Black Americans: Morocco Wants to Connect With You

The North African country bankrolled an exploratory trip for 14 journalists affiliated with black organizations. Why? More press coverage.

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A 14-person delegation from the National Newspaper Publishers Association, representing the nation’s black press, returned Sunday from a week-long government-sponsored trip to Morocco as the North African country reaches out to African Americans.

“This is part of series of no-strings attached government-sponsored trips by African American organizations to Morocco to give them a first-hand look at the country,” Cloves C. Campbell, chairman of the NNPA and publisher of the Arizona Informant in Phoenix, told Journal-isms by email.

“No limitations have been placed on what we can write or discuss and we’re under no obligation to write anything. This is the outgrowth of a trip Jesse Jackson took to Morocco in August during which he urged Moroccan leaders to reach out to Black organizations so that they can gain a better understanding of the country and the challenges it faces.”

Leading mainstream news organizations prohibit employees from accepting free trips from governments or other potential sources.

However, journalists not affiliated with those organizations sometimes find such offers too good to resist.

The New York-based America’s Voices in Israel, for example, has been flying Latino journalists to that country in an effort to influence the United States’ growing Latino population, Irwin Katsof, director of the group, has told Journal-isms.

In January 2012, syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. told Journal-isms that by focusing more and more on local issues, the news industry is less likely today to support such travel. “The end result is you end up not going,” he said, as happened to him at the paper that laid him off in 2010, the San Diego Union-Tribune, now U-T San Diego. “If I don’t get a trip, I don’t get an education. I don’t grow, and the column doesn’t prosper.” Besides, Navarrette said, “if you can’t sort out the ethical problems in this, you’re in the wrong business.”

On the Morocco trip were Campbell; Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher, Washington Informer, Washington; Michael H. Cottman, Washington-based senior correspondent for;  George E. Curry, editor-in-chief, NNPA News Service and, Washington; James E. Farmer, NNPA Corporate Advisory Board, Detroit; James Gomez, director of international affairs for Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Bobby R. Henry Sr., publisher, Westside Gazette, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Hiram Jackson, CEO, Real Times Media and publisher, Michigan Chronicle, Detroit; Kierna Mayo, editorial director, digital,, New York; Askia Muhammad, news director, WPFW-FM, Washington; Francis Page, Jr., publisher, Houston Style magazine; Houston; Elizabeth Ragland, NNPA photographer, Washington; Ingrid Sturgis, journalism professor, Howard University; and Chida R. Warren-Darby, managing editor, San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, San Diego, Calif.