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El Diario-La Prensa: Present for a Century

Posted: Jul 27, 2012

Last week, Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, circulated an extensive commentary on the past and future of this newspaper, offering it as a starting point for a discussion of the role of Spanish-language media. In the title he questioned whether El Diario, which turns 100 in 2013, is counting its last days.

I have no idea if that's true or not, but I sincerely hope that it is not. On the one hand, I do not want to miss the bash of the century. On the other, I refuse to accept that the Latino community in New York would et this happen. Also because I love writing this weekly column and I can keep doing it for 100 years.

Among the things that concern Falcón is how ImpreMedia, the company that owns this and several other Spanish-language publications across the country, is held by a foreign company that may not fully understand the Latino community in New York.

In an interview on the NY1 News channel's Pura Politica last Friday, Juan Manuel Benitez, host of the program, commented on whether to call the now owners of El Diario, U. S. Hispanic Media, Inc., a subsidiary of the Argentine company SA La Nación a "foreign" company, demonstrating a parochial vision of what is actually a manifestation of market globalization.

Technically, S. A. La Nación, based in Buenos Aires, is a company as foreign as any other based in London or Madrid or Timbuktu, but that does not keep it from doing good job that can succeed and positively serve the Latino community. The problem would be if they just see us as a "market" with huge purchasing power and not as a growing community needing tools of political empowerment in this country.

The reality is that with advances in technology, especially radio, television and the Internet, all print newspapers have been declining for years. Survival depends on how they adapt to changes in the communications area.

For example, a local newspaper serving a mixed Latino community should perhaps not waste four or five of its few pages trying to be a daily "Latin American" that insists on posting even four lines over a dozen countries to just lure 500 readers. Today, from our computer or iPhone we can read the news on digital publications anywhere in the world almost as soon as they occur.

A publication in Spanish here should not obscure the fact that although we insist on Latino immigrants speaking Spanish, the reality is we live in USA, not in Bogota or Quito.

This newspaper and the others in the ImpreMedia family must re-invent and become "the bible" of Hispanics, especially for newcomers who need to learn how to navigate their way in their new country. More local and national coverage plus a super Thursday edition, loaded with information on what to do that weekend in the cinema, theater, art galleries, restaurants, dance clubs, etc. would be a bilingual guide indispensable for all New Yorkers who enjoy our culture, and would be a magnet for ads.

Translated from Spanish by NiLP

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