are depicted.