Chess Moves: Why JAY-Z’s Full-Page Newspaper Ad for George Floyd Was So Powerful

JAY-Z's Team Roc to Organize Rally in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin Demanding Justice for Alvin Cole

Words by Miss2Bees & Andre Kettle

JAY-Z isn’t a businessman he’s a business, man! The mogul continues to make power plays that prove he’s constantly thinking outside of the box.

The music industry supported the Black Lives Matter protests in response to George Floyd’s death by celebrating “Black Out Tuesday” on June 2nd. Hov and Team Roc took out a full-page newspaper ad across the nation to honor George Floyd. The ad featured an excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech he delivered in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 in which the late civil rights leader laid out the importance of standing up in the face of oppression, even if it means laying your life on the line.

You’re probably thinking, ‘Who still reads the newspaper?’ But there are millions of people who still do. According to a July 2019 case study on journalism.org, the estimated total U.S. daily circulation (print and digital combined) in 2018 was 28.6 million for weekday and 30.8 million on Sunday. The total population in the US is 331 million. So if you do the math, about 8% percent still read the newspaper. By taking the ad out, Jigga was able to reach the 8% percent of America whether they want to read about it or not.

According to the Pew Research Center, “43% of adults get news often from news websites or social media,” and news diets are drastically different for younger and older people. “The median age of a person reading a daily print newspaper is 57.9, which is younger than the median age for those who watched The Weather Channel (58.9), and the Fox News Channel (58.4) in the past week,” according to Nielsen Scarborough’s 2017 analytics.

JAY-Z’s ad was seen by the eyes of baby boomers who probably advocated for and benefitted from segregation and other means of systematic oppression. They were definitely swinging their canes in the air when they opened the pages of The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and The Philadelphia Inquirer and saw the echoing words of the late MLK Jr. was still relevant in 2020.

This was a tactical move on JAY-Z’s part, and it was a play taken straight out of Donald Trump’s book.

Trump bought ads in the New York’s popular, local newspapers – New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post and New York Newsday – for the 1989 case against the Central Park Five case. He spent about $85,000 buying ads which ran for two weeks which shaped the opinion of the public in the case convicting five innocent teens of raping a white woman jogging in the park. “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE,” the headline read in bold letters.

Chess Moves: Why JAY-Z's Full-Page Newspaper Ad for George Floyd Was So Powerful

His letter mourned how New York families of all races “have had to give up the pleasure of a leisurely stroll in the Park at Dusk” because of “roving thousands of wild animals.” He also argued that politicians were concerned with the outcry of the public and police brutality. He said, “these muggers and murderers…should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.”

Michael Warren, a member of the Central Park legal team, argued that Trump “poisoned the many people who lived in New York and who, rightfully, had a natural affinity for the victim.”

Imagine how influential JAY-Z’s ad will be towards George Floyd’s murder case, and how people view police brutality against minorities and especially Black people.

So far the murder charge on Derek Chauvin was upgraded from 3rd degree to 2nd degree, the other three officers have been charged with murder as well, the mayor of California is cutting ties with police and funding the local black communities. The most monumental change was the Minneapolis City Council members announcing their plans to disband the police department in favor of a community-led system.

“We are also here because, here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States, it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety isn’t working for so many of our neighbors,” council member Lisa Bender said. “Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period.”

Millions of people are uniting in all 50 states and 18 countries have participated in the Black Lives Matter protests. Now thanks to Hov, the people who would normally turn the page reporting on another police-involved shooting with an unarmed Black man, has to see a full-page ad on it!

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