Meeting Business Challenges for Community and Ethnic Media

Participants at the panel on how NYC government agencies and department advertised in community and ethnic media. From left to right: Richard L. Stein, publisher emeritus of The Riverdale Press, Bitta Mostofi, asssistant commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, John LaDuca, director of marketing and digital media at the Department of Education, PLauren Rivera, director of marketing at the Department of Health and mental Hygiene and Debra Halpin, assistant commisioner for creative services at the department of Consumer Affairs, ;meaning over to speak with audience member Gail Smith, Publisher of Impacto Latin News (Photo by Yeo Ram Choi for Voices of NY)

Participants at the panel on how NYC government agencies and department advertise in community and ethnic media. From left to right: Richard L. Stein, publisher emeritus of The Riverdale Press, Bitta Mostofi, assistant commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, John LaDuca, director of marketing and digital media at the Department of Education, Lauren Rivera, director of marketing at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Debra Halpin, assistant commissioner for creative services at the Department of Consumer Affairs, listening to audience member Gail Smith, publisher of Impacto Latin News (Photo by Yeo Ram Choi for Voices of NY)

Print may not be dead for the New York metropolitan area’s community and ethnic media, they may still get most of their ad dollars from print and they may yet garner more ad dollars from the city government agencies and departments in coming months and years. But they should be preparing themselves, creatively and with business confidence, for the day when they have to give up print for online publication.

That was the take-away message from “Challenges and Opportunities in the Digital Age,” an advertising conference organized by the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism on April 28. About 70 attendees heard from publishers, city officials, ad agency representatives and digital media experts on a wide range of subjects ranging from today’s tough business environment to how to develop alternative revenue streams.

CCEM co-director Jehangir Khattak said that the forum was designed to “bridge the information gap” confronting many community and ethnic publishers, who often operate under stressful conditions with limited financial and human capital at their disposal.

One of the concerns of many attendees has been the limited amount of advertising dollars that their publications have received from New York City government agencies and departments in their various campaigns. At one of the most well-attended sessions of the conference, Bitta Mostofi, assistant commissioner at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, described the new directory that city government agencies and departments are using “to ensure that we are reaching our target populations” on campaigns such as IDNYC.

Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (Photo by Yeo Ram Choi for Voices of NY)

Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (Photo by Yeo Ram Choi for Voices of NY)

Working with the community and ethnic media, Mostofi, said “allows us to be very smart and strategic about some of the programs and initiatives that we have coming through.” John LaDuca from the Department of Education noted that the directory also allows for “geotargeting” small pockets of the city by zip code, as well as by ethnic and demographic makeup.

Mostofi said that the city’s ad buy in community and ethnic publications had risen to about 25 percent of total dollars spent on advertising in 2015, up from about 15 percent the year before.

In a lively keynote presentation, Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, engaged the audience in a discussion of how to adapt to a changing media world. Talking about the concept of “digital first,” Jarvis stressed that he wasn’t against print. And, if media companies are actually making money in print, that’s great.

But, Jarvis stressed, the dynamics of the internet and mobile are universal and as he tells larger media organizations, “the more you can become fully sustainable digital enterprises the better.” He advises larger media organizations, he said, to “pick a date in the future” when they know that print will become unsustainable, and to develop a strategy to prepare for that day. While community and ethnic media may believe that date is a generation away – “and god bless” – it’s still important to prepare. He advised community and ethnic publications to look to the needs of their communities, even narrow slices of their communities, as a way of providing better and smarter journalism.

Other panels discussed how media outlets can best work with ad agencies and ad networks and how to sell digital advertising. Video segments of each of the sessions and the keynote speech will be posted shortly at the website of the Center for Community and Ethnic Media.

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