Content preferences among Latinos in the U.S. and Latin American markets seem to vary more depending on lifestyle and situation than on the country where readers live.
Publishers targeting immigrants and Spanish-speaking Latinos see more similarities than differences between Latin American and US Hispanic readers. “The biggest difference is geography. US Hispanics still want to know about what's going on in their home countries,” says Kerry Slagle, president of Atlantic Syndication, the international division of Universal Press Syndicate. Atlantic Syndication and Danilo Black of Monterrey, Mexico publish Fronteras de la Noticia, a weekly Spanish-language turnkey publication targeting immigrants and Spanish-speaking Hispanics.
Michael Malone, media specialist at Efe news agency, says that in the US Hispanic market there is a double focus. “Hispanics in the U.S. want to know what's going on back home and at the same time they want practical, pragmatic information about how to progress in the U.S.” Fronteras content reflects this double focus to a certain extent. Slagle says that the main difference between his content and content published in Latin America is the inclusion of features on Latinos who have been successful in the U.S. “A lot of the news from Latin America, as well as comics, puzzles and horoscopes would be the same as what you would find in Latin American papers.”
Hispanics who are fully integrated into American society aren't necessarily looking for news from Latin America. And they don't need practical information about how to navigate in a new culture. Still, many Latino journalists and publishers believe that “acculturated” or “bicultural” Hispanics want to know about or retain their cultural heritage. “Retro-acculturation,” as defined in Marketing to American Latinos by M. Isabel Valdés, refers to the “conscious search for ethnic identity or roots, especially by second-, third-, or fourth-generation Hispanic Americans who have lost some or most of their cultural traits.” This search is reflected in the increasing number of bilingual and English language publications targeting this subsegment of the US Hispanic market – a segment which is growing steadily as the Latino middle class continues to expand.
What kind of content do publishers want?
In terms of newspaper content, John Camarillo of Newscom, a news agency which provides content to Latin American and US Hispanic publishers, points out that many Latin American publications target a more educated reader, someone who knows a lot about what is going on in the world. Editorial content in US Hispanic papers tends to be less in-depth, so that it can be read and understood quickly and easily. “US Hispanic papers are written more for people who don't have a lot of time to spend reading the paper,” says Camarillo. Slagle says that while Fronteras does fit that description, he sees the move toward shorter articles and more graphics as a general trend in newspaper publishing. “In general, readership of more ‘in-depth,' or ‘intellectual' papers is down, not just in the Hispanic market,” says Slagle. “Nuestro Diario in Guatemala has a tabloid format – short articles and lots of graphics – and it's been very successful. After four years they have a circulation of 400,000.” Of course, there are exceptions. El Diario/La Prensa (paid circ. 55,000, daily, Spanish) in New York and La Opinión (paid circ. 125,000, daily, Spanish) in Los Angeles both have longer, more in-depth news stories. These are papers that have been around a long time and have an established, loyal readership.
In terms of demand for news content, Newscom's Camarillo says that US Hispanic papers, partly because they are small publications, but also because they are catering to a population that has roots in other countries, rely more heavily on news agencies. “They need everything – photos, features, news,” says Camarillo. Michael Malone of Efe believes this is also because U.S. publishers are still trying to figure out the best way to reach the Hispanic market. Latin American papers, on the other hand, purchase mostly photos from Newscom. “Their news is very localized, so they do most of the content themselves, except for international entertainment and fashion news – which is very popular in Latin America.”
Camarillo also points out that many Latin American publishers are very traditional. “They feel they need to have access to Reuter's and other established newswires in order to be a real paper.” Camarillo says that he is seeing this change as a new, younger generation is taking over leadership. “They're much more open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. They aren't as wedded to certain news services and are willing to take news from a lot of different sources.”