Since retail ads are the bread and butter of daily newspapers, the large chains have tried to enter the Spanish-language game, but the market daunts most. The Tribune Co. acquired 50 percent of La Opinión – the na-tion's largest Spanish daily, with a circulation of 108,000 in Los Angeles – and all of Hoy, a New York daily, when it purchased the Times Mirror Co. And in Miami, Knight Ridder Inc. runs El Nuevo Herald, the nation's second-largest Spanish-language daily.
Andres Tobar, executive director of the NAHP in Washington, D.C., says two-thirds of his organization's member papers publish in Spanish, with nearly all the rest in a bilingual format. What amazes Mr. Tobar about the market's development, however, is its geography. "They are springing up literally all over the place. We are getting more [newspapers] out of the South – places like North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. We didn't even know there were enough Latinos to maintain a publication in some of those places," he says.
Even in a market as small as Dalton, El Tiempo has landed advertising orders from Georgia Power, Ford Motor Co., and Sears, in addition to ads from many of the town's 139 Hispanic companies. And in larger cities and suburbs, Hispanic papers have caught the attention of major media conglomerates. "It's a major market that mainstream media are recognizing," says Mr. Tobar. "It's a vibrant economy that needs tapping, so they are going to pursue it."
Historically, ethnic papers – most of them free and unaudited – provided news about old homelands and lessons about the new one, but the top tier of Hispanic papers must move beyond nostalgia if they expect to survive. Rossana Rosado, editor of New York's El Diario/La Pren-sa, which sells about 53,000 copies per day, says major Anglo papers want a Spanish-language vehicle "to bring added value to their existing English-language product." But in Los Angeles, La Opinión has earned a reputation for cover-age of immigration issues, soccer, and other local matters affecting its target demographic (see "Seventy-Five Years and Counting," Market Watch, March). That pleases Jose Lozano, the 46-year-old publisher whose grandfather started La Opinión in 1926. "It was a Mexican paper published in Spanish in the United States, but we are turning it into a metro paper," he offers. The upgrade has proved expensive, Mr. Lozano says, and led to the Times Mirror, parent corporation of the Los Angeles Times, becoming an investor in 1990.
Miami's El Nuevo Herald leads a pack of Florida-based Hispanic papers. El Nuevo Herald reports an average daily circulation of about 92,000 and a combined circulation of about 443,000 with the Miami Herald. Several factors make El Nuevo Her-ald publisher Carlos Castaneda opti-mistic for the future: Miami is Latin America's financial and entertainment capital, the area's 1.5 million Hispanics have $18 bil-lion in buying power, and thousands of Cubans immigrate yearly. Equally important, Knight Ridder has taken a serious interest in the rise of minority demographics, particularly since it moved headquarters to San Jose, California. Nearly half of the city's population of 909,000 is Hispanic, Asian, or Pa-cific Islander. Thus Jay Harris, the San Jose Mercury News publisher, says creating the ethnic weeklies Nuevo Mundo and Viet Mercury, both of which will be prof-itable in 2000, was "a professional and business imperative, not just the right thing to do."
None of this might surprise Benjamin Franklin, who published the nation's first ethnic newspaper, the German-language Philadelphische Zeitung, in 1732. It didn't last long, but more than one thousand of its descendants are now published in 50 lan-guages nationwide. And according to Mr. Luna, the ones that will prosper know their readership better than anyone else.
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