ABBOTT, ROBERT S. Born on St. Simon Island, GA in 1870, Robert S. Abbott generally is regarded as one of the "fathers" of black journalism in the United States. Educated at Beach Institute, Chaflin College and Hampton Institute, Abbott entered Kent Law School (Chicago) in 1896 and was awarded a law degree in 1899.
Following the completion of his legal studies, Abbott practiced law in Topeka, Kansas and Gary, Indiana. Although he was a competent attorney, Abbott soon drifted from the legal profession into journalism, which he referred to as his "first love." In 1905, he founded the Chicago Defender, ultimately to become one of the largest and most influential black owned and oriented newspapers in early twentieth century America.
Abbott was a born crusader and, like the newspaper publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, a practitioner of "yellow journalism" -- an early twentieth century journalistic practice that emphasized extreme sensationalism and exaggerated detail in order to capture the attention of the masses, and thereby increase newspaper circulation. By the time of his death in 1940, Abbott had increased the Defender's circulation from 300 to nearly 200,000.