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Latino Times: News in Your Backyard

NCM Profile

NCM, Daniela Rible Posted: Apr 20, 2004

The idea for the Latino Times began brewing in Andrew Ysianos mind while he was president of the California State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for four years, working with 50 chambers across the state. He noticed there were numerous Spanish-language papers in the Central Valley, even though not all Latinos read Spanish.

Since 1996 he had been dreaming of starting a Latino paper that most Latinos could read. There were already 10 Spanish-language papers in San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties, but none that published in English. I wanted to be different, says Ysiano.

In January, 2001, the Latino Times, a Stockton-based free quarterly newspaper, was the first Latino publication in the Central Valley to print solely in English. In January, 2004, it began printing bimonthly.

According to Ysiano, the Latino Times targets the majority of Spanish speakers in the Central Valley who dont usually read in Spanish. Most readers are second to fourth generation Americans, who have been living in the United States for more than 20 years. According to Ysiano, television is the only media that targets the crisscross of both Spanish- and English-speaking Latinos.

The newspaper steers clear of stories from Latin America, covering U.S.-based issues with a priority on local and statewide news concerning the Latino community. We only cover stories in our backyard, says Ysiano. The Latino Times circulation reaches as far as Sacramento and Fresno.

In its section, Latinos on the Move, the newspaper features stories on Latinos who are successful in business and the community. According to Ysiano, this section encourages Latinos to feel positive about successes in their community rather than being categorized into stereotypes of migrant workers.

The section also profiles people who may be under the radar and would not otherwise be published in other media. For example, it recently featured a story on Disco Azteca, a company created in Stockton by a team of three brothers and one sister, all born in Mexico. They founded the record label and music production company in their garage more than 30 years ago, began selling and distributing music and now have offices throughout the United States with more than $25 million in sales.

According to Ysiano, the Latino Times receives positive feedback from its readers, who say they read it from cover to cover. But the paper received criticism from its Democratic readers when it featured a story on a Stockton mayoral candidate, Latino Republican and former chief of police Ed Chavez, because they thought the Latino Times was endorsing him. "I made a case for his track record," he says. If the other candidate had been Latino also, Ysiano says, the newspaper would have featured him too. "I asked my readers why I would write about a non-Latino candidate."

Ysiano says he wants to build his business before he can endorse candidates and write about more controversial issues because this may affect advertising. "We havent really crossed the line yet. But I want us to get there." Ysiano says the community may react negatively to more controversial topics. "People in small towns remember more."

When he crosses that line, he says, he wants to write stories including this years presidential election, whether local politicians in top-level positions are affected by the citys affirmative action policy and the extent to which banks reciprocate to their communities.

The Latino Times is currently working on a story about a street in Stockton, Charter Way, that recently added Martin Luther King, Jr. to its name. The city council neglected to inform or ask the merchants on the street90 percent of whom are Latinoabout the name change. Ysiano says this group of second and third generation Americans is very outspoken and when they read the story, he expects them to be outraged that the street's new name does not honor a Latino figure.

The newspaper is written by bilingual, bicultural Latinos and read by a broad range of people, including those in community and civic organizations, businesses, students and faculty as well as other professionals from San Joaquin County to Stanislaus County. In addition to Ysiano, the Latino Times staff includes three writers and one editor. Forty percent of the content is written in-house and 60 percent is taken from wire sources, Ysiano says. Ten of the 24 pages are printed in color.

In 2002, the newspaper created Casas, an insert to the Latino Times and the only bilingual real estate guide in the Central Valley. The publication was created out of the papers real estate section, primarily consisting of listings and ads, and developed into a guide featuring bilingual articles to educate and advise the Latino community on property issues. Both publications have a circulation of 20,000 and are distributed from San Jose to Sacramento to Fresno.

The Latino Times maintains its clean image, Ysiano says, by steering clear of any ads for strip clubs or massage parlors. This image is important to maintain, he says, because children look at the paper and it is distributed in public libraries and at universities. The paper continues to generate new advertisers by maintaining a strong relationship with the local Chamber of Commerce.

In May of 2004, the Latino Times will launch a website (www.latinotimes.org) featuring its top stories, links to other publications and the California Hispanic Publications Group, media kits and staff biographies.

Within the next few years, Ysiano sees the paper becoming a major player in the community by being an active member in job and housing fairs and by being a home for young and aspiring journalists.

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