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2009 by Target Market News Inc. All rights reserved
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CBC presses White
House for Black Press stimulus dollars, advertising fairness
By Hazel Trice Edney
NNPA News Service
(June 15, 2009) U. S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the
Congressional Black Caucus, is pressing the White House and the
president's cabinet on the apparent void in federal government
advertising in Black-owned newspapers and radio.
CBC spokesman Jioni Palmer this week says the CBC anticipates more
exchange on the issue in coming weeks as all White House cabinet
secretaries have been sent copies of CBC letters on the issue.
The dialog started April 23 when National Newspaper Publishers
Association Chairman John B. Smith, Sr. sent a letter to White House
Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel; President Obama's Special Advisor Valerie
Jarrett, and Lee. Smith's letter asked why the Black Press is not
benefitting from economic stimulus dollars to help disseminate
information to the Black community on how to apply for and use the $787
billion in economic stimulus money.
A story, partially prompted by the letter, was written by Wilmington
Journal reporter Cash Michaels and syndicated by the NNPA News Service
on April 27.
Lee then followed up with a May 13 letter to Vice President Joseph Biden,
who oversees the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the formal name
for the President's stimulus activity. Lee followed up with another
letter to Timothy Geithner, secretary of the U. S. Treasury. Both
letters were released to the NNPA News Service this week.
"We write to bring to your attention the general concern among African
American newspapers and radio station owners that they are not being
given a fair opportunity to compete for federal advertising dollars,"
Lee and CBC leaders wrote to Biden. "Specifically, we seek your
commitment that Black-owned media outlets are receiving their fair share
of advertising dollars in conjunction with the various activities
associated with the disbursement of federal dollars."
The letter further states, "We seek your additional commitment that
Black-owned media are being utilized by the federal government as it
distributes the $787 billion recovery package. Additionally, we seek the
same assurance when it comes to entities receiving money from the
federal government…We request a meeting with you at your earliest
convenience to discuss this matter in detail."
A separate letter to Geithner, requests specific information on dollar
amounts spent so far:
"Please advise me as to the total amounts your department and financial
institutions receiving TARP and TALF funds have spent on
African-American, Latino and Asian American owned newspapers and radio
stations," Lee wrote. "Also please advise me on the measures your
department has taken to insure that the minority-owned media outlets
participate equitably in your department's advertising, marketing and
TARP, which stands for Troubled Asset Relief Program; and TALF, which
stands for Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, are both
financial relief programs for businesses and corporations needing help.
Palmer, CBC communications director, says the letter to Treasury
Secretary Geithner was specifically a follow up to questions that Lee
posed to him as he testified May 21 before the House Financial Services
and General Government Operations Subcommittee of which she is a member.
"This is an issue that has great importance to the chairwoman of the CBC
and its members," Palmer said in an interview on Monday. He says the
conversations are ongoing as the CBC presses for results.
"We have received acknowledgements of our concerns," he said. "While we
have not settled on a specific course of action, a working conversation
In the April 27 story on Smith's letter, which was widely circulated by
NNPA Newspapers, NNPA Foundation Chairwoman Dorothy Leavell said it was
''unclear in the Black community where to go and what is available to
help Black families and Black businesses, the very communities that we
serve." She added, 'The Black Press has participated in teleconferences
and have sought information locally, yet there are no clear answers to
these two queries.''
Leavell vowed that the quest for information would continue.
''We will continue to vigorously reach out to the Obama Administration
to make sure that our community and our industry is a part of this
stimulus and avoid what has been the norm - that we are outside looking
in and devoid of stimuli,'' she said.
Palmer credits Smith's letter, the article and the conversations that
followed with stirring up interest and movement on the issue.
"I think it's fair to say that Mr. Smith's letter, as well as the
ongoing efforts of NNPA to bring attention to this economic justice,
economic fairness, economic parity issue are very important and very
helpful," Palmer said. "We encourage this type of civic engagement and
participation. I think it's clear in our letters that yes, these are
commercial enterprises, but they also serve a very important civic
Both of Lee's letters, also signed by CBC officers Maxine Waters (D-Calif.),
Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), pointed out the dual
purposes of the Black Press.
"African American owned newspapers and radio stations have historically
captured and chronicled the hopes and history of the African American
community when no one else cared. They remain uniquely positioned to
communicate directly with segments of the population that the federal
government must reach to achieve its mission," they wrote Biden. "As
implementation of the economic recovery package continues, I strongly
encourage you to include a review of African American-owned news outlets
and their struggle to receive an equitable distribution of taxpayer
funded advertising dollars."
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