When you consider the sheer number of Latinos living in the United States, and the fact that people are intrinsically interested in knowing about what is happening where they come from and may have family, what you end up with is a wealth of demand for Latin American news in the USA. The question is: Can content providers satisfactorily meet such overwhelming demand?
Carlos Verdecia is Editor in Chief of Tiempos Del Mundo, a Spanish-language weekly that is published in both the U.S. and Latin America. The paper’s scope is quite broad, dealing with major issues in Latin America, and the same version is published in both markets. When asked whether content providers were going to be able to meet the heavy demand for countryspecific Latino news, he responded: “Well I can really only speak for us. Tiempos Del Mundo reports on the major trends in Latin America. Being a weekly paper, we really aren’t in a position to break news. Instead what we do is to take dominant issues and examine them in-depth.”
MONEY SENT FROM THE UNITED STATES
Verdecia points out that one major area of interest for Hispanic audiences is politics. With so many families relying on money sent from the United States, there is a great amount of concern over the stability of institutions at home, and general political trends. The political trend to the left that is fermenting in Latin America is surely of interest to most Latinos, no matter where exactly they are from: “So what we try to report on are themes that have broad appeal and are relevant to wide-ranging audiences. There are about ten different major elections being held across Latin America in the next year. With the recent movement toward the left, you can bet that people are going to be very interested in how that situation develops,” says Verdecia.
Michael Malone, Media Specialist for Florida-based Efe News Services, sees personal relevance as the key to understanding the news demands of Latinos living in the United States. “There is the dated perception of the Hispanic audience in the U.S. as being this very homogenous group, when in fact it is quite the opposite. As a result, what Latino readers really want is personally- relevant news; the stuff that effects them directly.”
Malone says security issues and political matters from one’s native country are particularly important to Latino readers, since those issues have the greatest impact on the readers and their families living abroad.
Even broader-based content providers such as Newscom are responding to increased demand for content from Latin America. Sales Manager Courtney Carson told Portada® that Newscom recently signed a major deal with GDA (Grupos de Diarios America), a major Latin American news aggregator. The deal grants Newscom access to content from eleven Latin American dailies, spanning all of South and Central America. Putting the deal into perspective, Carson commented: “It is really quite a development, because it speaks directly to this demand among Hispanics for content from their native countries. For instance, if a Hispanic publication catering to a Colombian audience wanted to supplement their content, they could come directly to our database and perform a search that would provide them with various options to choose from.”
From all of the indications, Hispanic demand for content appears to be trending similarly to the general market: toward greater segmentation. As we see more specialized and region-specific content emerging, and as the infrastructure that delivers that content matures and develops, it seems likely that the supply will meet the demand for country-specific Hispanic news copy.
FOCUS ON: CONTENT FOR HISPANIC PARENTS
A Q&A with Michelle Morgante, Assistant Bureau Chief of the Associated Press in Miami
Q: Do you think that Hispanic parents' informational needs differ from Anglo parents?
A: Part of the answer depends on what income segment the publication is targeting. If it's middle upper-class, then the publications won't differ much from what you see in say Parents magazine: helpful advice on behavior, health, recipes, and lots of reviews on products such as toys, books and safety devices.
Q: What if the parents are newly-arrived immigrants?
A: If the target market is newly arrived immigrants or lower-income, then the topics would be more basic – how to get medical care, how to find a doctor, how to negotiate the school system, illness-prevention – and less concerned with product reviews.
Q: Do you think there is a demand for bilingual Hispanic parenting publications?
A: I believe the trend in Hispanic pubs is away from bilingual and more toward one language or the other. For example, Latina magazine is an English publication that has reduced the amount of copy being translated into Spanish. The Union-Tribune's weekly Enlace has veered toward nearly all Spanish content. And many of the staffers I talk to from Spanish-language pubs feel that mixing the languages muddles the publication's purpose.