GallupARTS to the Editor: Quid pro quo

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  • 2022-04-16

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GallupARTS to the Editor: Quid pro quo

To the Editor:

 

On April 4, 2022, gallupARTS was informed by Bob Zollinger, publisher of The Gallup Independent, that the paper would no longer provide news coverage about or run PSAs for its community events and programs, including ART123 Gallery. In text messages, Mr. Zollinger stated, “My position is with ART123 buying ads from them [the Gallup Journey and Gallup Sun] and not us our news columns are off limits to ART123 until I see a change.” He further stated, “It is not a quid pro quo but if we are not good enough for a paid ad from ART123 then we are not good enough for its announcements.”

 

These are alarming and incredibly disconcerting declarations. As the community’s newspaper of record, the Independent is entrusted to provide fair, unbiased, honest coverage of matters of concern and importance to the people of Gallup and the surrounding area without consideration for its own interests—and certainly not on a quid pro quo basis, as Zollinger himself acknowledges is inappropriate, yet, in fact, is precisely demanding. What is newsworthy does not depend on whether the Independent is paid to report it.

 

gallupARTS is a small nonprofit that manages on a shoestring budget. As was explained at great length to Mr. Zollinger, our organization literally does not have an advertising budget. The only time gallupARTS can afford paid advertising is in conjunction with specific grant-funded or contracted projects for which it is identified as a permissible cost and an approved budget item. gallupARTS spends $1,500 per year at most on advertising. We sincerely value all of our local media partnerships, and, while we unfortunately have never had enough money to purchase radio spots, we do our best to honor those partnerships by advertising across outlets when we have the opportunity. Contrary to what Mr. Zollinger may claim, it is not true that gallupARTS does not purchase advertising in the Independent. Mr. Zollinger cited the one and only ad gallupARTS has taken out this year (a half-page ad in the Journey) as evidence of a pattern of discrimination, yet the last time gallupARTS had funding for advertising (in December 2021) it took out a full-page ad in the Independent.

 

The Independent’s attempt to extract a few hundred dollars from gallupARTS comes at the expense of community members and local artists. gallupARTS provides a wide variety of free learning and enrichment opportunities for kids, families and adults that also serve to promote and support area artists. Blacklisting gallupARTS disserves the community and debases the function of a newspaper as a steward of the public interest.

 

gallupARTS operates with integrity and strictly upholds its mission of public service and commitment to the public good. We will not pay to play in any endeavor so antithetical to those values.

 

Sincerely,

gallupARTS Board of Directors

Suzanne Hammons, President

Orlando Walker, Vice President

Carol Sarath, Secretary & Interim Treasurer

Dana Aldis

Martin O’Malley