Analysis: Focus on Pennsylvania


Eastern Pennsylvanian towns ripe for Spanish-language publications

Pennsylvania's newspaper industry faces some interesting opportunities and challenges when it comes to targeting the state's growing Hispanic population, particularly in the cities and towns of Eastern Pennsylvania. Although only 3.4% of Pennsylvania's population (total 12.3 million, 2003 figure) is Hispanic, some areas are very heavily populated by Latinos. Hazleton has a population of 22,000, 7,000 of which are Latino (mostly Dominican).

Hazleton's main newspaper the Standard Speaker (owned and operated by the Walser family, founded 1866) has a circulation of 23,000 and is sold in and around (within a 20 mile radius) Hazleton. Executives at the independently owned Standard Speaker are interested in reaching the town's Latinos but are unsure how to go about this. They say that the current version of the Standard Speaker does not appeal to Hispanics. In addition, local observers note that there is some tension in the town between the newly immigrated Latinos and long time residents. A publication explaining Hazleton's customs and history to newly arrived Hispanics and Hispanic culture to long time residents might help ease the tension. Such a publication could come in the form of a one page insert in the Standard Speaker, a weekly stand-alone or even a one-time special supplement (For examples see "Gannett steps up efforts to reach Latino readers," page 11, Portada® No. 4, July/August 2003).

The neighboring Scranton community has a population of 60,000 (10,000 Latinos). Times Shamrock, which publishes The Times Tribune (the largest U.S. newspaper ranked by household penetration [70%] in its community), and the Citizen's Voice in Wilkes-Barre (3,000 Hispanics) are planning to produce a Spanish-language weekly for Scranton and Wilkes Barre Latinos.

Almost no competition

General market newspapers with plans to publish Spanish-language pubs must compete with smaller independently owned Spanish-language newspapers. There is a Spanish-language paper in Hazleton called El Mensajero, published by Amicar Arroyo. The tabloid format monthly is 28 pages (80% advertising, 20% editorial). Another Spanish-language monthly La Voz Latina is published out of Scranton by Paul Oreck.

Changing demographics in larger Eastern Pennsylvanian towns like Allentown and Bethlehem has forced publishers rethink their strategies on how best to reach the Latino population. The Morning Call (Tribune, daily, circ. Mon-Sat 108,000, Sunday 144,000) in Allentown is looking to produce a Spanish-language publication. The city is about 25% Latino. The Morning Call circulates in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) which includes Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties.

Revenue opportunities for Hispanic publications are very high since there are few competing media outlets. These smaller Pennsylvania towns do not get Telemundo or Univision. Hispanic households have to be satellite TV subscribers in order to watch Spanish-language TV. Apart from low-powered Spanish-language radio, print media is one of the only viable ways to satisfy Latinos' needs for information and news, as well as businesses' need to advertise to this growing market.