Flexing the Distribution Muscle: Is American Media in Proper Shape to Reach the Hispanic Market?

Belo Corp., publisher of The Dallas Morning News, may start a Spanish language newspaper in the Dallas-Fort Worth area later this year. According to Belo's CEO Robert Decherd, the publisher is in the middle of an exploratory process to determine what the Dallas/Fort Worth market can bear. “We will probably launch in the fourth quarter if all of these exploratory steps yield the right kinds of analytic results,” said Decherd.

Dallas-Fort Worth, is the 10th largest Hispanic market in the U.S., its Hispanic population has grown 130% in the past decade to 1.4 million. Sources at Belo wouldn't reveal the name of the publication, stating that it is still under review. The paper will be available at newsstands and by subscription, and will feature a colorful broadsheet design. The Spanish language daily will hire bilingual journalists along with administrative and advertising professionals to establish a complete newspaper. The new paper will include a full array of advertising, including classified ads and supplements. It also will have its own website.

...not just The Dallas Morning News en español

Sources at Belo made it clear that “the publication is not The Dallas Morning News in Spanish, and will operate independently of The Dallas Morning News.” The daily will cover local North Texas news that affects the Hispanic community. In addition, the daily will cover international news, business, lifestyle and sports, and will be a source for important information like voting locations, up to date traffic conditions, weather forecasts, soccer scores and an updated classified section. The publication will feature mostly original content, along with content from Spanish language wire services. It will benefit from access to Belo's news gathering abilities and bureaus across the country and around the world. To expand the Spanish language coverage, Belo's Mexico City bureau has expanded to include five The Dallas Morning News journalists, including a new bureau chief. Some of their work will be published in the Spanish language newspaper.

Belo has the experience and know-how...

Some attempts to enter the Hispanic newspaper market have not been successful due to a lack of experience and specific knowledge on the part of media entrepreneurs. This does not seem to be the case at Belo Corporation. Belo clearly knows what it is doing, said Gustavo Godoy, publisher of Vista Magazine the nations oldest dual language publication, adding that Belo is a very good and solid operation.

Gilbert Bailon, vice president and executive editor at The Dallas Morning News, is taking on the temporary assignment of launching the new paper. Mr. Bailon, 43, will spend 18 to 24 months heading the project. The Dallas Morning News president and editor Robert W. Mong Jr. noted that “putting someone of Gilbert's talent and stature on this project demonstrates how important it is to this company. Gilbert's passion for this subject matter is evident to everyone who comes into contact with him.” One of Belo's daily papers, The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California, publishes the weekly Spanish language newspaper, La Prensa>

...but still has to play catch up.

Dallas-Fort Worth would be the fourth metropolitan market to have a Spanish language daily. Spanish language dailies are now published in New York (Hoy, published by Tribune Co., el diario/La Prensa published by Entravision, Noticias del Mundo published by News World Communications [see Portadatm No.1 January/February 2003, page 10]), Los Angeles (La Opinion published by Lozano Communication) and Miami (El Nuevo Herald, published by Knight Ridder, Diario Las Americas, privately owned).

According to Scarborough Research, markets that have Spanish language dailies, have correspondingly high readership among Hispanics. In Miami and New York 39% and 49% of Hispanics, respectively, read a daily paper compared with only 23% in Dallas. Gordon Borrell, president and CEO of the consulting company Borrell Associates Inc., told Portadatm that the US print media industry is playing catch-up with the Hispanic market. “This is principally because of the tremendous growth that this population segment experienced in the past decade,” explained Borrell. “In some parts of the South, the Hispanic population has grown 200% (compared with total US Hispanic growth of 58%). Newspapers like the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record, whose circulation region led the nation in terms of Hispanic population growth in 2001, have only recently begun to cater to Hispanics.”

To Borrell it is extremely important that the print media industry recognize this trend quickly. “There is an advertising gold mine here because of the unique behavioral characteristics of this group,” said Borrell, adding “that the newspaper industry has faced circulation losses for a half-century. One way to combat that loss is to look at the Hispanic population and recognize that we're looking at comparably strong growth over the next 50 years.”

 


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