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Barack Obama’s campaign spending and the Black Press

By Walter Smith

In 2008, the presidential elections cost a record-setting $2.8 billion. To win that election, Barack Obama spent $740.6 million, eclipsing the combined $646.7 million George W. Bush and John Kerry spent four years earlier. Obama’s spending accounted for 44 percent of all the money spent in that campaign. A Wall Street analyst projects that 2012 spending for ads across all media will easily surpass the $2.8 billion mark.

Obama inherited a country in severe economic recession, a real estate market that was belly up and an auto industry that was on the verge of collapse — General Motors’ shares had tumbled to $3.36 per share. In his first post-election press conference Obama called the automakers “the backbone of American manufacturing” as thousands of auto industry employees belonged to unions that are a part of the democratic base.

The financial “bailouts” of 2009 ($17.4 billion for General Motors and Chrysler, $6 billion for GMAC, $1.5 billion for Chrysler Financial) while great for those companies and the many others that received stimulus aid, had no visual and significant impact on the Black community. So many African Americans remain disillusioned about the benefits of the Obama presidency, and the financially depressed Black Press wonders why it has been overlooked.

The Black Press is the undisputed bedrock of Barack Obama’s political base. NNPA member newspapers carry positive stories about President Barack Obama and his administration on a weekly basis. Barack Obama lives because of the Black Press and the Black Church and is now in a position to utilize their services and expertise and provide a financial stimulus to this fledging entity. A budget of $20 million should adequately serve to inform, educate and influence the African American vote — which is a significant part of the democratic base.

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) represents Black newspapers across the US. The organization has member papers in every state, reaching readers in cities, towns, metro areas, villages and hamlets across the country. Some publishers are proprietors and affiliates of local radio stations. The organization has an in-house advertising placement facility thereby maintaining control of placements and insuring that the advertising messages are evenly and equitably distributed.

Of the $740 million spent in 2008 by the Obama campaign, $235 million was spent on broadcast advertising. Approximately $1 million was spent with 200 NNPA newspapers across the country, averaging one ad per newspaper, which is tokenism at best. This year it is estimated that his campaign spending will exceed $1 billion.

The Black Press needs to be encouraged to get Barack Obama re-elected. There needs to be a national campaign of advertising and editorials relating to the importance of the voter ID and going to the polls and vote. This is a critical issue and no other medium will address it as diligently and as effective as the Black Press. While the Black Press does its part in providing editorial support, it needs compensation to do its job effectively.

Walter Smith is the publisher of New York Beacon.

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