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Print Is Dead? Hispanic Publications Defy Trend, Tell a Different Story

Hispanic Link, News Report, Kirk Whisler Posted: May 24, 2009

Traduccin al espaol

Editor's Note: Mainstream media may be collapsing everywhere, but Hispanic publications have been holding up, and the future seems bright for them, reports Kirk Whisler in Hispanic Link.

The year 2008 was one of ups and downs for Hispanic newspapers, magazines and other Latino publications throughout the United States. Despite some rough spots, the $1.4 billion in revenue they generated last year continues to signal a bright future for Hispanic print.

At years end, there were 834 Hispanic newspapers, 556 Hispanic magazines and another 526 journals, annuals, yellow-page directories and newsletters keeping this nations ever-growing Latino population, now approaching 50 million, informed.

Hispanic newspapers had a combined circulation of 17.8 million, with an impressive 144 of them audited. Hispanic magazines had a combined circulation of 31.6 million, with 34 of those audited.

That English-language dailies are representative of all newspapers is false. While many of those mainstream publications may have problems, they are not a reflection of the majority of Hispanic publications.

The frequent media rap nowadays that print is dead is as invalid in either language as the tired claim that Hispanics dont read. In Latino Print Networks annual summary being distributed this week, here are the high points:

Hispanic-owned Weekly Newspapers and Magazines

Measured by three key criteria, these publications continued to grow:

Number of publications (up 20)

Combined circulation (up over 550,000)

Combined ad revenues (up 4 percent).

Impressive growth statistics could be found within major publication groups such as El Especial in New York and Miami (up 16 percent), and El Aviso (14 percent) and El Clasificado (18 percent) in Los Angeles.

Each topped a quarter of a million circulation and added new neighborhoods to those they serve.
Fama magazine, out of Miami, saw its circulation leap 39 percent to 188,283. To support this growth it increased ad revenues. Many other publications shined through the nations down economy.

New Markets Served

Almost every month, Hispanic publications start up in new markets.

Today Hispanic newspapers serve all but four of the countrys 50 states and almost 200 markets nationwide. This provides far better coverage than any other media serving the Hispanic community. On a weekly basis, at least 57 percent of Latino households are using one or more Latino publications.

Ad Category Growth
Health services, legal ads, vocational school and governmental ads are some of the types of advertising that are growing. Local ads as a whole are increasing in most markets; hyper-local ads are growing even faster for community publications.

Areas of Concern

Spanish Language Dailies: Spanish language dailies reached a high point in the United States in 2005, with 42 dailies with a combined 1.6 million circulation. By the end of 2008, those numbers had declined to 29 dailies with a combined 1.1 million circulation. Those numbers decreased even more in 2009. While major markets like Los Angeles, New York and Miami will undoubtedly have a Spanish-language daily for many decades to come, some that were started in the past decade were in markets probably too small to support one.

Employment: Employment at Hispanic publications grew every year for decades. All of that ended in a big way last year, with a decline from 17,354 employees in 2007 to 12,122 employed at the end of last year. Over 2,300 positions were lost at Hispanic dailies alone.

Yellow Pages: Another area that saw a major downturn was Spanish-language yellow pages, with the number dropping from 149 in 2007 to 102 in 2008. The biggest problem here was with two groups of yellow pages that were either leveraged too much or had owners who were no longer supportive.

Aside from that, the field of locally owned yellow pages seems to be very healthy and they should continue to grow for years to come.

The Future

How will mainstream-owned Hispanic weeklies evolve? For those owned by non-Hispanic media groups, the verdict is still out. Many like Mundo Hispnico in Atlanta, El Tiempo Latino in Washington, D.C., and La Voz de Houston were started and reached maturity as Hispanic-owned publications. When their original owners sold out to local mainstream-owned dailies, theyve continued to evolve using the best of their founders ideals with the strengths that a major daily can provide.

Other publications have been started by mainstream newspapers with a wide variety of formulas that range from well-thought-out to ones that seem to have no formula at all. Often, these publications have no spokesperson at the corporate level, so when budgets are being cut, these publications shut down, even if they are profitable.

Hispanic Print on the Internet

Today 443 Hispanic newspapers and 311 Hispanic magazines have web sites, the majority of which are updated at least weekly. Millions of people turn to these sites for news and entertainment. Circulation audits can now include online readers.

While few Hispanic publications have effectively tied their online and print efforts together, it will be a major test for them over the next few years.

All figures in this article are for the United States and its commonwealth Puerto Rico. They also include 12 newspapers along the U.S.-Mexico border that have circulation on both sides of the border.

Kirk Whisler is founding president of Latino Print Network, based in Carlsbad, Calif. Email: Kirk@Whisler.com

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