The Washington Informer has settled its protest against the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer [OCFO]. The four-month ordeal was started in July when a District contracting officer determined that The Informer was disqualified from submitting a bid to publish the Unclaimed Properties Listing advertisement because it serves "a specific ethnic audience."
Attorney Johnny Barnes, who represented the newspaper in its protest against the OCFO, said, "this is a victory for The Washington Informer, but it is unfortunate that it has to be this way. Someone got it all wrong, but we commend those in the OCFO's office who understand the law and recognize the broad reach and respect for The Washington Informer. This whole thing just didn't make any sense."
And it didn't. The impact of such a thoughtless decision could have impacted all D.C. media including The Washington Times, which won the bid. Comparisons between the perceived readership of The Times, as being white, male, rich and conservative to The Informer's readership which is primarily middle income African Americans with a high school diploma or college degree reflect two diverse audiences both newspapers target. But each publication attempts to reach a broad and diverse audience. If the decision was upheld, it could have resulted in both newspapers, and others, being disqualified from publishing District public notice ads.
The fact that The Informer was disqualified, despite the fact that it's a Certified Business Enterprise [CBE], which provides it with a certain amount of preference points on D.C. government contracts, also could have had a ripple effect on the CBE community.
Thanks to the support of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells, leaders of several media and community organizations including the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Capital Press Club, the Minority Media Telecommunications Association and the Washington Teachers' Union, thoughtful minds prevailed.
The OCFO acknowledged that The Informer is a "well respected" publication that has served readers in the Washington area for more nearly 50 years. And it agreed that the Informer is a general circulation newspaper, despite its editorial focus, and is therefore qualified to bid on District advertising contracts.
We are pleased with this decision and we are absolutely sure it was the right one to make. We enjoy and are committed to serving our readers in D.C., no matter who they are, what they look like or where they live. And, we want to assist every advertiser, including the District government, to reach the 50,000 readers and 7,000 unique online viewers weekly of The Informer.