Hispanic newspaper wars…

The Dallas>Fort Worth newspaper market is bracing itself for a battle to win the hearts and minds of the ever increasing number of Hispanic readers. The contenders are Dallas Morning News' upcoming Spanish daily, whose name has not yet been announced (see page 3, Portadatm No 2 March/April 2003), and the twice weekly paper La Estrella, a spin-off of The Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The protagonists are owned by two of the largest newspaper chains in the US – Knight Ridder, based in San José, California (La Estrella), and Belo (Dallas Morning News Spanish daily), based in Dallas. Belo also owns the leading TV-broadcast outlets in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Both newspaper publishers smell big profits in the Dallas-Fort Worth Hispanic print media market. The Hispanic population in Dallas-Fort Worth amounts to 14% of the total population, according to Scarborough Research. It is the fastest growing top-ten Hispanic market.

Javier Aldape, publisher of La Estrella, tells Portadatm that Dallas-Fort Worth citizens “share everything except their newspapers.” The Dallas-Fort Worth market – composed of Dallas and Tarrant counties – has no less than 11 local newspapers.

La Estrella is a profitable venture. Its main advertising revenue comes from national advertisers, despite its heavy local emphasis on the editorial side. In order to differentiate itself from the competition, La Estrella tries to appeal to bigger brands. As opposed to Dallas Morning News (English Edition), La Estrella is read both in Dallas and Tarrant Counties. La Estrella shares Spanish information and content with El Nuevo Herald (Miami) and Nuevo Mundo (San José, California), which are also owned by Knight Ridder. It is distributed free of charge through home delivery and racks.

In contrast to La Estrella, Belo wants to publish a daily newspaper in Spanish which will be available for purchase. Aldape notes that La Estrella continues to study the market and may adopt a new a strategy to compete with Dallas Morning News' Spanish venture.

Both newspapers' tactics have to be seen in the context of recent developments in the Dallas-Fort Worth publishing sector. In addition to La Estrella, Star-Telegram also publishes a separate, seven-day regional edition for the Airlington area: the Arlington Star-Telegram. Dallas Morning News, Texas's second largest daily, used to publish a seven-day edition for the fast-growing Arlington area. However, the 5-year-old stand-alone edition ended in April 2001, becoming instead a three-times-weekly insert in Dallas Morning News.

It's not all competition between Knight Ridder's La Estrella and Belo's Dallas Morning News. At the beginning of April both companies sponsored a “Bienvenidos a Texas” breakfast during the AHAA (Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies) conference in Dallas.

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