NEW AMERICA MEDIA, Colorlines
The NAACP apologized yesterday to black community newspapers around the country for a perceived advertising snub at the recent Image Awards. Black publishers had expressed outrage that they’d been passed over on a symbolically important ad buy, but the NAACP says the papers were excluded accidentally due to a contractor’s mistake.
The dustup began when the NAACP neglected to place its 42nd NAACP Image Awards Magazine in several prominent black papers. The Philadelphia Tribune, America’s oldest and largest daily newspaper serving the African-American community, reported that it didn’t get the insert. The Los Angeles Sentinel, another one of the nation’s oldest and largest black newspapers, also didn’t carry it, along with other key markets, including Atlanta, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Chicago. The National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents more than 200 members of the black press, began surveying members to see how many others missed out on the important ad buy.
Community newspapers have been among the hardest hit by both the recession and dramatic changes to the news publishing business that make their age-old business models difficult to sustain. A snub from the NAACP was salt in the proverbial wound.
“At the end of the day, this is not just about communication, this is about economics,” said NNPA Chair Danny Bakewell, also publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, in a statement. “The fact that they are buying the message from the white papers and they want us to convey the message free in black papers is insult to injury.”
But NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous says nothing of the sort happened. Jealous explained that the organization has for the past five years contracted out the production and sales of the Image Award circular:
The NAACP does not condone the agency’s decision to exclude Black community newspapers. It is contrary to our explicit instruction, and we were not aware of the agency’s decision until after the guides hit the papers. Nonetheless, it was made for a publication that bears our name, and as CEO I take ultimately responsibility for it.