March 01, 2012
/ by Jenny Wittman
As the Hispanic population continues to rise, so does the demand for English-language media with a Latino focus. According to the 2010 United States Census, the Hispanic population is currently 50 million and grew 43 percent since 2000 as opposed to all other ethnic groups, which grew five percent combined. These figures make way for an undisputed opportunity for media outlets to cater toward the ever-growing demographic.
In the last few years, several high profile outlets have launched Latino-focused, English-language websites, including Fox News Latino, Latino Voices by Huffington Post, and the NBC Latino Tumblr.
This month, Comcast announced the formation and development of two Latino inspired cable networks targeted toward second and third bilingual generations. El Rey will focus on entertainment andis slated to launch in early 2014. Backed by Hollywood filmmaker, Robert Rodriguez, it will feature movies, TV shows, reality shows and animated features. BabyFirst Americas is scheduled to launch this April and targets parents and children of bicultural households with programming that will focus on verbal, math, and motor skills.
There is even unofficial talk within the industry about a possible collaboration between Univision Television Network and Disney-ABC for a 24-hour cable news channel for Latinos in English.
Back in June 2010 – and before all these outlets hit mainstream media – an independent site with the same demographic was launched called Hispanically Speaking News.
“The idea came about when we couldn’t find an independent ‘Huffington Postesque’ web news site for Latinos. Covering stories that either don’t ever make it in English language media or make it to the back pages of a site,” editor in chief Estelle Gonzales Walgreen said. “The top sites were coming from television sources (Univision or Telemundo), only in Spanish or affiliated to a print magazine that did not offer 24/7 news coverage. So basically we saw a need and ran with it.”
In the beginning, Gonzales Walgreen, along with co-founder Kim Kipp, had the site publish 60 percent Spanish content and 40 percent English. “However, our analytics, comments and audience reaction was not very receptive to our Spanish content, so we gradually moved to English-only content for and about Latinos,” she said.
The 2010 United States Census also revealed that the Hispanic population is now spread throughout the country, when in the past, it was only concentrated in eight or nine states. Given their prevalence in the national populace, Gonzales Walgreen believes this market has a lot of influence in consumerism, but has not been properly addressed.
“This is an audience that is basically being sold to buy stuff, but not being informed,” she said.
So far, Gonzales Walgreen has found three topics dominating the Latino mindset – education, immigration and income disparity. The Latino audience also has strong ties to their ethnic culture and there is a strong demand for what is going on at their homeland, especially if there are natural disasters or accidents.
Another gap in the Latino media culture is the need for a reliable consumer magazine.
Cosmopolitan Latina will launch in May 2012 as a bi-annual publication with a social media presence to communicate with readers in between issues. Editor in chief Michelle Herrera Mulligan knows the need for this audience that has been overlooked by print media in the past.
“I’ve often caught myself ‘translating’ content for Latina experience. There’s very little out there, especially in women’s magazines – that acknowledge a bilingual or bicultural household – or the Latina vision of beauty, fashion and entertainment,” she said.
The young women’s lifestyle magazine will be distributed nationally, with a heavier concentration in markets such as Texas, California, Florida and New York, and others with a high Latino population. The magazine wants to reach an audience outside of the mainstream Cosmopolitan brand with customized content that speaks to Latinos’ unique experience of everyday life in America, Herrera Mulligan explained.
Gonzales Walgreen agrees that the growth we’ve seen is also driven by the young Latino generation, which is the fastest growing segment within the Latino demographic.
Miami born and Venezuelan raised Cision senior media researcher Daniela Borja can relate to growing up with a bicultural background.
“A teenager’s cultural development and personal discovery is crucial in the shaping of the person they will become. And when facing an upbringing where cultural diversity dominates in the household, the challenge is even greater,” she explained.
This recent surge and development of English Latino media is likely just the beginning. “It is very interesting to see how the socio-cultural adaptation of new generations just in the last ten years has strongly developed a new niche audience and created a need for media that attempts to bridge that cultural gap,” Borja said.
Hispanically Speaking News 6344 S Austin Ave Chicago, IL 60638 (224)544-5115
Estelle Gonzales Walgreen , editor in chief
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