My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘Editorial’

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Census Bureau, GlobalHue, and NNPA should all be held accountable…

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

On March 12, allegations surfaced that GlobalHue (the agency hired by the government to coordinate the 2010 Census advertising campaign for minority-focused media organizations) required that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (a coalition of African-American newspapers that GlobalHue purchased Census Bureau advertising space from) would each write a series of six articles and two editorials about the 2010 Census. If the already struggling newspapers didn’t publish the articles and editorials, they were in jeopardy of losing these vital advertising dollars. To make this concept more abstract, this is an example of government-supported coercion, as trading editorial content for money leads to the spreading of pro-government propaganda, a system that has no place within American democracy or the American media.

Angela Spencer Ford, a representative of GlobalHue said, “With regard to added value from the Black newspapers, in a proposal dated 12/31/2009, the NNPA recommended that GlobalHue request participating Black newspapers promise the following:

“In lieu of free advertising added value, I recommend we ask all participating newspapers to promise to run, during the paid advertising campaign, at least 6 news articles and 2 editorials stressing the important of completing the 2010 Census. African American/Black readers believe in the Black Press. African American/Black readers have been guided by and represented by the Black Press for more than 100 years. The combination of paid advertising and the Black Press endorsement will have great success in increasing the completion ratio.”

GlobalHue accepted the NNPA’s added-value recommendations and issued insertion orders to all newspapers accordingly.  The added value guidelines as recommended by the NNPA led to concerns by a few representatives of the Black newspaper community.”

Though it is necessary to state that individual black newspapers were not responsible for the ad choices that the NNPA made, it is completely unethical that Danny Bakewell, publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel and head of the NNPA, was complicit in these actions. He should now be held accountable for putting finances above journalistic integrity.

Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner responded, “The National Newspapers Publishers Association (NNPA) was actually hired by DFCB [the lead advertising agency for the 2010 Census] and the Census Bureau last year to handle Black/African American newspaper media buys.  The request for their members to provide the Census Bureau with added value originated with NNPA, which was paid $195,000 as one of the two contracted media buyers for the Black audience.  In fact, all of the more than 3,800 media outlets selected in the 2010 Census advertising buy were asked to provide added value, which is a standard industry practice.”

At no point does Buckner consider the difference between “added value” and paid editorial content.

Sadly, this situation is not unique. Ten years ago, a Salon.com investigative report led to the discovery that the White House was covertly financing anti-drug messages that appeared on all of the major television networks. As Daniel Forbes reported in 2001, “Two years ago, Congress inadvertently created an enormous financial incentive for TV programmers to push anti-drug messages in their plots — as much as $25 million in the past year and a half, with the promise of even more to come in the future. Under the sway of the office of President Clinton’s drug czar, Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, some of America’s most popular shows — including “ER,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Chicago Hope,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “7th Heaven” — have filled their episodes with anti-drug pitches to cash in on a complex government advertising subsidy.”

That the Census Bureau had no qualms in permitting similar actions, albeit not reaching as large of an audience as those who were affected by the 2000 scandal, is both ludicrous and deceptive. In this instance, the Census Bureau has not only refused to admit wrongdoing in this situation; Buckner even attempted to justify these actions. Those who should be most upset about this situation are the readers of black newspapers. Unfortunately, these individuals are most likely unaware that the content they are reading is influenced by goals of the US Census Bureau and GlobalHue, as well as the financial interests of the NNPA.

While the overall message that the black newspapers are sending when they publish articles that promote the 2010 Census is good, because the organizations are bound to an advertising/editorial content contract, it is unlikely that they will be able to cover any problems with the 2010 Census – ranging from vague employee hiring practices to mailings not reaching the proper addresses to poor turnouts at Census Bureau sponsored events. The failure of the black press to report on the negative aspects of 2010 Census operations is detrimental not only to each publication’s credibility, but to the role of journalism in American democracy as a whole.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Keep Up The Good Work Dr. Groves!

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

At Dr. Robert M. Groves’ confirmation hearing to become the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, it was reassuring to hear a career statistician and manager discuss his vision for a Bureau that was in great need of reform. However, at that time it was only natural to worry that Groves was simply a man of words who needed to get past what could have been a controversial confirmation process. Four months after making many promises to change the Bureau, Dr. Groves has proven that he follows through with actions.

Despite GOP partisans stalling Dr. Groves’ nomination over concerns that he would bring his political views to the 2010 Census, Dr. Groves’ has proven to a level-headed, fair, honest, transparent, and decisive leader. As he stated yesterday at his first major press conference, he is constantly trying to be persuaded to enter the political fray but fights every day to maintain his independence. Dr. Groves’ rejection of political overtures is what will make his tenure different than those of past Census Bureau leaders.

An excellent Census Bureau director must have superior statistical knowledge, superb management skills, and an ability to answer honestly to both politicians and the public. In his first months in this role, Dr. Groves has succeeded in all of these areas. With his decision to terminate the Census Bureau’s partnership with ACORN, Dr. Groves unequivocally proved himself as a leader who put the Bureau and the people of this nation ahead of the Democrats who supported him from day one and the president who nominated him.

Dr. Groves inherited a Census Bureau that was filled with disorganization, mismanagement, and a lack of foresight. Turning this agency around cannot occur overnight, and MyTwoCensus does not place blame on on Dr. Groves for most failures of the 2010 Census. Though his first 70 days in office have been marked by success and progress, there is still much work to be done with April 1, 2010 only six months away.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Challenges ahead for Robert Groves

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

MyTwoCensus has obtained Census-director-to-be Robert Groves’ pre-Senate hearing questions and answers. We urge our readers to carefully review these documents.

Overall, MyTwoCensus is pleased with the selection of Mr. Groves as President Obama’s nominee for Census Director. In particular, we are glad that he plans to focus significant efforts on recruiting highly qualified individuals to join the Census Bureau. However, our main concern about Mr. Groves is not over his ability to remain non-partisan (we are confident that he will stay true to his word). Rather, we are worried that Groves will have difficulty cleaning up the mess that has been made of the Census Bureau in time for the 2010 Census. With antiquated procedures, failing technology and incompetent beaurocrats awaiting him, Groves faces significant challenges that will be extremely difficult to overcome before the decennial headcount. While Groves is an accomplished academic and has successfully managed smaller operations, we are yet to see him prove himself on such a grand scale of leadership as he must do in the very near future. With 12,000 permanent employees and 1.4 million temporary workers  joining  the Census Bureau’s team for the 2010 count, Robert Groves must carefully preside over his agency and put politics and public relations aside by holding all individuals accountable for their actions.