Black media organizations face stark inequities in advertising dollars from political campaigns


Many Twin Cities news outlets feel ignored when it comes to the various campaigns’ voter outreach efforts.

Sheletta Brundidge, a Minnesota media personality, and podcaster, stated that this is not something that’s new or instigated solely by one party. Brundidge recalls that she prepared the church for politicians’ appearances as a 9-year-old in Houston, Texas. Brundidge felt something odd at the time, but couldn’t pinpoint it.

“As Black people we welcome everyone into our churches. She said that this is exactly what she does.

Brundidge stated that Kathy Whitmire was a mayoral candidate in her church during the 1980s. She won the 1981 election.

She said that she had made all the promises and we didn’t see her again for four years. Then she returned and we cooked and prepared, and she made all those promises again. After four years, we never heard from her again.”

A different landscape with the same theme

Brundidge was reminded of her childhood political memories during this election cycle. She said that her podcasting company Sheletta Makes Me Laugh is not in danger.

Her company, along with other Minnesota ethnic media like the Minnesota Spokesman Recorder and BLCK Press, had not received any of the estimated $145,000,000 in political ad purchases in Minnesota. The total amount was only a drop in the bucket compared to the overall ad spends.

Sahan Journal, which is a news agency that focuses on communities and color, received only one ad buy in the run-up to the August primaries of the Hennepin County lawyer race.

Brundidge contacted the DFL and was told that they could not do anything. She says it isn’t a party issue, but racism.

“The only thing the GOP and DFL can agree upon is that they don’t want to support Black media. She said that while they might not agree with everything, there is one thing they share in common. “Because Democrats have us and don’t care, and Republicans don’t want us around.”

Ken Martin, DFL chairman, disagrees with Brundidge. He stated that in his 12 years of DFL chairmanship, the DFL had made “small but significant investments to ethnic media.”

Martin stated that the DFL had invested $50,000 in the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium this year. This consortium includes media organizations such as Insight News and La Matraca News.

He also stated that $40,000 was given to NewPublica. This money goes to Spanish-speaking outlets such as Univision Minnesota and Telemundo Minnesota TV. Martin stated that although the $90,000 in advertising dollars given to ethnic media is only a fraction of the $18million raised by the DFL this fiscal year, advertising is not its primary role.

“Minnesota DFL is not the primary advertiser. Martin stated that the major advertising spend is made by individual candidate campaigns.

The Minnesota GOP was not reached.

Brundidge stated that while other news outlets such as WCCO or KSTP get revenue from political ads they do not for Black media organizations.

Instead, politicians have been visiting churches and other communal spaces to get support. Brundidge stated that Mary Moriarty, Keith Ellison and other candidates visited her church last Wednesday.

Tracey Williams Dillard, CEO and publisher at the Minnesota Spokesman Recorder, stated that the Minnesota Spokesman Recorder has not been able to receive any ad purchases.

Williams-Dillard stated that it was reasonable to assume that anyone trying to reach the Black Community politically or in any other way would use vehicles the Black community trusts to obtain their information.

Since 1934, the Spokesman-Recorder is a reliable source of information for Minnesota’s Black communities. Williams-Dillard stated that its readers include “decision makers and influencers as well as an educated and wealthy audience.”

“It seems that they are not interested in this audience. This is the message I hear. Williams-Dillard stated that if you don’t speak to me, then you aren’t interested in me as an individual or as a community. “A lot would be our audience would have to be the voters.”

Many campaigns, however, treat media outlets that cater to predominantly white audiences differently.

“Y’all (campaigns), don’t want an investment in Black media for Black voters. White churches are not the ones Y’all do this to. You won’t ask people to vote for your cause if you don’t show up at the white church every Sunday for a period of two months. White voters are more strategic if you’re strategist. Brundidge explained that you hire an ad agency and place media buys with iHeartRadio, KARE11, and WCCO. You make sure that white voters see your ads, but Black voters don’t have to spend a nickel. Brundidge said, “You walk up to the churches on Sunday and ask the congregation to vote for your candidate.”

Brundidge stated that this is inequity.

She said, “Why don’t you invest in Black media the same way as you do in white media if the Black voter matters just as much to you as a White voter?” It wasn’t because they loved us or cared about us. They’re not buying advertising, but they are bypassing Black media.

Brundidge requests

Brundidge decided that he would reach out to pastors to get them united to end the church campaigning. Many of them, including the Rev. Charles Gill of Pilgrim Church in St. Paul, and the Rev. Brian Herron, of Zion Baptist Church Minneapolis, and the Rev. Steve Daniels, Jr., from Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, St. Paul, were open to her suggestions and began taking action, she stated.

Rev. Charles Gill

This has been happening for many generations. This isn’t a new concept. Brundidge stated that it’s cultural and doesn’t stop there.

Brundidge explained to Brundidge how the stance was affecting her business. She agreed that reverends should take a different stance.

“They called me and asked the same questions. ‘So tell us how this is going to impact your business.’ I won’t have a company; I won’t be able stay in business. I won’t have enough money to feed my children and send them to college. Brundidge stated that if they keep letting these people into my house for free, then they won’t need to advertise to reach Black people.”

Alliance for a Better Minnesota announced Wednesday that it will be launching a statewide ad buy for BIPOC media outlets.

Rev. Rev. Brian Herron

“If the churches hadn’t supported our effort, this wouldn’t have happened. These politicians depend on being able to reach Black congregations on Sunday mornings and promoting their message to them, telling them to vote. Brundidge stated that those pastors stood beside me and asked, “Are you supporting Black Media And if not, can you come in here?”

Brundidge, Williams-Dillard both stated that the ad purchase was a result of the community’s desire to spend diversely. It is however not nearly as much as what other news agencies are receiving.

Rev. Rev.

“Unfortunately, it took that advocacy to get that response. Williams-Dillard stated that she believes this should have been done automatically from the beginning. When you plan on a budget that speaks directly to all people, everyone should be included in your initial conversation about the ad purchase. You shouldn’t have to address it because someone is calling you.

These ads support Democratic candidates such as Gov. The ads were distributed to outlets such as Univision, Minnesota Spokesman Recorder, North News, and Sheletta Makes Me Laugh podcasts.

According to Marissa Luna (executive director of Alliance for a Better Minnesota), the total amount is in the five-figures range. Luna explained that the funding stream is a mixture of existing funds and a recent batch of funding.

Luna answered questions about the timing of the ads-buys and how it aligned with Brundidge’s advocacy.

Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder was able to get an ad purchase of $1,800. This is a small ad buy that Williams-Dillard described as “insignificant in the bigger picture.” Brundidge, who is receiving $3,600 in podcast advertising, shares the same sentiment.

“It’s nothing. It’s crumbs. This is what we are getting. Brundidge stated that we are getting the leftovers. Brundidge said that although this victory isn’t necessarily a financial win it’s a breakthrough and a significant shift. They won’t be able go to those marketing meetings with the ad agencies and ignore Black Media.

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