Ethnic Outlets Survive In Sinking Media Market As many major nationwide news organizations are sinking in the tough economy, the "ethnic media," news organizations that tailor content toward the sons and daughters of immigrants, are thriving with growing audiences. Multiplatform interactions — television, radio and the Internet — are popular.
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Ethnic Outlets Survive In Sinking Media Market

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Ethnic Outlets Survive In Sinking Media Market

Ethnic Outlets Survive In Sinking Media Market

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These may be grim times for major news organizations, but there is one exception, the sector that's often labeled ethnic media. Many of those outlets are thriving by tapping into an expanding audience — the sons and daughters of immigrants.

As part of our series on immigrants' children, NPR's Mandalit del Barco looks at the impact in one big market, the one here in Los Angeles.

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MANDALIT DEL BARCO: In Los Angeles, the number one TV station isn't NBC, CBS, ABC or Fox — it's Spanish-language KMEX, the flagship of Univision. And it isn't just L.A.'s top station; the Nielsens say it's numero uno in the U.S. with viewers aged 18-49. KMEX built big numbers with immigrant audiences, but it's now drawing their sons and daughters and even their grandchildren.

USC journalism Professor Felix Gutierrez says it's more than just language attracting those younger viewers.

Mr. FELIX GUTIERREZ (University of Southern California): I was watching last night and they were talking about the border wars — drug smuggling and all that. But they were covering it from the Mexican side. And they had, you know, the same kind of footage, but it was a different perspective, a different angle that I don't see on the CBS's, NBC, CNN and the other networks.

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DEL BARCO: Another Los Angeles station, KSCI-LA18, offers other options: programs in Korean, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Tagalog.

Mr. ERIC OLANDER (Vice President, KSCI): We're the largest Asian TV station serving the largest Asian population in the United States. People refer to us often as the Asian Univision.

DEL BARCO: KSCI vice president Eric Olander says while other media companies are laying people off or closing down, his station is actually expanding. LA18 recently launched a new local evening show in Korean, and a local morning show in Chinese.

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DEL BARCO: The two-hour live "Power Breakfast" spotlights local traffic and weather reports, news and quirky features from L.A. and Asia. The perky show is anchored by Yiyi Lu and Andy Chang, who both grew up in L.A. watching Chinese TV with their parents, and American shows like "Friends" and "The Simpsons."

Mr. ANDY CHANG (TV Host): The key thing for the show is energy. It's a culture shock. We are trying to jump out of the ordinary Chinese TV news.

DEL BARCO: Programming director Eric Olander says stations like his used to rely on ethnic audiences that had few other options because they weren't comfortable in English. But that's not necessarily true of immigrants' children.

Mr. OLANDER: We know that the first generation watches us. The second generation's much more difficult to capture, in part because they have language skills which allow them to go watch MTV, to go listen to NPR. They have a much wider array of choices.

Not to mention, the second generation, which are younger, they're watching less television — they're on the Web, they're obviously not reading newspapers in the numbers they were. They're not listening to the radio in the numbers they were. So their media patterns are changing.

DEL BARCO: That's why in addition to its broadcasts, LA18 now offers podcasts, blogs and video online in various Asian languages and in English.

The biggest Spanish language daily newspaper in the country, La Opinion, is also reaching out online. The L.A. paper's circulation has dipped but still has half a million readers.

Ms. MONICA LOZANO (Publisher, La Opinion): La Opinion was started by my grandfather 83 years ago, in 1926.

DEL BARCO: Publisher Monica Lozano says the newspaper survived the Great Depression, battles over immigration, wars, and it's now adapting to the recession and new media appetites. Lozano says Latino households tend to be multigenerational, multilingual and multimedia.

Ms. LOZANO: So the beautiful thing is that the parents are reading the newspaper; they're talking to their kids who are online; the kids are talking to their parents about something that they've just learned; the grandparents are saying, but I just saw this on television or in my newspaper. So the media consumption is actually very dynamic, very multigenerational. It goes across language.

DEL BARCO: And increasingly, that language is Spanglish.

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DEL BARCO: Latino 96.3 FM is operated by the Spanish Broadcasting System, which owns radio stations across the country. DJs at the popular station spin a musical mix, from rancheras to reggaeton to hip-hop. On the mic each morning, Chuey Martinez easily switches between Spanish and English.

Mr. CHUEY MARTINEZ (DJ): I would like to think I'm talking the way everybody else is talking. (Spanish spoken) You know what I'm saying? We speak both. Especially if you grew up here in L.A., you grew up speaking both.

DEL BARCO: Martinez's father emigrated from the Dominican Republic, and his mother is Mexican-American. Like other 27-year-olds, he grew up watching telenovelas with his family and now interfaces bilingually.

Mr. MARTINEZ: Young Latinos are very tech savvy. You know what I'm saying? We like the iPhones, we like the iPods, we like the MySpaces, the Facebooks. I Twitter like you have no idea right now. I blog. I vlog a lot. Wow, I consume it all, man.

DEL BARCO: Martinez says the media increasingly reflects that new multicultural reality. He says his million and a half weekly listeners can't be wrong.

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DEL BARCO: Mandalit Del Barco, NPR News.

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