Given the fact that the Hispanic population within the U.S.A. is overwhelmingly Christian, it comes as no surprise to see various outlets catering to this rapidly expanding segment of the population. IBL News (www.iblnews.) is a 24-hour online news outlet comfocusing on stories of interest to the Christian community, told from a Christian perspective. Liturgy Training Publications is a not-for-profit agency of the Archdiocese of Chicago that distributes its titles to people of faith through its website and print catalog.
The IBL News website started 8 years ago in Spain and did not start out as a Christian-focused website. A few years ago, however, President Michael Amigot decided to concentrate on the Christian theme: “Well, we are Christians, and cannot separate that from our journalistic job. Online news media is not a big business, certainly, and our activity is mission driven.”
Amigot does not see the Christian point of view as hindering in any way the voracity of what IBL reports. He states that the goal of his website is “to be accurate and insightful, and to always be looking for the truth, no matter what the results are.” He does maintain, however, that all news is coming from a point of view, pointing to news outlets like Fox news, which is commonly seen as having a conservative slant, and The New York Times, which is often criticized for being too liberal.
Amigot emphasizes that the religious perspective of his paper has nothing to do with political orientation. “We are not tied to any political party, nor do we mix politics with religion. I certainly do not think that a Christian point of view has to be right-wing, and don’t understand what one necessarily has to do with the other.”
IBLnews.com is promoted through a newsletter, has about one million registered users and receives more than a 500,000 page views per day. Over half of IBL’s visitors are Spanish, “but we expect that to change as we expand our presence in the USA and Latin America,” says Amigot.
Another outlet focusing on content for the Spanish-speaking Christian market within the USA is Chicago-based Liturgy Training Publications (LTP). The non-profit organization specializes in disseminating publications catering to the U.S. Catholic population through their website (www.ltp.org) and their 160-page bilingual print catalog. The catalog comes out twice a year with Fall and Spring editions, and has a circulation of about 43,000. LTP also does periodic direct mail supplements, new title promotions, and seasonal flyers. LTP’s direct mail efforts are both Spanish-language and bilingual. Their list was developed over an extended period of time through list swaps, buys, and meetings with buyers at conferences.
The organization also has a Spanishlanguage call center and separate toll-free line for Spanish-speakers.
LTP recently signed a distribution deal with Spain’s religious publishing house Edibesa. As part of the deal, LTP will now distribute virtually all of Edibesa’s 300 Spanish-language Catholic titles. As John Thomas, Director of LTP states, “With the addition of the Edibesa material to the material that we were already distributing for Centro de Pastoral Litúrgica (CPL) and Grafite Ediciones, including our own LTP titles, we now have over 1,000 Spanish language titles available in our catalog for distribution in the United States.”
LTP does not offer advertising on its website, instead deciding to focus on selling its publications. Although he declined to discuss metrics about the website and its visitors, Mr. Thomas did say that interest in their Spanish-language titles is increasing significantly with each passing year. LTP is also in the process of re-designing its website to be more accessible to Spanish-speaking visitors.
Mr. Thomas also said that LTP has noted an increase in the amount of Hispanic ministries and households with high-speed internet access, and that he is pleased with the growth in this area.
One interesting difference that Mr. Thomas notes about the difference between Hispanic Christians and white Christians is that “Hispanic Christians generally have more interest in Catholic devotions than our Anglo market, such as Devotions to Our Lady—novenas and the Rosary, information on Hispanic Saints like Juan Diego, general prayer book, etc..”
The publishing house is currently in the planning stages of developing a promotional e-newsletter which it plans to have ready by September of 2006. The newsletter will be primarily in Spanish and will focus on LTP’s Hispanic resources for its Hispanic clients.
LA OPINIÓN BEGINS PUBLISHING CONTENT IN ENGLISH
In recognition that many 2nd and 3rd generation Latinos are either unable to read Spanish or prefer to read in English, Los Angeles based La Opinión (Impremedia, circ. 125,000, daily, Spanish) recently began publishing a bilingual version of its “Vida Mejor” section.”Vida Mejor” is published every Thursday and covers a host of issues relating to health, housing, personal finance and education. “What we realized is that a lot of Latinos want to read our content, but are simply unable to because they don’t read Spanish. So in order to reach out to those people we decided to publish this section in English as well,” says Pedro Rojas, Editor in Chief of La Opinión. La Opinión also publishes Contigo, a free weekly product that is fully bilingual and has a circulation of 250,000 and is home-delivered. The publication has five zoned editions covering East LA, Montebello, Huntington Park, San Fernando, and Santa Ana. Contigo is similar in scope to the “Vida Mejor” section of La Opinión, and is described as a “shelf-life product that consists of original content relating to family life, home improvement, and computer issues.”
Asked whether La Opinión is moving toward being a bilingual paper Rojas responded, “I don’t think we will see a fully bilingual La Opinión in the near future, but we need to keep an eye on it and how our readers want to receive our content.”
NEW YORK TIMES SYNDICATES CONTENT OF MEREDITH’S SPANISHLANGUAGE PUBLICATIONS
New York Times Syndicate, a unit of New York Times Corporation, recently reached an agreement with Meredith Corp. to syndicate content from Meredith’s Spanishlanguage publications. New York Times Syndicate will sell content of Siempre Mujer (Women oriented content about Home, Family and Self-Improvement service) info Primeros 12 meses (Feeding, bathing, diapering and soothing), Ser Padres (Parenting. Whole Life Editorial approach), Espera (Health, nutrition, fitness, issues for expecting women). The New York Times Syndicate has a wide offering of Spanishlanguage content including Spanish translations of Martha Stewart’s stable of Englishlanguage magazines (Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia).
AL DÍA PHILADELPHIA LAUNCHES “AL DÍA WRITER’S GROUP.”
Hernan Guaracao, Publisher of Al Día announced the launch of a writers’ syndication service. The content will be focused on issues relevant to Hispanics. The service will produce op-ed pieces, feature articles, investigative reports and cartoons. It will start with a group of 5 writers including Wendy Hess who will write about immigration rights. The service will be marketed to Hispanic newspapers and other media outlets, including general market media. “This is an effort to move beyond hard news and provide informative and thought provoking fresh copy,” Guaracao said.