ATLANTA (NNPA) – A panel discussion at the National Newspaper Publishers Association annual convention titled, “Get Out the Vote” should have been renamed, “Get Out the Anger” as Black newspaper owners expressed their strong displeasure over the Obama administration’s failure to accommodate the needs of the Black Press.
“We don’t think the president has ever spoken to us. He’s spoken to the Latino community and he’s been specific,” said Robert W. Bogle, publisher of the Philadelphia Tribune and a former NNPA president. “This is the first president since Franklin Roosevelt that has not invited the Black press to the White House (for an interview).”
Although President Obama has met several times with Black newspaper publishers at the White House, he has never addressed an NNPA convention. The NNPA News Service has made repeated requests for a one-on-one interview with the president, but those requests have been denied.
Other Black media outlets have had similar experiences. Heart & Soul magazine, a health and fitness magazine for women of color, offered to place Michelle Obama on the cover but they, too, were denied an interview with the First Lady.
Black media executives, many of them strong supporters of President Obama, are puzzled by President and Mrs. Obama’s frequent appearances on late-night comedy shows yet his staff can’t—or won’t—find time for interviews with the Black Press.
Dorothy Leavell, immediate past president of the NNPA Foundation, which operates the NNPA News Service and BlackPressUSA.com, said the last time the NNPA was granted an interview with Mr. Obama was before he assumed office.
“I have made several requests that we be allowed to have an interview. All 200 of us cannot get an interview with the president, that’s unreasonable,” she said. “But for a national organization such as NNPA to not be allowed to interview the president, that’s unacceptable.”
Disillusionment with the president and his staff is not limited to the Black Press.
“They feel that they’re being taken for granted, they don’t feel included,” said Jaime Cain, publisher of the Times Weekly newspaper in Joliet, Ill. “I’m hearing, ‘So when President Obama loses …’ This is what I’m hearing in the community.”
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