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Political campaigns use black newspaper ads to reach critical African-American voters

(February 22, 2016) In one of the nation's tightest, most unpredictable and consequential election seasons ever, presidential candidates have placed gaining the votes of African-Americans among their highest priorities. As a result Black media, and in particular The Black Press, have become central to the strategies of both Democratic campaigns.

With neck-and-neck results in the early Democratic primaries and caucuses, the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns begin focusing on states with large African-American populations. Unlike previous national elections, where candidates were criticized for taking the black vote for granted, the two Democratic contenders for the White House are openly battling each other for African-American support at every turn.

The National Newspaper Publisher Association, which represents 200 Black newspapers, is reporting that the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have each made plans for significant ad buys with its member papers. Currently there are placements scheduled for 37 of the NNPA papers, representing a combined circulation of approximately one million readers.

With March approaching, the campaigns are moving into a number of southern states -- including South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Florida and Tennessee -- where Black turn out and votes will likely determine victory.

The Sanders campaign is running 1/4 page Black & White ad in NNPA papers, while the Clinton camp is placing 1/2 page color messages. NNPA would not disclose the amount spent thus far by the candidates, but industry insiders and media trackers estimate that a quarter of a million may have been spent with The Black Press so far.

By the time the Democratic primaries move to northern states and towards the final contests in June, spending for ads in Black newspapers alone could grow to $700,000, say experts.

NNPA officials say that one reason they are having more success with soliciting political ads this season is the organization's ability to provide one-stop shopping and to provide the campaigns with the opportunity to buy Black media through Black media.

The Democrats are not the only ones using The Black Press to get their messages out. NNPA is also receiving ads from GOP candidate Ben Carson, as well as the Republican National Committee, both of whom see African-Americans as vital to growing their support base.


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