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OUR VOICES: The Black Press, Business and Public Policy

By Dr. John E. Warren

“We live and serve in changing times, we must also change even as we serve.”

Dr. John E. Warren

The Black Press has existed for 196 years because it understands service to our communities, and the business of how we pay for it is a part of our survival.

A perfect example of how business and public policy come together can be found in the recent notices concerning the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank and its impact on the public’s perception on the safety of small banks around the country.

The President’s statement on the commitment of the Federal Government to all depositors is newsworthy and should be published by all media as a service affecting national confidence. However, the statement by Trade Associations to their membership is done as a matter of business. Trade Associations benefit from the President’s reaffirmation of the government’s policy concerning the nation’s financial system. Because of the importance of Minority Deposit Insurance, which is not necessarily covered to the same extent as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), there exists a greater need to assure public confidence beyond the President’s statement and actions.


Hence, a general letter from an association holding the membership not only of small banks, but also minority banking institutions and their clients, should be a “paid” statement, just as other organizations have done in such papers as USA Today and the New York Times. These are large dailies that have made the distinction between a policy statement by the President and/or an organization’s effort to get a business message to the public and its membership.

The statement from the National Banker Association, which can afford to pay for the distribution of such notices should be doing so as a matter of demonstrating its fiduciary responsibility to the Comptroller of the Currency as the watchdog over all banking.

The NNPA leadership must also come to understand this point so that even as we provide coverage of news items, we still remind people that we are businesses engaged in serving our population, in particular, and the broader public in general. We in the Black media industry must come to understand the difference between a guest commentary and a message that is an advertisement. We live and serve in changing times, we must also change even as we serve.

Dr. John E. Warren is publisher of The San Diego Voice and Viewpoint.

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