Major Publishers and Media Execs Discuss the Future of Media Communications

Last night publishers and media execs from major outlets in Spain, Latin America and the U.S. came together to discuss the main challenges facing the media and where they will focus their efforts in the near future. The panel included Juan Luís Cebrián, CEO of Spain's Prisa Media Group; Susan Chira, foreign editor at the New York Times; Leopoldo Gomez Gonzalez, vice president for News at Mexico's Noticiero Televisa; Javier Martin-Dominguez chief of staff at Spain's RTVE; Javier Moreno Barber, deputy director of Spain's El Pais; and Chris Crommett, a senior vice president at CNN en español. The discussion was moderated by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón, who indicted Osama Bin Laden and 34 members of his terrorist organization for the attacks of September 11 and Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile.

The lively and at points confrontational debate focused on the business of news media, specifically the simultaneous trends toward the centralization of news media as major companies buy out smaller outlets and the decentralization as new technology including the internet and blogging lead to increasingly fragmented media. “The internet is challenging more established outlets in every way, calling into question the authority of existing media and challenging revenue structures as it [internet] finds new and more cost-effective ways for advertisers to reach consumers,” said New York Times foreign editor Susan Chira.

The panel also discussed media practices including censorship, news as entertainment, and the redefinition of “foreign.” Panelists called for a move away from defining foreign as “diplomacy and war” and a move toward presenting stories about how people, especially Hispanics, actually live both in the U.S. and abroad. Susan Chira said the New York Times is very aware of its growing Hispanic audience, one that is interested in news about Hispanics in the U.S. and in their home countries. Panelists also expressed their views on the proliferation of media targeting Spanish-speaking audiences in the U.S. “With the explosion of technology and the proliferation of Spanish-language media, we need to find ways to ensure quality and relevance in the news and information we are providing,” said Televisa's Gomez. Also of interest was the future of the Spanish-language in the U.S., a country known as the “language cemetery.” There were conflicting views as to whether Hispanics are holding onto their language more than other immigrant groups or whether they, like others before them, will abandon Spanish for English.

The panel was hosted by New York University's King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center as part of a series of talks promoting transatlantic dialogue.