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BlackStats                      
Frequently requested data on African American consumers

Black Buying Power:
  $656 Billion (2003)

Black U.S. Population:
  38.3 million

Top Five Black Cities
  - New York
  - Chicago
  - Detroit
  - Philadelphia
  - Houston

Top Five Black Metros:
  - New York-New Jersey
  - Washington-Baltimore
  - Chicago-Gary
  - Los Angeles
  - Philadelphia

Top Five Expenditures:
 - Housing 145.2 bil.
 - Food 56.5 bil.
 - Cars/Trucks 32.6 bil.
 - Clothing 23.0 bil.
 - Health Care 18.0 bil.

Click here for more stats from "The Buying Power of Black America."

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Bureau Data

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The term 'minority' no longer may be relevant as a description

By Erin Texeira
Associated Press

(August 21, 2005) What do you call a minority that is becoming the majority?

News that Texas is the fourth state in which non-Hispanic whites make up less than 50 percent of residents has renewed discussion about whether the term "minority" has outlived its usefulness; critics include both liberals and conservatives.

While some think the complaints are mere nitpicking, others argue the word is increasingly inaccurate, obsolete and even offensive.

"Twenty or 30 years ago, we saw the country as a majority- white country with a black minority, but now you have places where that is a woefully poor description of what is going on," especially given the rapidly growing Hispanic population, said Roderick Harrison, a demographer with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black think tank. The word "minority" is "a confusing term if one thinks of today's population."

The majority of residents in Texas, California, New Mexico and Hawaii plus the District of Columbia are some ethnicity other than non-Hispanic whites, according to Census Bureau population estimates released last week. Five other states, including New York and Georgia, could make that shift by 2010.

Soon, more than one-third of Americans will live in states where Latinos, blacks, Asians, American Indians and other ethnic groups outnumber whites. Such demographic shifts have given rise to the term "majority- minority."

Harrison noted that "minority" refers to more than just numbers. "The word's origins are that these are populations that once had the status of minors before the law," Harrison said. "These are populations that, in one way or another, did not have full legal status or full civil rights."

Haig Bosmajian, a University of Washington professor emeritus of communications, said that when he researched his book "The Language of Oppression" in the 1960s, "minority" accurately described blacks and other relatively small ethnic groups.

"But by 'minority' today we mean a disadvantaged group of citizens. We mean not the privileged at the top, but the underprivileged at the bottom: People who make $10 million a year, we don't call them a 'minority,' " he said. "There's power behind these terms."

Luke Visconti of DiversityInc, which advises businesses on racial issues, believes that shelving "minority" is important because the word implies second-class status. Modern-day discrimination is more subtle than in years past, he said, and "language is the dominant way today of expressing oppression."

Whatever the reason, "minority" is already falling from favor.

"People of color" is often used, particularly in academia. "Multicultural," "diverse" and "urban" also are common. The University of Michigan has what it calls "minority-cultural lounges" with black, Latino, Asian and American Indian themes.

Even the Census Bureau is moving in that direction.

Though the bureau has not officially barred its use - last week's news release on Texas was titled, "Texas Becomes Nation's Newest 'Majority-Minority' State" - many officials avoid "minority" in favor of more specific racial and ethnic labels, said Claudette Bennett, chief of the census racial statistics branch.

The bureau increasingly tries to use specific terms such as "Pacific Islander" and "Mexican- American," she said.


The TV networks owe us an apology for ignoring John H. Johnson

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.Commentary By
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.

(August 18, 2005) Last week, the American media lost a giant, John Johnson, the chairman of Johnson Publishing Co. Thousands of mourners, including a former U.S. President, former heads of state from Africa and leaders from business, civil rights and religion, attended his funeral on Monday, recognizing him as an authentic America hero. But his passing was practically ignored by the networks.

Unlike the news coverage accorded to those who make a difference in society, there was no news special on Mr. Johnson. This is patently unjust, a spasm of neglect that can only be explained by ignorance about how John Johnson altered the American landscape.  Sadly, this oversight also bears more credence to the recently released study by the National Urban League Policy Institute called Sunday Morning Apartheid, which highlights the absence of Black hosts, analysts and guests on the Sunday Morning news talk shows.

Back then we were Aunt Jemima, Amos and Andy, Little Black Sambo. We were the popping eyeballs, the exaggerated lips, the grotesque stretched-out fingers and legs. We were the minstrels, the jesters, the babbling idiots. Those demeaning, degrading images were everywhere – except John Johnson’s magazines. In those slick images, week after week and year after year, we saw beautiful Black people, who were successful and living well.

From Malcolm to Martin to Mandela, from Thurgood Marshall to Muhammad Ali, from Mahalia Jackson to Queen Latifah, John Johnson’s publications showed us the agents of change who would reshape our destiny. And he brought us the news of our world: the Black obituary columns, the weddings, the social events. Through his magazines, his Ebony Fashion Fair shows and cosmetics, and his enormously successful radio station, WJPC, he brought us ourselves.

And in this way, week after week and year after year, John Johnson changed our minds.  We changed our minds about ourselves. We developed pride and aspiration. And we developed resistance, a condition of fierceness that could not be denied, as we saw the pictures and read the stories of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks and so many others. The best chronicle that exists of America’s human-rights struggle lies in the files of Ebony and the Johnson Publishing Company.

John Johnson helped incalculably to make our nation a more perfect union. He is in our hearts, and we are in his debt – as is every journalist of our day. It is not too late to inform the American public about the dramatic life and accomplishments of John Johnson. I look forward to viewing that special coverage.
Click here to read Rev. Jackson's entire commentary

Too little ink on the passing of a legend

Commentary by
E.R. Shipp
N.Y. Daily News
(August 14, 2005) A giant in American journalism, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and many other honors, died last week - and attention was not adequately paid.

I speak of John Johnson, the visionary, generous and sometimes ornery founder of the company that has borne his family's name since the 1940s and has published, among other things, Ebony and Jet.

Johnson once said: "We wanted to give blacks a new sense of somebodiness, a new sense of self-respect. We wanted to tell them who they were and what they could do. We believed then - and we believe now - that blacks needed positive images to fulfill their potentialities."

He, like Wilbert Tatum of the Amsterdam News here in New York, took issue with those of us who worked for the mainstream (aka "white") press. They challenged us in that tradition of the labor song, "Which side are you on?" Johnson is largely how many black editors, producers, corporate executives, civil rights activists, politicians, playwrights, novelists, entertainers, athletes - even Bishop Desmond Tutu - got to where we are by giving us that "sense of somebodiness," cultivating our dreams and celebrating our successes.

Perhaps because Ebony and Jet were always a part of my life - and that of many black families and black barbershops and black beauty parlors - I felt rather comfortable deconstructing it and finding it irrelevant during the time when I was full of myself at Columbia University Law School. When I told Mr. Johnson - and he was Mr. Johnson - that my law school classmates and I had tried to figure out how to take over his corporation, he laughed. He'd met many an idealistic fool before, and his standard answer was essentially a challenge: Start your own magazine. While he was the ultimate race man, shining a spotlight on the positive among blacks that mainstream media seemed never to find, he was also the superb business man. That $500 he borrowed to start his first magazine while working at an insurance company turned into a $500 million empire.

I recall running into him at a little grocery store on Michigan Ave. in Chicago and he was using coupons. He knew how to make a dollar go far, raising tens of millions of dollars for scholarships, donating $4 million to a school of communications at Howard University, and presenting $1 million most recently to the state university of Arkansas, where he was born. He was a proud man who when he built the Johnson Publishing Co.'s headquarters on Michigan Ave. included a cafeteria that not only provided wonderful subsidized food for his employees but, most importantly, assured that black folks - entertainers, athletes, civil rights leaders and such - could eat well and comfortably and not have to guess which white establishments might welcome them or turn them away.

Because of all that he did I am angry, though not surprised, that most of the mainstream American media did not pay attention to his death and life in a manner that it should have.

Johnson Publishing Company: an empire built on valuing Black consumers


By Ken Smikle
(August 9, 2005)
Sixty years ago, John H. Johnson single handedly created the Black consumer market.
 
Before the introduction of Ebony magazine in November 1945, there were Black newspapers, and even a sprinkling of radio stations catering to the Black audiences. But for advertisers, especially those that were nationally recognized, the Black consumer market didn't exist and neither did the need to advertise to it.

Johnson's first publication, Negro Digest, offered advertisers the first national media vehicle targeted to the Black audience. But the magazine's lifeblood was the revenue generated from single copy sales and subscriptions from the circulation of 100,000 monthly copies. While subscribers were plentiful, advertising was slim. So much so that Johnson decided to create his own line of hair products and advertise them in the same pages major advertisers bypassed.

 
With the introduction of Ebony, his second magazine, the budding entrepreneur established the first media vehicle capable of delivering color advertising messages to African-Americans coast-to-coast.
 
But despite the uniqueness of this opportunity, and more than 400,000 copies sold per month, advertisers would not consider Ebony as they readily did other publications targeted to White America.
 
Undeterred,
Johnson decided the only solution was to meet the challenge head on and persuade advertisers, one by one, that they simply could not succeed without taking his readers seriously.
 
"I intended to deal with the problem by persuading corporations and advertising executives to give Ebony the same consideration they gave Life and Look [magazines]," wrote Johnson in his autobiography, "Succeeding Against the Odds: The Autobiography of a Great American Businessman."
 
"To do that I had to convince corporations and advertising executives that there was an untapped, underdeveloped market larger and more affluent than some of the White foreign markets," Johnson recalled.

After employing both Black and White salesmen to pitch Ebony to advertising agencies, Johnson decided to assume the role of delivering the message himself. He took to the task with unrelenting tenacity, cultivating personal relationships with marketers, and galvanizing his readers to personally write letters to companies reluctant to spend money in their favorite publication.

 
Persistence finally paid off, but the struggle never ended. "We broke through the plate glass of invisibility by proving that Black consumers not only existed but that they bought more name brand products than White consumers," wrote Johnson. "We proved, for example, that Blacks were buying, proportionately more premium Scotch and more big cars than their White counterparts."
 
But even when confronted with the research, advertisers refused to support the Johnson Publishing Co. titles with dollars commensurate with their position in the market. When Ebony was first launched, African-Americans collectively earned less than $10 billion annually. Today, with those earnings approaching $700 billion, Johnson still has never had the luxury of taking advertising for granted.
 
In at least one instance, Johnson felt that perhaps he was battling far greater forces than he imagined when taking on the advertising establishment. Once he had spent years cultivating the ad manager for Sears.
 
"I sent birthday, holiday and anniversary cards. I tried in every way I could to sell him. Then, on a day I'll never forget, he said 'John, I think we're going to do it.' Would you believe it - he died a day or so later of a heart attack. I said to myself, 'Even the Lord doesn't want us to have this account."
 
Johnson persevered and went on to build one of the most enviable businesses in the country, with $498 million in sales last year. More than 25 percent of that revenue derived from advertising sales in Ebony and Jet, which collectively now boast a circulation of more than 5 million copies a month.
 
The secret of Johnson's success lies in his steady insistence in his company's mission - delivering positive portrayals of African-Americans, and securing value from advertisers for the audience he delivered.
 
As an entrepreneur who rose from poverty to ranks of the nation's richest individuals selling products that catered to the needs of Black consumers, Johnson is clear about the larger role of race in his accomplishments. "I've talked to scores of Black millionaires who say, almost to a man or woman that they made money not because of race, but in spite of race…If I hadn't operated with the handicap of racial barriers, I could have made billions instead of millions."


Southern states hope to attract more black tourists with heritage tours


By Dionne Walker

Associated Press
(August 5, 2005) For years, students crammed shoulder to shoulder into Robert R. Moton High School, holding overflow classes in tarpaper shanties and even school buses -- all in the name of segregated education.  
 
Finally on April 23, 1951, the black students organized a walkout. They would later join a handful of schools included in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision outlawing school segregation.  
 
That bit of civil rights history draws about 1,000 visitors a year to a modest museum at the school. Travel industry experts say it's an example of the kind of historical sites Southern states are promoting as they ride a wave of black tourism.  
 
It's called heritage tourism, the trend of transforming the annual family vacation into a cultural history lesson. "It's the second-fastest-growing market segment of tourism," said Rich Harrill, director of the University of South Carolina's Institute for Tourism Research. He listed nature-based tourism as No. 1.  
 
It's particularly popular among increasingly middle-class black Americans. Roughly 1.3 million black-headed households earned at least $50,000 a year in 1989, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number increased to more than 3 million by 1999, the most recent numbers compiled.  
 
The result is about $30.5 billion in black tourist spending annually, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. It estimates black travel volume increased about 4 percent from 2000 to 2002, compared to 2 percent for overall travel.  
 
Consciousness, not just cash, plays a role, said Angela da Silva, owner of the National Black Tourism Network in St. Louis. "For so long, our heritage was stripped from us," she said. "There's so many more different angles of the truth coming to light."  
 
Da Silva said black tourists are willing to wade through the pain of visiting some of the centers of bigotry to reconnect with their ancestry. "We go there because this was the seat of our history," da Silva said. "It's the same reason why Jews go to Holocaust sites -- it's to get in touch."  
 
Travel industry officials say Southern states need to pay attention to preserving important black landmarks and cultural areas, such as the parts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida that were settled by slave descendants.  
 
They'll also have to redefine themselves for a savvy class of tourists.  
 
Tennessee has focused on increasing its appeal to blacks. The state vacation guide mentions everything from galleries at historically black Fisk University in Nashville to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.  
 
Tourism officials are also a year into an advertising campaign with two spokespeople: country music icon Dolly Parton and soul singer Isaac Hayes. "By having him as part of that campaign, we think that makes a bold statement for inclusiveness for the entire state," said Phyllis Qualls-Brooks, assistant commissioner of marketing with the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.  
 
Other attractions are getting creative as they vie for black tourist attention. A mainstay in Virginia, Colonial Williamsburg recently added a new tool in its attempts to freshen history. Great Hopes Plantation replicates an 18th-Century, middle-income plantation complete with black field slaves and a tiny slave dwelling.  
 
It's touted as a more hands-on approach than older slavery representations at Williamsburg. And black tourists are intrigued, said Jason Gordon, a black interpreter at Williamsburg. "They want to know the realities," he said, as he watched site supervisor Robert Watson Jr. direct a tourist group planting gourd seeds in a mock slave garden. "They don't want it sugar-coated."  
 
Virginia officials, meanwhile, are revamping their black heritage guide to places such as the Richmond home of pioneering businesswoman Maggie L. Walker and the Booker T. Washington National Monument.  
 
Since May 2004, the Virginia Tourism Corporation has spent more than $300,000 trying to reach the black market, according to public relations manager Anedra Bourne.

Wachovia forms $10 million initiative after research shows past slave ownership

(August 4, 2005) Wachovia Corp. has announced new community partnerships to non-profits groups that benefit African- Americans that are valued $10 million over five years. These initiatives focus on three key areas: preserving and promoting African-American history and culture; enhancing educational opportunities; and fostering economic opportunity for African-Americans.

"Our partnerships reflect feedback and ideas that we received from employees, customers and community organizations, including many leaders in the African-American community," said Wachovia Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ken Thompson. "We believe that these special efforts, combined with our high level of ongoing community support, demonstrate Wachovia's strong commitment to serving groups and individuals who have been historically underserved."

The funding announcement comes in the wake of the bank’s disclosure last month that research revealed that two institutions that ultimately became part of Wachovia through acquisitions owned slaves. "On behalf of Wachovia Corporation, I apologize to all Americans, and especially to African-Americans and people of African descent," said Thompson. "We are deeply saddened by these findings."

The organizations identified in the partnerships are the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, the National Humanities Center, the United Negro College Fund, the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, the NAACP, and the National Urban League.


Census Bureau finds black-owned firms growing much faster than national rate

(July 28, 2005) African-Americans, Hispanics, other minority groups and women are increasing their business ownership at a much higher rate than the national average, according to new tabulations titled Preliminary Estimates of Business Ownership by Gender, Hispanic or Latino Origin, and Race: 2002, from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2002 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) released today.

While the number of U.S. businesses increased by 10 percent between 1997 and 2002 to 23 million, the rate of growth for minority- and women-owned businesses was far higher, ranging from 67 percent for native Hawaiian- and other Pacific islander-owned businesses to 20 percent for firms owned by women.

The nation’s 23 million businesses increased their receipts by 22 percent between 1997 and 2002 to reach $22.6 trillion. Increases in receipts ranged from a high of 30 percent for black-owned firms to 5 percent for businesses owned by whites.

Here are some of the highlights from the report:

All U.S. Businesses

- Of the nation’s 23 million businesses in 2002 (which include nearly half a million public corporations, nonprofits, etc.), 5.5 million had paid employees. Receipts for businesses with employees totaled $21.9 trillion, an increase of 22 percent from five years earlier.

- An estimated 17.5 million businesses had no paid employees. Their receipts totaled $767.5 billion, up 19 percent from 1997.

Black-Owned Businesses

- Black-owned businesses are growing four times faster than the national rate and the increase in dollars they take in is also much higher than the national average.

- There were 1.2 million black-owned businesses in 2002, up 45 percent from 1997. Their receipts were $92.7 billion, up 30 percent from 1997.

- An estimated 94,862 black-owned businesses had paid employees and their receipts totaled $69.8 billion or about $735,586 per firm.

- Black-owned businesses with no paid employees numbered 1.1 million, up 51 percent from 1997. They had receipts of $22.9 billion, up 54 percent from 1997. Average receipts of these businesses were $20,761 per firm.

- Thirty-eight percent of black-owned firms operated in the health care and other service industries; health care and retail trade accounted for a fourth of their receipts.

- A fourth of the businesses in Washington, D.C., were black-owned. Black-owned businesses accounted for between 12 and 15 percent of firms in Maryland, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The SBO defines business ownership as having 51 percent or more of the equity, interest or stock in the business. Respondents to the 2002 SBO were asked to report the percent of ownership, gender, Hispanic or non-Hispanic origin and race for up to three primary owners (Hispanics may be of any race).

Separate reports for minority- and women-owned businesses will be issued over the next year and will include more detailed data on the number of firms, sales and receipts, number of paid employees and annual payroll. Data also will be presented by geographic area, industry and size of business. Subsequently, a separate publication will be issued highlighting characteristics of all business owners including non-majority owners.

Click here for more results from the Census Bureau

Community leaders, TV execs air opposition to proposed ratings legislation

(July 25, 2005) Several notable African American community leaders and television executives led by Rev. Jesse Jackson today cautioned the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that legislation requiring mandated accreditation of television ratings would harm audiences of color.

The letter was a
ddressed to Senators Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman and vice chairman, respectively of the Committee on Commerce, Science and  Transportation. "Last week, Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) introduced S. 1372, the so-called 'FAIR Ratings Act,'"  wrote the signers of the letter. "This harmful legislation would seriously disadvantage television programmers, businesses, advertisers and audiences of color.  We are disappointed that Senator Burns has introduced this bill because it will harm the audiences of color."

Other signatories to the letter were Dorothy Height, Chair, Executive Committee, National Council of Negro Women; Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, Debra Lee, President and COO, BET; Johnathan Rodgers, President and CEO, TV One; Don Jackson, Chairman and CEO Central City Productions, Inc.; Byron Lewis, Chairman and CEO, Uniworld Group; and independent filmmaker Warrington Hudlin.

The leaders affirmed their support for the introduction of advanced ratings systems. Moreover, they warned that government regulation “would make it nearly impossible to make improvements in TV ratings technology, and would make it harder to more accurately measure people of color and other television audiences.”

“The current attempt by some broadcasters to subject Nielsen to government control by turning the Media Rating Council – the voluntary industry association that accredits TV ratings – into a virtual regulatory body would inject the government into an area that the industry has always successfully handled on its own," the letter noted. "The Bill would make it nearly impossible to make improvements in TV ratings technology, and would make it harder to more accurately measure people of color and other television audiences."

The letter’s authors added that they were “greatly dismayed that some corporate interests in the media business, who have rarely if ever shown particular sensitivity to fair representation of people of color, are attacking Nielsen and pursuing legislation to keep more advanced technology out of the market.”  What is more, they urged both houses of Congress to oppose the legislation because of its potential harm to ethnic communities.

The full letter can be read by clicking here


Chrysler gives $15,000 to NAMME fellowship program to develop minority media execs

(July 14, 2005)
Chrysler Group has announced a new partnership with the National Association of Minority Media Executives (NAMME) as part of its Leadership in Diversity and Communications (LIDAC) fellowship program. The announcement was made during NAMME's 15th Annual Conference that took place July 12-14 in Chicago.

The fellowship comes under the auspices of Chrysler Group's newly created LIDAC fellowship program, which provides diversity and communications training to seasoned communications professionals to increase the number of minority communications executives and owners. The first fellowship was announced earlier this year in partnership with the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters (NABOB).

"LIDAC was created to offer competitive training and mentoring resources for people of color to help increase their representation in executive management and ownership in the media industry," said Jason Vines, Chrysler Group, Vice President - Corporate Communications. "For 15 years, NAMME has been at the forefront of providing this valuable training to minority media executives. Chrysler Group is proud to partner with this visionary organization to ensure that this opportunity continues."

Chrysler Group LIDAC Fellowships will be offered under NAMME's Leadership Development Institute (LDI), which is managed by the NAMME Foundation. LDI is a three-day, hands-on program for new and middle managers of color in which participants sharpen their leadership skills, learn how to develop their careers, and successfully contribute to the goals of their organizations. Through group interaction and discussion, the participants also share their experiences of trying to achieve personal and professional goals in a race- sensitive society.

"People of color should be represented in boardrooms as well as top ranks of senior management in news rooms and every media department throughout the industry," said Toni Laws, Executive Director of the National Association of Minority Media Executives (NAMME). "Our partnership with the Chrysler Group will help us prepare more media leaders for the future."

NAACP releases report cards measuring progress in five industries, 55 companies

NAACP's LogoBy Erin Texeira
Associated Press
(July 12, 2005) Corporations operating in America seem to be stagnating when it comes to improving racial diversity, the NAACP said yesterday as it released report cards that measured 55 companies on their efforts.

Most companies' rankings were virtually the same as last year, an indication that some businesses were not making much effort to improve, said Dennis C. Hayes, interim president of the NAACP.

"The opportunities for African Americans to participate in this American dream depend on all of us being included," Hayes said.

The report cards were released during the annual convention of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a six-day event that ends Thursday.

The companies included were in the telecommunications, lodging, finance, retail and auto industries. They self-reported their work with blacks in employment, charitable giving, advertising, contracting and community service.

Taken together, four industries got a C grade. Retail got a D, largely because five of the 11 companies examined did not respond to the NAACP's request for information. Those companies received F's.

NAACP officials said that, in the future, the civil-rights group might organize boycotts of companies that did not supply diversity information.

"We will no longer allow folks to just ignore this," said Nelson Rivers, chief operating officer for the NAACP. "It really is outrageous."

BellSouth Corp. received the highest rank of all the companies, a 3.3 out of a possible four points. Blacks are well-represented in its workforce, including managers and board members, the NAACP report shows.

"We believe we have to go to many places to find talent - we don't limit ourselves," said Valencia I. Adams, vice president of diversity at BellSouth Corp., based in Atlanta. "Once we bring [minorities] in, it's our belief that we have to provide a culture and environment for them to flourish and grow."

Among the companies that responded, Mitsubishi Motors North America got the lowest rank, a 1.18. The NAACP report said that the U.S. branch of the Japanese automaker had many of its black employees doing either clerical or administrative work. There were no blacks on the board of directors or in recruiting, and the company has spent no money advertising with black media, the report said.

Mitsubishi spokesman Dan Irvin said that he could not comment on the ranking because he had not seen the NAACP report, but that 40 percent of his company's charitable giving goes to the black community.

Mitsubishi "is absolutely committed to diversity," Irvin said.

The NAACP began compiling the report cards in 1996, when it probed the hotel industry for diversity issues after complaints that blacks received unfair treatment. Next year, they may add categories, such as oil and gas, Rivers said.
Click here to read full report cards on NAACP site

Publisher in Grand Rapids files federal lawsuit against 'token advertising'

By Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
The Grand Rapids Press
(July 5, 2005) Robert LaDew, director of the Community Empowerment Center and publisher of Equality Magazine, has filed a federal lawsuit against Grand Rapids Community College, alleging it did not buy advertising in his publication.

The suit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, asserts that LaDew has been soliciting advertising from GRCC for about four years and has expressed concerns to administrators that the lack of advertising has had a damaging effect on the black community his free, monthly publication serves.

In the suit, LaDew alleges GRCC's advertising policy is "arbitrary, capricious and was established for the purpose of excluding Equality Magazine from the privileges and benefits of Grand Rapids Community College advertising." The suit also alleges GRCC has "paid black publications less than white publications and Hispanic publications."

The college recently sponsored the Grand Rapids African American Health Expo, which LaDew promotes, but he said it was the only advertising support he has received from the college in more than a year.

"Token advertising doesn't mean anything," LaDew said. He said GRCC should advertise in his publication because not doing so is discriminatory to the black community.

"If you receive federal money, you can't discriminate," LaDew said. "They have an obligation to advertise in the biggest African-American publication."

Grand Rapids Community College administrators would not comment on the lawsuit.

This is not the first time LaDew has sued a public institution for not advertising in his publication. He sued the Grand Rapids Public Library Board of Commissioners for not adversiting and got $14,000 to settle a similar lawsuit in 2003.



After two year legal battle DaimlerChrysler settles racial discrimination lawsuit



Detroit Free Press
(June 28, 2005) After more than two years of litigation, which resulted in a boycott of its cars and trucks, DaimlerChrysler AG has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a group of African-American and Hispanic customers in the Chicago area who alleged the automaker discriminated against their credit applications.

Separately, the automaker also agreed to settle another racial-discrimination case filed in a federal court in New Jersey in 2000, which also alleged unfair auto lending practices.

The pending settlements -- which the automaker confirmed Tuesday -- are subject to approval by federal judges and would require DaimlerChrysler to spend at least $3.5 million to train its employees and sponsor educational programs in minority communities. Seven loan applicants may get a small amount of compensation.

The automaker's Farmington Hills, Mich.-based lending arm, DaimlerChrysler Services North America, has agreed to spend $1.7 million in the Chicago case and another $1.8 million in the New Jersey case. The New Jersey case also limits the extra amount dealers could mark up interest rates on car loans through DaimlerChrysler Services.

Combined, the settlements dwarf General Motors Acceptance Corp.'s agreement in February 2004 to contribute $1.6 million to educate minority customers about auto financing. That deal stemmed from a class-action lawsuit charging racial bias in lending policies. The settlement also established limits on how much the automaker could increase interest rates on loans.

If approved, the two settlements agreed to by DaimlerChrysler would begin to mend the automaker's image in the minority community and help end what has become a politically and racially charged image problem in Chicago.

In 2003, former Chrysler dealer Gerald Gorman and some of his Chicago-area customers filed two separate lawsuits against DaimlerChrysler. They alleged the company wouldn't give loans or fair interest rates to customers at Gorman's two dealerships because they were located in neighborhoods with many minorities.

According to the lawsuits, DaimlerChrysler executives allegedly explained their reasons with racist language and used the company's computer software to slow down or turn off automatic access to loans at the dealerships.

DaimlerChrysler has insisted that it does not tolerate racism or discrimination. But Gorman alleged the practice ruined his business, while his customers said the practice was discriminatory.

The lawsuits generated substantial public relations troubles for DaimlerChrysler in the Chicago area, largely because sworn testimony by DaimlerChrysler employees revealed that more than one company official made discriminatory remarks about African Americans.

Gorman's case is still pending in federal court. However, a court official concluded that Gorman lied under oath in the case and has recommended that the judge presiding over that matter dismiss the case.

A set of lawsuits, similar to the ones filed by Gorman and his customers, were filed in Texas by former Chrysler dealer Rick Perez and his customers in 2003. DaimlerChrysler settled claims of Perez and his customers out of court last fall, and the terms were not disclosed.

While the automaker admits no fault in the proposed settlements, DaimlerChrysler agrees in the Chicago agreement to not use its computerized credit approval system "for any reason other than reasonable business considerations, which do not involve the racial identity of customers."

DaimlerChrysler agrees to use "facially neutral underwriting criteria" when reviewing credit applications and "will prohibit any movement of an application from a higher to a lower credit tier for any reason unrelated to the creditworthiness of the customer," the proposed settlement says.

The settlement also calls for the lawsuit to be certified as a class-action case and would cover all African-American and Hispanic customers who applied for credit at DaimlerChrysler Services through a dealership between Jan. 1, 1990, and the date of the settlement.

The proposed settlement class in the New Jersey class covers customers who entered into a contract with DaimlerChrysler Services during the same period of time.

However, only the seven named plaintiffs in the Chicago case would be eligible for financial relief and that would be capped at $2,000.

The settlement agreed upon by the automakers and lawyers for the plaintiffs stipulates that DaimlerChrysler:

• 
Spend $950,000 to train its employees on diversity issues and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

• 
Give $500,000 to nonprofit minority organizations focused on African Americans and Hispanics to educate consumers about automotive financing.

• 
Spend $250,000 to print and distribute about 1 million Spanish and English brochures on "Understanding Vehicle Financing" to minority organizations, and

• 
Establish a diversity panel to combat discrimination and examine the auto financing needs of minorities.

"It was a shame I had to lose my business for Chrysler to change the way they're doing business," Gorman said of the settlement with his customers. Attorney Chris O'Hara, who represents both Gorman and his customers, could not be reached for comment.

James Ryan, a spokesman for DaimlerChrysler, said he could not comment on the agreement.

This case seems to stand apart from several other lawsuits in recent years that alleged discrimination in auto lending and the one DaimlerChrysler agreed to settle in New Jersey.

Most of those lawsuits alleged that dealerships were discriminating against minorities by charging them higher interest rates for their auto loans. They did not allege that executives used racist language or took overtly discriminatory actions -- as the Chicago case did.


Black Enterprise publisher urges African-Americans to not vacation in Mexico

(May 23, 2005) Earl G. Graves, publisher of Black Enterprise magazine said he's urging African-Americans to take their vacation business out of Mexico in response to comments by President Vicente Fox that Mexican immigrants take jobs in the U.S. that "not even" blacks want.

"I don't think it was insensitive; it was racist," said Graves (above) in a recent interview in the Dallas Morning News. Black Enterprise held its tenth annual Entrepreneurs Conference in Dallas last week. In his opening remarks at the conference Thursday morning, Graves told some 1,500 attendees that African-American consumers were being disrespected by President Fox's comments. "We want to create some sensitivity in terms of the African American market and respect for us as citizens."

On Sunday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson aired a radio interview he conducted with President Fox that was taped during his Wednesday face-to-face meeting in Mexico. During the interview, Jackson pressed Fox for an apology to African-Americans, but he declined, saying that his earlier response to the criticism should be a clear demonstration of his intent.

"My government has proven its high commitment to human rights," said Fox, adding that he is eager to work with minority groups in the United States to improve labor conditions.

"That's why I feel so well in my conscience and well in my position: Because I am a passionate defender of human rights and integration of minorities and full respect to every person in his aspirations," Fox said. "My comment was fully oriented in that direction."

The Rev. Al Sharpton is in Mexico today for a meeting with President Fox, and the civil rights activist said that he will insist on an apology. "I don't think we've heard a formal apology from him," Sharpton told the Associated Press. "I think we've heard some regrets. I think we need an unequivocal apology. This was an unequivocal insult."

Black workers fared better than whites and Hispanics in weekly wages over past two years

(May 2, 2005) According to a new study, black workers fared better than whites or Hispanics in the ebb and flow of real median weekly earnings for the past two years. The finding is contained in a new report from the Pew Hispanic Center which analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics and the  Census Bureau data.

In 2003 black workers wages rose 1.3 percent and white workers saw an increase of nine-tenths of one percent. Hispanic workers, however, had a decline of 2.2 percent in wages. Asian workers has an increase of 1.7 percent.

For 2004, blacks saw a decline in wages of one percent, while whites registered a decline of almost two percent. Hispanics' wages decreased by 2.6 percent, the only group of workers to have two consecutive years of declining wages. Asian workers posted an increase of 1.2 percent.

"Despite strong demand for immigrant workers, their growing supply and concentration in certain occupations suggests that the newest arrivals are competing with each other in the labor market to their own detriment," said the report's author, Rakesh Kochhar, a senior research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center.

The vast majority of new jobs for Hispanic workers were in relatively low-skill occupations calling for little other than a high school education. In contrast, non-Hispanic workers secured large increases in employment in higher-skill occupations requiring at least some college education.

"Hispanics and whites, the two largest groups of workers in the economy, are finding new jobs in such different occupations that they appear to be on separate paths in the labor market," said Kochhar, a veteran labor economist.

Click here to read entire Pew Hispanic Center report


Glover Park Group says it created anti-Nielsen campaign for Fox's News Corp.

(April 25, 2005) From the time that Nielsen Media Research announced plans to introduce Local People Meters almost two years ago, it has had to counter the criticism of a lobbying group called Don't Count Us Out which claimed the new technology misrepresented black and Hispanic viewership. Nielsen officials charged that the Fox network, which saw ratings declines for its black-oriented programming with the LPMs, was behind the group's formation and operation.

DCOU at first denied allegations that it received financial backing from the Fox network or News Corp., its parent company. Later it said that News Corp. was just one of its contributors. Now another lobbying organization has disclosed on its Web site that it created Don't Count Us Out for its client, News Corp.

A recent statement released by Nielsen said, "
The Glover Park Group is admitting for the first time that it created, organized and directed the activities of the Don't Count Us Out organization at the behest of News Corp. Don't Count Us Out has always maintained that it was an independent group of community activists. However, this admission, which is found on Glover Park's own website as a "case study" to attract more clients, clearly shows that it was always acting to advance the corporate interests of News Corp. and its TV stations, which experienced lower ratings after Nielsen replaced paper diaries with more accurate electronic Local People Meters in major television markets.

"Glover Park Group also admitted directing a campaign to disrupt Nielsen's operations in which "calls and e-mails were targeted at Nielsen executives, shutting down their corporate switchboard."

"Glover Park does not describe what incentives were used to 'enlist' members to the Don't Count Us Out coalition.

"Glover Park does admit, however, to implementing a "legislative strategy ... targeting key Senators and Congressmen." Glover Park also maintains that the Senate Commerce Committee is considering legislation that would regulate the ratings business when, in fact, no such legislation is pending."

The text of the language on the Glover Park Group site, is as follows:

"Nielsen Media Research was set to launch a controversial new television rating system. Strong evidence suggested that the new system could undercount African Americans and Hispanics, as well as younger viewers -- and in doing so, severely penalize networks like FOX and UPN that tailor their content to these audiences. FOX parent-company Newscorp turned to the Glover Park Group to devise a campaign to fight back. GPG enlisted community activists and organizations across the country in the Don't Count Us Out coalition. The coalition launched a grassroots campaign, including public protests and rallies; television, radio and print ads were run in both in affected markets and inside the Beltway; calls and e-mails were targeted at Nielsen executives, shutting down their corporate switchboard; and a legislative strategy was implemented targeting key Senators and Congressmen. As a result, Nielsen was forced to delay the roll out of the new system in New York City and currently the Senate Commerce Committee is considering legislation that would, for the first time, mandate government regulation of the Nielsen monopoly."

The full text of the Glover statement can be found at www.gloverparkgroup.com/content. It can also be found on the Nielsen sponsored site, everyonecounts.tv/news/0422_dcuo.htm

Report finds pattern of blunders by Edu. Dept., Ketchum in Armstrong Williams case

By Ben Feller
Associated Press

(April 19, 2005) The Bush administration's hiring of a pundit to tout its education agenda was not illegal or unethical, but it was a poor decision and continued even after concerns were raised to the White House, an internal investigation found.

The report by the Education Department's inspector general cited a pattern of blunders that led to the $240,000 contract with conservative commentator Armstrong Williams (above).

Senior officials showed poor management, information didn't get to the right people and the agency paid for work that was poorly produced, Inspector General Jack Higgins said.

The department approved $240,000 for Williams, a commentator with newspaper, television and radio audiences, to promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind law. The deal was part of a $1.3 million contract the department had with Ketchum, a public relations firm.

Williams, who is black, was hired to inform minorities about Bush's law by producing ads with then-Education Secretary Rod Paige. Yet, records show Williams also was hired to provide media time to Paige and to persuade other blacks in the media to talk about the law.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings acknowledged "serious lapses in judgment by senior department officials" but said those directly responsible are no longer at the agency. She pledged to adopt the report's recommendations and restore credibility to the department.

"It think this was wrong," said Spellings, who took office in January. "I think it was stupid. I think it was ill-advised. I think it showed a lack of judgment."

Paige, who was secretary when the contract was signed, did not reply to a telephone message Friday seeking comment.

The report also said two Education Department officials had warned the White House last summer about concerns, including the "inherent conflict" of paying a pundit to endorse the president's education law.

David Dunn, then-special assistant to the president for domestic policy, agreed with the concerns, yet neither the White House nor the department halted the contract until it was disclosed by the news media in January. Dunn is now chief of staff to Spellings, who distanced the White House from any blame for the hiring of Williams.

The episode has proved embarrassing for the administration, which has paid at least two other conservative columnists to promote its agenda and has been criticized for distributing news videos that don't make clear they were produced by the government.

Bush has said the hiring of Williams was wrong and that the White House did not know in advance that a pundit had been hired. Spellings said Friday that description is true.

The inspector general's review dealt only with contract law not whether the administration has violated a ban on covert propaganda. That is the subject of a review by congressional investigators at the Government Accountability Office.

"The report paints a picture of a Bush administration that is sloppy and careless with taxpayer funds," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., added: "I commend the secretary for taking this issue seriously. Whether this activity is legal or not, it is just wrong for the administration to use taxpayer dollars for self-serving propaganda."

Williams approached Paige about doing work for the department. His company was hired through Ketchum in late 2003 at the direction of the department despite some internal divisions about whether it was a good idea. Those divisions grew deeper.

When Williams' contract came up for renewal in May 2004, Paige's chief of staff and the department's deputy director of communications raised concerns about whether money was being spent wisely and whether there was a conflict in hiring a commentator. The concerns were so strong, the report said, that Dunn was told about them at the White House, and he agreed.

Asked Friday why the contract was not stopped at that point, Spellings defended Dunn. She said the White House assumes that the people hired to run federal agencies do so properly.

The inspector general's report is available at: http://wid.ap.org/documents/education/050415oig.pdf


 








































































































































































































July 6-7, 2005
Wyndham Hotel
Downtown Chicago


The sixth annual event examining the latest trends, findings and practices in marketing to African-American consumers

Plan now to attend one of the industry's most anxiously awaited annual events. This is the most comprehensive and accessible conference on African-American consumer research. It is the ideal environment to explore new trends and business opportunities. Share information and insights with top executives and decision makers.
 
Registration for the Summit typically reaches "sold-out" capacity. You'll want to reserve your place as soon as possible. Stay in one of Chicago's most luxurious hotels and enjoy the city's spectacular summer attractions.

Click here for more information


 
11th Annual Edition Available

'Buying Power' report reveals surge by black households for consumer electronics

Despite tighter economic times, African-American households are significantly increasing their expenditures on consumer electronics for the home, according to the newest edition of The Buying Power of Black America report. In many categories such as video games, televisions, CD players, cable TV service and sound equipment, black households are spending more on average than their white counterparts.

According to the 103-page report, black households had $656 billion in earned income in 2003, an increase of 3.9% over the $631 earned in 2002.

Read more and see the latest expenditure figures for black consumers


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Amalgamated Publishers, Inc.
American Urban Radio
   Network
Allen and Partners
Arbitron Inc.
BET
Burrell
E. Morris Communications
Hunter-Miller Group
Insights Marketing Group
Johnson Publishing Co.
M. Davis & Co.
Nielsen Media Research
NSights Worldwide
R.J. Dale Advertising
Starcom Worldwide
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UniWorld Group
U.S. Dept. of Commerce
Wimbley Group

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