Eight weeks weeks into the job, Mr. Aldape reports that he is working assiduously with Hoy's General Managers and indeed the paper's whole team to achieve an up-to-date evaluation of their markets and how best to serve them. Hoy's approach will be to focus solidly on its readership. "Our paper should and will be a tool to help readers build and sustain successful lives," said Aldape when asked what he considers to be Hoy's primary mission.
One part of that mission, of course, is tailoring the various editions of Hoy to its distinct markets. Aldape says "There are vast differences in the readerships of our three markets. Los Angeles is populated in the main by Mexicans with a strong mixture of people from Central America while Chicago, though heavily Mexican, also has a large and established Puerto Rican community. As for New York, it is the great Latino melting pot with many people from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina and virtually any other Spanish-speaking country you can name. I am working closely with my management team to assess the varying needs of our markets. As a matter of fact, we recently had completed a quite thorough survey, though I'm not presently at liberty to talk about the results. Nonetheless, I can tell you that what transcends the differences between our marketplaces is the common language, Spanish, and what I'll call the generational bond."
One of the recent changes at Hoy was the elimination of its Wall Street Journal En Español section. Of that change, Aldape says "The Wall Street Journal En Español just didn't seem to fit our style. We have since done a research survey to help us determine what in that realm will most strongly appeal to our readers; as a result you can expect to see a new finance section in Hoy relatively soon."
Javier has many positive memories of his time at Knight Ridder/Diario La Estrella in Texas. He is, however, extremely stimulated by the added challenges of working for Hoy. "The canvass is much larger. And I might add that I love the great cities we service. Both our editorial and management teams are full of extremely talented professionals, which makes working with them very satisfying. Hoy has, and will continue to have strong commitments to high editorial quality and community service; I'm proud to be a part of that."
That is not to say all is easy sailing. Mr. Aldape mentions some of the main challenges facing Spanish-language print journalism today. "The media market is incredibly cluttered. Against the backdrop of a quickly changing scene, you must remain relevant to the reader. I mentioned before that we want Hoy to be a tool with which our readers can build and sustain successful lives. Different people among our readers have different definitions of success. For some, success centers on a good education for their children. For others, the focus is on building a nest egg in order to buy a home. For still others, being able to save money to provide assistance to relatives in their home countries is prime. We try to tailor our reports according to what we know of what our readers want and need. Staying on top of that is definitely a demanding activity."
Mr. Aldape also sees many opportunities for current-day Spanish-language print journalism. "Our readership is interested in assimilating and acculturating, yes, but they also want to maintain a clear link back to their culture of origin. This means that our readership has a wide range of interests, and I'm pleased to be working for Hoy, which has a lot of space and a lot of talent for serving those interests."
Among the elements which Mr. Aldape most values in journalistic writing style is consistency, and as editor of an NAHJ stylebook intended as a Spanish corollary to the AP stylebook, he has had hands-on involvement in furthering consistency in Spanish-language journalism and journalism covering the Hispanic community in the United States. He believes that the amalgam of various Spanish dialects being used in the United States will have a great influence on the Spanish language worldwide and that the aforementioned amalgam should be encouraged towards a cultured goal.
Mr. Aldape speaks also of the reasons why the Chicago and Los Angeles editions of Hoy switched to free distribution. "The L.A. market in particular is just inundated with media choices. Radio and TV are both free, no? People have busy lives, so we did this in order to remove any block in the motivation for reading our product, and indeed, in L.A. for example we have achieved great penetration, reach and depth of reach."
In sum, Hoy is, according to Mr. Aldape, very much a work in progress. "I am actively speaking with staffers in all three cities as well as with community leaders. You can be sure that our papers will be reflecting the interests of the various communities for which we publish."