A content analysis of Hispanic newspapers offers insightful information about the interests of readers and the advertising dollars that follow them. According to research by The Readership Institute at the Media Management Center at Northwestern University in Chicago, the typical American newspaper offers a story mix emphasizing sports, politics, and disasters/crime. These three categories take up 56% of total story space. Additionally, most dailies devote 34% of space to local news, 16% to state and regional, 40% to national and 10% to international. Do Hispanic newspapers fit this picture of the general American newspaper or are they completely different? Steve Duke, project manager at The Readership Institute, tells Portadatm that the 2000 study did not include Hispanic newspapers, but that “presumably immigrant readers will be very interested in news about their country of origin.”
An analysis of New York papers Hoy, El Diario/La Prensa and Noticias del Mundo, done by Portadatm in December last year, confirms Duke's thoughts. On average, these papers devote 15.8% of their story space to cover news from Latin American countries and an additional 3.9% to general international news. Local news gets 18.7%. Interestingly, sports news (mostly Latin American) takes up 20.9% of these newspapers' pages.
According to Rossana Rosado, publisher & CEO of El Diario/La Prensa in New York, foreign news, particularly Latin American, is very important to Hispanic readers. “We are writing for immigrants with one foot here and one foot in Latin America,” Rosado said last fall at “The new faces of news” roundtable organized by the Center for Communication of City University of New York. Rosado pointed out that “the Latino is more sophisticated than the average American reader.” Juán González, columnist for the New York Daily News and a participant in the roundtable, claimed that immigrants tend to be more attuned to international news and more news conscious.” Rick Sánchez, of MSNBC, was struck by the enormous coverage English language newspapers devote to events in the Middle East and the very small amount of space they give to news about Latin America.
How-to and survival stories
While the Readership Institute's study did not analyze newspapers specifically targeted at Hispanic-Americans, it did interview more than 1,600 Hispanics (overall, the survey interviewed 37,000 readers and non-readers across the US) and asked them what newspapers could do to improve their service. Hispanics said that it was important for their newspapers to “respect their common ground and uniqueness.” At the top of the editorial priority list was “easy to read content,” so called “go and do,” or “how-to stories” were also popular.” Rossana Rosado, publisher of El Diario/La Prensa, tries to reflect this demand in the pages of her newspaper. “We try to emphasize how-to and survival stories which aim to give practical help to Latino immigrants and portray their experiences.” Next on the readers list of priorities were “community announcements,” followed by “health, food, home, fashion & travel.” Fourth and fifth on the list were advertisements for clothing, health/non food items, and ads for food and groceries.
It is important to note that customer service issues such as quality of paper/ink and delivery time were more important to the readers surveyed, Hispanic and non-Hispanic, than editorial content.
Interested in ads
The study also revealed that, on average, Hispanics read the newspaper (both English language and Hispanic newspapers) for almost 30 minutes on weekdays and 70 minutes on Sundays, slightly less than the "general population" surveyed. Only 30% of Hispanics read the newspaper on a daily basis, 50% on Sundays. This percentage is much lower than the US average – 50% read the newspaper on weekdays and 70% on Sundays.
Interestingly, the study showed that, of all ethnic segments, Hispanics spent the most time reading the advertisement in newspapers. 40% of Hispanics read the Sunday advertisements for more than 30 minutes – compared with 26% of their white counterparts spending that much time.