Javier Aldape: Hispanic Print Market in Context

Javier J. Aldape is an executive with The E.W. Scripps Company, a media company comprising newspapers, broadcast stations, syndicated information and licensing. He is responsible for identifying and developing print and online specialty publications in the company's newspaper markets. Portada recently caught up with Aldape to get his perspective on the Hispanic print market and where the new opportunities lie…
How is the business-driven decision making process for non-daily publications different that of daily publications?
One thing we focus on with our individual niche site directors is the importance of having a cohesive, focused and mutually agreed vision for each publication, and clarity about the specific audience segment we aim to serve. That has profound implications for the type of content, category of advertisers, distribution method, printing format, etc. that we choose for each product. In a sense, with niche we believe that everything needs to be assessed through a narrow filter – is it relevant to that audience segment, does it provide useful information, and does it create an engaging reader experience. I'm sure dailies are doing the same, but with niche publications the sheer amount of available space and the targeted reader segments are generally smaller, so the content needs to be even more focused.
Which are the four Hispanic publications in Scripps Newspapers?
We currently publish two editions of Fronteras – in Wichita Falls, Texas and Ventura County, California. Naples, Florida publishes its own weekly publication, Vista Semanal. We have a monthly in Abilene, Texas—Las Familias— that is published in both Spanish and English. And we have a partnership with La Voz in Treasure Coast, Florida.
Where do you see the most potential (audiences and type of product) in developing niche publications?
I always joke that we already have a rather robust portfolio, everything from a glossy city magazine to a motorcycle monthly. But one of the first things I did was to work with the individual markets to assess their local opportunities. Unsurprisingly, the answer to the "what's next?" question varies widely. But I am very bullish on health, fitness and other medical information, whether it be in the form of a monthly magazine or an annual guide of local resources and services. I think that publications that speak to core print readers, such as business journals and city-focused magazines are also a big opportunity.
For now, I'm focusing on local concerns, but further down the road there might be things we can do in multiple markets, or even with other companies. One example is our women's magazine, Skirt! We have licenses from Morris to publish Skirt! in four of our markets, and there is a fair amount of sharing and interaction that has proven beneficial to us. I'd like to see more of that.
You have been publisher of several daily Hispanic publications. Some of these publications converted into weeklies. When is a daily format not warranted for the Hispanic market and why?
I obviously can't speak to the rationale behind decisions I didn't make, but I do think that any "pull-back" that we've seen in Spanish print is reflective both of the broader economy and of competition inside those markets. Success for a daily? Aside from needing to execute your sales and editorial plan to perfection, with great efficiency at low cost, I do believe that there need to be three elements for success. First, you need a robust Spanish-speaking population, preferably in the neighborhood of at least 500,000 adults. Second, a recognition by both major and local retail advertisers that this market segment is a powerful, positive force with tremendous disposable income to spend on the things that young, growing families need — clothing, food, furniture, etc. Third, a singular focus on the wants and needs of your reader base, providing them the information they find valuable and useful to their lives. But even if you get all three, there's no guarantee of success.
Still, with such a small base of dailies, I'd hesitate to draw broad conclusions by looking at only a couple of examples. We still have competing dailies in three markets, and I think revenues are still growing, so it remains a key market segment.
What differences do you see in the attitude of the advertising community towards Hispanic publications and in the reaction towards general market print?
That's a pretty broad question, and I'm not sure it's really an appropriate example. I'd draw more of a comparison between attitudes toward Spanish-language publications and other niche products. There, the questions advertisers have are quite consistent – tenure in the marketplace, audited circulation, total readership, efficacy of delivery, marketing dollars dedicated to the publication, editorial vision, etc.
In terms of Scripps Newspapers revenues, what are the growth targets for its Daily Newspapers, Web sites, and niche publications?
We haven't publicly broken our revenue contributions in line with the categories you listed, but I can say that we see strong growth potential from both the online and niche categories. My focus is on the niche side, and it's my goal to increase that portion of the business from about 7 percent of total revenue today to 20 percent in five years.
To accomplish that, I've worked with publishers and many others in the field to craft an aggressive growth plan that includes market-specific initiatives as well as company-wide projects. Our plans include developing new products and improving our existing operations in some markets. I can't tell you everything we'll do along the way, but it'll be fun.