Hispanic Publishers Take Aim at Mainstream Press
Stein, M. L., Editor & Publisher
Raise concerns about metro newspapers' attempts to siphon advertising from them with new Latino-targeted publications
CONCERNED THAT mainstream newspapers in major cities are thing to gobble their lunch, Hispanic publishers are fighting back with what promises to be a titanic struggle for the 30 million people in the Latino market.
The competitive threat from major dailies comes at a time when publishers of Hispanic newspapers and magazines say they generally are enjoying economic success.
A warning about the mainstream press' efforts to siphon advertising from them was sounded at the 8th annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Publishers in San Diego last month by its president, Tino Duran, owner of four Hispanic weeklies in Texas.
"The media giants are moving into Hispanic print," Duran declared in a fiery speech to the membership.
He cited the Los Angeles Times' conversion of its monthly El Tiempo into a weekly; Chicago Tribune's Exito; Fort Worth Star-Telegram's La Estrella, which is competing with his El Informador; Miami Herald's El Nuevo Herald; and El Nuevo Tiempo, published by the Santa Barbara (Calif.) NewsPress, which is owned by New York Times Co.
He also noted that a major Hispanic newspaper in Chicago, La Raza, has entered into a joint venture with the Chicago Sun-Times to publish a Sunday magazine and La Voz, Houston, struck a deal to be inserted in the Houston Chronicle for delivery in Latino neighborhoods. The Houston Post also puts out a Spanish-language paper.
"The media giants see the phenomenal growth of the Hispanic market," Duran said-"They see that between 1985 and 1993, our disposable income grew from $93 billion to $220 billion. They also see that it's projected to more than double to $477 billion by die year 2000 and they want a piece of it. They will continue reaching for the advertising dollars aimed at the Hispanic marker."
Such forays could doom Hispanic publications, he conrended. "Without our share of advertising revenues, we will shrivel and die," he predicted. Buying space in Hispanic media is a smart move for advertisers because "we are culturally and community relevant," he maintained.
In an interview, Duran scorned what he termed the "big dailies'" belated interest in the Hispanic community.
Using Fort Worth as an example, he said, "The Star-Telegram is trying to strangle us -- knock us out of existence. But where were they 15 years ago when we were the only paper addressing Hispanics in Fort Worth? I'll tell you where they were. They were running stories of crimes by Latinos on the front page and anything positive we did wound up in the classified section if it ran at all."
Duran carried that theme into his speech. But he said corporate America and Hispanic-owned businesses and advertising agencies share some of the blame for any loss in market share by the Hispanic print media, which generally enjoyed a healthy 1993.
He lauded major corporations such as Ford, AT&T, Phillip Morris and Pepsico for advertising in Hispanic publications but said, "There are many others who have yet to see the light. And sometimes we face the toughest obstacles from our own people."
He noted that several Hispanic-owned businesses in San Antonio advertise extensively in other media "but ignore us or expect us to give away the space to them at some ridiculous price below our costs."
Similarly, Duran continued, some Hispanic ad agencies give secondary status to Hispanic print.
"There are times when I've had to go around a Hispanic agency and deal directly with the client to make a sale," he recalled.
Still, he said, handwringing about these problems will not solve them. He urged NAHP members to continue improving their publications and to act as advocates and warchdogs in their areas, "exposing those who try to degrade or exploit our communities. …