English-language Newspapers Still Don’t Recognize Latinos as Part of Their Core Readership


LatinaLista — The story of Eli Gutierrez, a North Texan Mexican-American artist who spent his Fourth of July holiday finishing up a 17-hour walk over 50 miles leaving notes in the mailboxes of city council members and mayors to draw attention to discrimination against Hispanics and the undocumented, was a frontpage story in the Spanish-language newspaper Al Dia.

Artist Eli Gutierrez leaves a message about discrimination against Hispanics in the door of the Dallas City Council.
(Source: Al Dia)

The ironic thing was that while Eli’s walk was frontpage news on the Al Dia web site, the story didn’t get one mention on the newspaper’s sister publication The Dallas Morning News’ web site the same day.
Is it because the English-language paper doesn’t feel Hispanics are their readers or that Hispanics only speak and read Spanish?

In all fairness, on the same day as the story of Eli’s walk, the newspaper didn’t have any trouble printing two prominent stories featuring Hispanics: one that dealt with how many Hispanic homeowners are facing foreclosures on their homes due to receiving subprime loans and the other story about the young Latino boy who had been sodomized with a metal pipe by a white supremacist last year and who leapt to his death from a Mexico-bound cruise ship over the weekend.
Both of these tragic stories are newsworthy but Eli’s walk is just as newsworthy to a Hispanic-reading audience who don’t speak or read Spanish.
The trouble is convincing newspapers like The Dallas Morning News and others that have a Spanish-language product in its portfolio that English-reading Hispanics enjoy reading about positive stories about other Latinos — in English.
The real problem is that these newspapers don’t feel Hispanics are a part of their “core readers.”
In an article titled Damage Report that appears in this month’s Columbia Journalism Review, the authors profile The Dallas Morning News and the aftermath of the layoffs and buyouts the newspaper staff has undergone.
In the process, the newspaper’s management made some key decisions about who reads their core (English-language daily) product. It doesn’t bode well for Latinos:

In 2006, Moroney and Mong adopted a new strategy: focusing on the newspaper’s “core readers,” people who had subscribed to The Dallas Morning News for at least five years. They included older people, middle-aged news junkies, and people who love reading. They are wealthier and better educated than the general population.

That assumption leaves a lot of Latinos out of the picture, and a big chunk of the local community.
Hispanics are often accused of segregating ourselves via language. Yet for those Latinos who feel more comfortable in English, English-language newspapers are doing the segregating by committing a big disservice to those Latinos who could easily be their most loyal readers – if they were just recognized as being part of their core audience.
Eli should have left one more letter.