Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson (D) represents a cross section of voters in the diverse 4th Congressional district. He has held office since 2007 and sits on the US Judiciary Committee on Armed Services and the Committee of the Judiciary.
In fiscal year 2016, the US Department of Defense will spend almost $507 million on advertising for the armed forces. But very little of that money is spent advertising with Black owned media. Rolling out spoke with Congressman Johnson about the issue, asking why so few military ad dollars find their way to Black media outlets.
Today, Black Americans, male and female, serve in the military in great numbers. Why is it important for the Department of Defense to spend advertising dollars with Black media outlets?
Because, from the standpoint of recruiting, you go to where the potential recruits are or reach them through the mediums from where they get their information. It’s a fact that African-Americans listen to a lot of radio, urban radio in particular, that has an African-American format. This is true for both music and talk radio. So, that is a key way for African-Americans receiving information, as is the local African-American press. They may not have huge circulation, but when you put all of the African-American print publications together, they are indeed a conglomerate that reaches a mass number of African-Americans and some Whites also. Many Whites have been known to pickup African-American oriented publications so they can find out what’s going on in the African-American community. So, these local and sometimes non-mainstream national publications reach in particular around the young people who are our future. These news organizations are quite prolific but they may not get the recognition but they do reach the numbers. So, it is important that the military, which spends a lot of money in recruitment advertising, spend a hefty amount of that money in African-American owned media. When you look at the numbers in the military, we make up a far greater percentage of boots on the ground than we are as a percentage of the overall population. Although in the Officer’s Corp we don’t see the same number, it is a number that is getting better.