Spanish-Language Media Grows, Engages Communities With the nation's Hispanic population topping 50 million, media outlets are racing to court audiences from this key demographic. When the National Association of Hispanic Journalists meets today for its annual convention, chief among the agenda items will be the issue of reaching Hispanics through English and Spanish-language media. Guest host Allison Keyes discusses the current state of Hispanic media with Monica Lozano, a panelist at the convention and CEO of Impremedia, the country's largest Spanish-language newspaper company.
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Spanish-Language Media Grows, Engages Communities

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Spanish-Language Media Grows, Engages Communities

Spanish-Language Media Grows, Engages Communities

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This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Allison Keyes. Michel Martin is away on jury duty.

Coming up, we speak with the black and openly gay filmmaker Maurice Jamal about his career and urban LGBT television network.

But first, Spanish-language media in the U.S. Networks like Univision and Telemundo are seeing much higher ratings than some listeners might expect. And the Census Bureau says the Hispanic population has now topped 50 million. Yesterday, President Obama traveled to Puerto Rico, not only to connect with the people there, but also political analysts say to help him gain support from Puerto Ricans living and voting for president on the mainland in the U.S.

The scope and influence of Hispanics are at issue in an gathering this week at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. To learn more about the impact of Spanish language media, as well as any turn toward Hispanic news by English-language media, we're joined on the line by Monica Lozano. She's CEO of America's largest Spanish-language newspaper company, called ImpreMedia. It publishes La Opinion in Los Angeles, El Diario La Prensa in New York, as well as the community weekly La Raza in Chicago.

Welcome to the program.

MONICA LOZANO: Thank you, Allison. It's nice to be with you.

KEYES: So, Monica, let's talk a bit about the numbers the Spanish-language media are pulling in, newspapers, TV, radio. It's kind of impressive, isn't it?

LOZANO: Oh, it certainly is. When you're seeing a decline in overall ratings and readership by English-language newspapers and media outlets, Spanish-language media is clearly on the upswing. Seen significant growth, double digit growth, actually, in terms of both viewership and readership in Spanish-language media.

KEYES: Can you talk to us about some of the things that make Spanish-language media unique?

LOZANO: You have to break it down. So you mentioned in the intro that this is a community of over 50 million. So it's very diverse. There isn't one single approach that would be appropriate for the entire community.

KEYES: Right. So it's not a monolithic...

LOZANO: Exactly. And because of that diversity, you actually have greater increase both in the number of outlets, as well as, as I said before, those that are well-established brands, like Univision and ImpreMedia, et cetera, are also seeing growth. I think fundamentally the reason for this is because these outlets provide content that is very unique, deeply connected to the issues of interest to these communities, and have a special relationship.

If you look at the mission statements of Spanish-language media organizations, it's not just to grow the bottom line, it's not just to serve shareholders. There really is a push to empower a community. Even as the population becomes more diverse both linguistically and culturally, that affinity, that connection to Spanish-language media, continues because people see it as almost a partner in their lives in a way that they don't typically connect with other media organizations.

KEYES: Let me jump in for a minute, because we were just talking about how the audience is not monolithic. I wonder if there is a thing about the way English-language media coverage of issues important to your community drives you insane.


LOZANO: It certainly does. And there has been a lot of effort around working with English language news organizations to better reflect the depths of this community in all of its aspects. You know, unfortunately, if you were to ask people today, you know, tell me about the Mexican-American community in the United States, the first thing people would talk about is, you know, drug trafficking and, you know, violence on the border and the problems of Mexico, as opposed to this is the community that has the fastest rate of business startups, that has the fastest rates of college growing young people.

So there's a tendency to look at, you know, all of the problems and the dysfunction of a community, as opposed to those things that I think really define the aspirational nature of Hispanics in America.

KEYES: Let me ask you about what's happening with Hispanic journalists and technology and social media. That's becoming a place, I should say, where there is clearer coverage of your community than you might find in other outlets. Is that right?

LOZANO: Absolutely. And so years ago everybody talked about the digital divide. And this was of great concern, that you had people who were on the highway and others who are not. Today that digital divide is disappearing quickly. Sixty percent of all Latinos are online. And within the next two years, 80 percent will be online. Fastest rates of use of social media both in terms of growth as well as total number of people using social media.

And so what you're seeing is the emergence of niche communities online related to areas of interest. It could be Mexican soccer, it could be moms. So what I'm saying here is that you have, you know, large entities that continue to grow and you also see the increase of these narrower community-based online sites.

KEYES: Let me ask you. Do you think that Spanish-language media is affecting how so-called mainstream media is covering your community?

LOZANO: Oh, absolutely. For example, you mentioned that the president was in Puerto Rico. He does a one-on-one with Univision and talks about everything from the economy to politics to the status of Puerto Rico, et cetera. The fact that the president provides a one-on-one sit-down with a Spanish-language news entity gets the attention of English-language media.

There are things that are being discussed in Spanish-language media that I think, you know, clearly are of interest and need to be considered by English-language news organizations. And so I think there's, frankly, cross-pollinization that could occur - would be very valuable to all of us.

KEYES: In the brief time we have left, you were just talking about cross-pollinization, where do you think the future of Spanish-language media lies? Will there be kind of a merging of mainstream and Spanish-language or will they continue to be different entities with a different focus?

LOZANO: It's a good question. You know, the fact that 62 percent of all Latinos are born in the United States, that means that, you know, these young people are growing up here, English will be their first language. They will be connected to their culture and the issues of interest to their parents. But you will begin to see, I think, greater reflection of a Latino community in English-language media, and then, I think, as I said before, you will see these, you know, customized platforms to speak to Latinos - that do it in both languages.

KEYES: Monica, we've got to leave it there. Monica Lozano is the CEO of ImpreMedia. It's America's largest Spanish-language newspaper company. She was kind enough to join us from Orlando, Florida, where she is attending the National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention that runs today through Sunday.

Monica Lozano, thank you so much for joining us.

LOZANO: Thank you, Allison. I enjoyed it.

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