El Diario’s Woes Shine Light on Ethnic Media

Council members Ydanis Rodriguez, Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso at the Jan. 27 hearing on ethnic media (Photo by Gustavo Martínez Contreras for Voices of NY)

Council members Ydanis Rodriguez, Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso at the Jan. 27 hearing on ethnic media (Photo by Gustavo Martínez Contreras for Voices of NY)

With the largest Spanish newspaper in the city fighting for survival, local politicians are ringing the alarm in an attempt to keep community and ethnic media alive.

“The future of our community is at stake here. Publications like El Diario are fundamental to ask the questions that need to be asked and provide the information our communities need,” Sunset Park Council member Carlos Menchaca said Wednesday at a hearing before the City Council’s Committee on Immigration that he called to find out the state of the publications serving immigrants and minorities.

Just an hour before the hearing was scheduled to begin, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito issued a press release announcing an expansion of the city’s outreach and engagement with community and ethnic media outlets across the five boroughs. A new online directory of 200 media ethnic media outlets will be available to city agencies, and the city is committing to place more advertising and messaging in the ethnic press.

A small group of protesters, including former El Diario employees, gathered during the hearing on the steps of City Hall, urging the city to save the paper. To some the concerns expressed at the hearing about El Diario’s viability appeared too little too late, especially since the recent layoffs at El Diario were only the latest round in a series of belt-tightening efforts over the past couple of years.

The council members questioned how much city agencies spend to advertise programs and services in ethnic and community media.

“The city spends more money on the Daily News and the Post than in all the ethnic media combined. That’s a sad thing to say,” Council member Antonio Reynoso said.

According to the New York City comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, ethnic publications received 13 percent ($2.5 of $20 million) of the money the city spent on advertising between 2013 and 2015.

And although city ad spending shows increases across all publications in that period, this figure only climbed higher last year when the de Blasio administration launched the campaign to promote IDNYC among the 1.8 million New Yorkers whose language of preference is other than English.

“New York is a great hub of ethnic media because it is crucial for the life of New Yorkers. And I cannot imagine a city program functioning without the work of ethnic media,” said Nisha Agarwal, commissioner at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Gabriel Dantur, CEO of El Diario’s parent company ImpreMedia, welcomed the notion that the city might offer some support.

“Probably the first thing that comes out of my mouth is advertising. That’s probably the first way in which you can help because advertising means revenue and revenue means the way to carry on,” Dantur said. “Probably it’s not as simple as to say to invest twice as much, but what needs to be taken into account are the messages that the city needs to deliver to the ethnic community probably are more important than to the general market because there’s no alternative way to deliver them.”

But to some, getting more government money could compromise the newspaper’s independence. Addressing these concerns, Council member Ydanis Rodríguez said that the council only is considering saving an institution valuable to the Latino community.

“I don’t expect to be telling an investor who took a risk what to do,” he said. “The current situation is about legacy and working together to save El Diario.”

Numerous publications, including El Diario and Queens Latino, both offered testimony and covered the hearing. Other reports ran in UnivisionWorld Journal, NTDTV, Sinovision, Epoch Times and Gotham Gazette.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: A Conversation on Ethnic Media and NYC

  2. Pingback: Latino leaders: We need El Diario | This Is My NYC

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