Grammys denies Black press credentials ... AGAIN! The inference here is that Black folks can entertain (sing and dance) but they are not allowed to report For the last 53 years, the Grammys have been the premier awards show celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people in the music industry in Los Angeles, where entertainment is the #1 industry. For most of those years, African Americans have figured prominently in both the nominations and in the win column. So when Los Angeles' largest, most revered African American-owned and -operated newspaper--a weekly publication that shines a spotlight on issues of interest to its 150,000 primarily Black readership--received the invitation to apply for Grammy credentials this year, it should have been a shoo-in to cover the industry that not only defines Los Angeles but also defines the music industry. And yet, this, the standard "Credential Request Decline Letter": "The Recording Academy regrets that we are unable to accommodate your media request to cover the 54th Annual GRAMMY(r) Awards on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, in Los Angeles. "Due to extremely limited space within the Media Center and Arrivals, we were only able to credential a small fraction of the hundreds of media outlets that applied ..." "Your understanding is very much appreciated ... "? That made it official: For now, the second year in a row (yes, we were rejected last year too), the Recording Academy and Rogers & Cowan has denied the request of The Los Angeles Sentinel to cover the music industry's main event (and even the pre-awards ceremony)--the 54th Grammys--the awards presentation to be held on Sun., Feb. 12. While we understand that hundreds of media outlets must be denied credentials "because of limited space," it defies incredulity that our publication would be among those. Why? There are many reasons we say that; here are just two: 1. In virtually every major Grammy nomination category, there is at least one, and many times, two African American nominees. 2. Traditionally, a great number of Grammy-nominated artists have significant ties to the local African American community, because they live here, they record here, they have close family relatives who live here--and/or they read our paper. That would include two of the five of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award honorees: Diana Ross and Gil Scott-Heron. Thus, given the sheer number of African Americans who are nominated, who perform at the Grammys, who work at the Grammy awards show and/or who cheer for the Grammy nominees during their arrival on the red carpet, African Americans in Los Angeles have a vested interest in coverage from their community newspaper. That is not to say that other media outlets cannot adequately cover the events. But it does mean they are not necessarily equipped to adequately describe the cultural nuances of the Grammy show like that of the local newspaper that is dedicated to, and more capable of, examining how events, broader issues and trends affect the lives of African Americans. Events like the annual Grammy awards deserve coverage by a representative sampling of all media--including one from a decidedly African American point of view. No doubt the Los Angeles Times and Billboard will be there. But so should the Los Angeles Sentinel. Finally, by press time, the Sentinel had spoken to a representative of the Recording Academy by phone, and after a brief conversation, she answered the question as to whether or not the Sentinel, the number one Black newspaper on the West Coast, will be able to report the 2012 Grammy Awards directly to its readers. The Recording Academy's answer was a resounding "NO."
Update: Statement of Danny Bakewell, Sr., Executive Publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times newspapers In light of the Recording Academy’s negative response, meetings are being held with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), NAACP, Brotherhood Crusade, Mothers in Action, SCLC and other community activists who have voiced outrage at the Academy’s disrespect of the Black press of America. Plans are being made to bring this matter to national attention because we believe artists, civic leaders and civil rights leaders around the country will be outraged that the Academy is practicing blatant discrimination against the Black press. As this is all going on during the celebration of Dr. King’s life, it represents that we still have a long way to go in our fight for respect and equality. Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, has been working closely with Black musicians for years. He more than others should know how vital the Black press is to the success of the Grammy awards show and its promotion. It is only fitting that an organization such as the Sentinel be there to support and report the breadth of Grammy events because in the so-called “mainstream media,” many times Black artists’ names get glossed over, resulting in little more than a blurb. The Sentinel exists to give a unique perspective and to shed a light on issues that other outlets just might not write about for whatever reason. As Executive Publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times Newspapers, I am outraged about the Recording Academy’s failure to include the Black press of America. … We have been the backbone of this community for years, and we aren’t going anywhere. … The awards show is being held in our backyard, being that it is held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The Black press will be included no matter what it takes — or you better believe you will see some of your top Black musicians boycotting along with major Black organizations.