Determined to make a difference, Clara McLaughlin has made it her mission to give a voice to the voiceless. She started her communications journey in high school, where she created the first student newsletter and developed an interest in writing and media. After spending a few years in the Navy, Ms. McLaughlin joined the Howard University community as both an employee and a student. Her positions in the dean’s office and the public relations office paved the way for her success at the school. Notably, she was instrumental in initiating the journalism major and the National Black Communications Society at Howard University, and was recognized for outstanding work as the co-editor and editor-in-chief of the Bison Yearbook. Under Ms. McLaughlin’s tutelage, the yearbooks became the first published by a black school to receive All-American Awards. She graduated in 1972 with honors.
Around this time, Ms. McLaughlin had her daughter and was able to sit down and watch TV for the first time in a long time. She found that she didn’t like how female minorities were portrayed, so she petitioned CBS to let her purchase KLMG-TV, Channel 51. They agreed, and she became the first black woman in U.S. history to be the owner and largest shareholder of a network-affiliated television station. Ms. McLaughlin immediately took charge; she obtained permits from the Federal Communications Commission, bought and renovated the building, hired a station manager, and secured investors and advertisers. Her first broadcast was on September 9, 1984, and showed a Dallas Cowboys game. Her first major advertiser was Proctor Gamble.
In 2002, Ms. McLaughlin moved to Florida and her career shifted. She purchased The Florida Star and Georgia Star Newspapers on August 31 of that year, and has been active as the publisher and owner ever since. The Florida Star and Georgia Star are the largest, oldest, and most read African American-owned newspapers in Northeast Florida and Southern Georgia. It is circulated throughout Florida and many other states through retail outlets and subscribers.
Over the years, Ms. McLaughlin has earned numerous accolades for her leadership, tenacity, and vision, including a Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University, the Kool Achievers Award, and the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The biggest honor in her eyes, however, was sharing lunch with President Reagan and meeting Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Bush. She was also proud of winning several trailblazer awards and the award for being the most factual media in Jacksonville, Fla.
When Ms. McLaughlin isn’t working, she enjoys singing, performing, and writing. She has contributed numerous articles to professional journals and authored the book, “Black Parents’ Handbook: A Guide to Healthy Pregnancy, Birth and Child Care.”