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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.

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  • George
    July 6, 2007 at 7:41 am

    You never say the nature of his complaint. Are we just to accept the fact that he has a valid complaint? Maybe he’s a nut and the press knows this. If it’s about immigration, perhaps people have realized that the largest ethnic group of persons given green cards every year is Latin Americans, thus proving that racial connection to the illegal immigration issue is a red herring promulgated by Latino political groups who just can’t get enough voters across the border by legal means.

  • Jesus B. Ochoa
    July 7, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    ” . . . who just can’t get enough voters across the border by legal means” – ? Whatever in the hell are you babbling about, George Bubba?
    You need to go back to school and take a refresher course in logic, bud. Most of us like our voters to be citizens, which “legal” immigrants, who survive the years of waiting and paperwork, surely ain’t.

  • Amanda
    July 9, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    George, she did state the nature of his complaint. It was urging the city councils to stop discriminating against Hispanics.
    If, as you said, he was “just a nut” would the Spanish-language press not be astute enough to realize this? Or do you believe that only English-language newspapers employ editors with enough intelligence to distinguish between valid news items and hoaxes?
    Your commentary has just illustrated the entire idea behind this story. Thank you George, for proving that Eli still has a long way to go.

  • Horace
    July 18, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    How many Spanish language newspapers cover non-Hispanic events? None. It’s kind of hypocritical to criticize English language newspapers without criticizing those written for ESL Spanish speakers.

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