The race for the 2016 presidential election is in full force and picking up steam as the calendars come closer to turning from 2015. Since early May, Democratic and Republican nominees have been touring the 50 states, working to gather support. A lot of this support comes from the efforts and endorsement of the local press. The sector of the local press often forgotten is the Black and Latino or the minority press.
Journalists from the Denver Urban Spectrum and numerous other members of Denver’s minority press met last month with Karen Finney, strategic communications adviser and senior spokesperson for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The overall feel of the meeting was a bit rasping at points as frustration with past campaigns has left many in the minority press out of the media loop.
“Who and what will be done to make sure that minority media is credentialed and is a priority item in the budget? We have to struggle to attend events, major events; we’re an afterthought. I was counting on getting a commitment today that we will be a priority consideration for advertising and we will be a priority group for credentials,” explained Dr. Syl Morgan-Smith, a longtime community leader.
Many members were upset and tired of promoting a candidate, whipping the votes in their selective communities and not being recognized for doing such. The recognition that is desired is specifically a seat at the metaphorical news table. Minority press leaders are requesting media credentials for events and interviews with the specific candidates.
“What I can tell you is it’s important to me, it’s important to me as someone who has been on both sides (media and campaign)…The amount of dollars just have not been there and they get spent late in the game,” Finney replied. She continued, “So we’ll commit in terms of credentials, absolutely. In terms of spending dollars, I can say that it’s something we’re planning to do. I can’t tell you when and where and how much at this point but I absolutely take back to the campaign what I hear from these conversations. I didn’t know credentials were an issue, so that is something that I’ll make sure that our people are aware of.”
Local minority news outlets feel that their publications and the communities that they serve are often not cared for after the election season.
Founder and publisher of the African American Voice Newspaper, James Tucker, said, “I am mainly concerned with, ‘what is her action plan?’ because it seems like we are doing the same cycle over and over again. You don’t see political people until its election time. And as a result of that, what are you actually planning to do for the Black press?”
Finney said, “I know people come every cycle and say the same thing. I do know that; I can’t change that. I can’t change what has happened in the past, I can only try to change how we move forward in this campaign.”
The majority of the media present could not agree more that their publications do so much to help the elected officials only to fall by the way side once the campaign is lost or won.
Finney also discussed Clinton’s campaign agendas such as criminal justice reform, lowering college tuition and energy reform – three topics that pertain precisely to young Americans between the early voting ages 18-25.
Finney detailed a recent campaign speech Clinton delivered at Clark Atlanta University. “She talked about criminal justice reform, and one of the leading topics was body cameras so expanding on what President Obama had announced; also sentencing reforms. So she has meet with young people from Black Lives Matter. At the speech at Clark Atlanta she spoke about ending federal funding of privately-owned prisons and to change the discrepancy between crack and powdered cocaine.”
She added, “She (Clinton) was just endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters this week for her climate change proposal. She’s also talked about it. In terms of global climate change, she has set goals for the percentage of renewable energy that she would want to see the country using by 2025.”
Recent police altercations and protests spanning the nation are driving much of the Black and minority vote this upcoming presidential election. But the Black and minority voters should pay special attention to their very own local elections. Much of the very issues and laws directly affect our everyday way of living.
Overall, it is healthy for a representative from the campaign to have met and to continue to meet with the minority local press. But one face-to-face meeting won’t cut it fully. Allowing credentials for campaign events, at minimum, is a test to gauge this campaign’s seriousness about issues facing the minority community.
Smith said, “We’re here and we are trying to support her, but she has to support us.”