National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell and NNPA President Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis released the following statement on October 3, 2017 about a recent revelation that people with ties to the Kremlin used fake social media accounts and misleading online ads to target Black voters during the 2016 presidential election. The 77-year-old association represents African American-owned newspapers and digital products in the United States and reaches the majority of Black U.S. households.
“As publishers of hundreds of African American-owned newspapers, we are concerned about recent revelations that ‘shadowy forces’ allegedly tied to the Russian government targeted African American voters and consumers through the dissemination of fake news, fake social media accounts and deceptive digital advertising,” Leavell said. “This is one of the reasons why now, more than ever, our readers depend on our publications as their primary source of news and information.
“The Black Press was created 190 years ago to plead our own cause and to counter misinformation and pro-slavery propaganda that kept our people in subjugation and bondage. Our publications have maintained their place as the most trusted source of information to African Americans. The NNPA remains united against these sort of tactics that work to divide our nation rather than remedy the injustices that plague so many of us,” she said.
Chavis, a long-time civil rights champion, added: “The NNPA commends Congress for its investigation into the role social media had in disseminating fake news, propaganda and misinformation during the election. However, as the standard bearers of the Black Press we believe hearings are not enough. We are calling for full transparency in digital advertising and marketing campaigns targeting African-American audiences so our people will not be used politically or otherwise to further agendas not in our own best interests.
“In the wake of the latest onslaught that has fueled anti-Black racism and other forms of bigotry which have stoked racial tensions across the country we intend to use our influence to protect our interests. We seek a meeting with congressional leaders and the White House to discuss this matter,” Chavis said.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is a trade organization of more than 200 African American-owned media properties throughout the United States. Founded in 1940, the NNPA is the largest and most influential Black news and information resource in America. Because of its influence and impact the association serves as ‘the voice’ of more than 13 percent of the U.S. population through news that makes history and impacts our nation.