– Gypsy C. Gallardo for Power Broker Media Group (Image by Tennessee Tribune)
On February 12th, the nation’s leading black media trade organization announced that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg had “just delivered the largest single advertising buy to the Black Press in the 80-year history of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA),” an organization that reports to represent 230 black-owned newspapers and media companies nationwide.
Just how large? $3.5 million is the figure cited by NNPA, much of it apparently slated to be spent over a three-week span leading to the make-or-break Super Tuesday primaries on March 3rd.
Critics were quick to pounce with the accusation that Bloomberg is attempting to “buy-off” the black media.
Fair enough. Especially with reports trickling in about Bloomberg attempting to “buy” black support (e.g., the offer of $6,500 per month plus medical benefits to South Florida activist Elijah Manley, who happens to be a Bernie Sanders supporter).
But let’s give it some perspective.
The NNPA has 64 member media outlets in the 13 states where voters will speak their piece on March 3rd. And if Bloomberg’s dollars are equally divided across the territory, that equates to $54,700 per media outlet in the NNPA network.
It’s a substantial chunk, considering the shoe-string budgets that many black media outfits operate from. But it’s peanuts relative to the massive sums Bloomberg has so far spent on advertising across the board.
In addition, it may be woefully insufficient when weighed against the size of the black electorate he’s attempting to influence. Broken down, Bloomberg’s contract with NNPA translates to an average $0.35 per voting-age African American in the 13 Super Tuesday states (home to roughly 9.93 million black adults).
He’s spent five times as much with other advertising outlets (an average $1.73 per voting age American).
The multi-billionaire has made no secret that he leads with his pocketbook, and for some African Americans, that’s persuasive.
It’s the reason world-renowned educator Geoffrey Canada (creator of the Harlem Children’s Zone strategy) endorsed Bloomberg, despite his years-long disagreement with the former Mayor’s “Stop and Frisk” policy in New York.
As Canada said in his exclusive interview with TheGriot.com, “I am one of the people who told [Bloomberg] he was wrong about “Stop and Frisk”…and he refused to move on this point…[yet] I wanted somebody who was prepared to make a massive financial investment in poor communities…and there’s no other candidate who’s come up with anything even close to that.”
He’s referring to Bloomberg’s Greenwood Initiative, which promises a $70 billion investment in 100 low-income communities across the country, along with targeted initiatives to create 1 million new African American homeowners and 100,000 new black-owned businesses.
Canada isn’t alone in his logic. He “called it” the way many African Americans see it, including Florida State Senator Darryl Rouson, who endorsed Bloomberg last week, also citing the Greenwood Initiative as his reason.
According to Steve Benjamin, the African American mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, and Bloomberg campaign co-chair, the NNPA deal reflects his candidate’s commitment to building an inclusive economy.
The Atlanta Voice quotes Benjamin saying “The ad buy not only is a show of respect to the incredible impact and importance of African American journalism but also it is [Bloomberg] walking the walk when it comes to his investing in African American-owned businesses.”
While the multi-million-dollar black media ad buy is a drop in the bucket on a national scale, it’s also massive, relative to the amounts currently being spent by other Democratic primary contenders. The NNPA has long been vocal in criticizing the paltry political spending with black-owned media during presidential elections.
Dr. Ben Chavis, NNPA president, told the Tennessee Tribune, “What it shows is that the Bloomberg campaign is taking the Black vote seriously and it’s taking the Black Press seriously.”
In January and early February, Bloomberg surged to second place standing among black voters nationwide (see the Feb 10th Quinnipiac poll recap). His investment in black-targeted media may help counteract the losses he’s surely incurred since the verbal smackdown he suffered in Tuesday’s Nevada debate (courtesy of Elizabeth Warren).
Whether it’s enough to hold onto his top tier standing with black voters is impossible to call.
Disclosure: This media outlet is not a party to this or any other candidate ad buys in the 2020 presidential primary (and this writer is backing Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the primary, and the Democratic nominee in the general election).
Gypsy Gallardo is Publisher of the Power Broker magazine, TheBurgVotes.com and the forthcoming AmericanBeach.News. She is also CEO of Urban Market Analytics. Her life’s work is dedicated to the advancement of black Americans. During the 2020 Presidential Election cycle, Gypsy will contribute coverage and analysis of issues of most importance to people of color.