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By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

Largely as a result of the recession, the ethnic media saw a mixed 2008.

There were stories of revenue losses, business closings and reorganizations, and also many examples of the ethnic media continuing to fare much better than the mainstream press.

In the end, for a sector that had been among the brighter spots in journalism, the year might best be described as bittersweet.

One trend that emerged toward the end of the year was print publications moving online because they could not afford to keep printing or to meet the changing tastes of readers. For those going online only, it was unclear heading into 2009 whether the strategy would work. It had already hastened one major paper’s demise. But the push online, whether online only or simply beefing up websites, marked a major change for a sector that has been mostly reluctant to make use of the Internet.

Barack Obama’s candidacy was a factor in this move toward almost up-to-the-minute news on the Internet, in some cases right to mobile devices.

The Obama candidacy, indeed, provided some of the “sweet” to the “bitter” for the ethnic media. African American media dedicated unprecedented resources. The Native American media covered the story heavily and had an increase in youth participation. And some sectors of the Spanish-language media benefited from extra attention from the campaigns in the way of advertising dollars.

Once the election was over, however, the year concluded on a tenuous note, with many waiting to see what their next move should be. As signs grew that the recession was deepening, the prospect of further losses in ad revenue posed a particularly serious threat to smaller organizations without much more to cut back on and with no other operations on which they could rely.

Content Analysis

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

How did two major players in the ethnic media in America—the African American and Hispanic—cover the biggest story of the year, the presidential race? And how did that compare to the press generally?

To find the answers to these questions, PEJ took a snapshot of Spanish-language, African American and English-language print and television media in the days leading up to and immediately after the historic election, the first to elect a person of color to the White House.

Over all, the African American and Hispanic ethnic media studied by PEJ offered a heavier emphasis on the ins and outs of voting, the election as a watershed in U.S. history and in African-American television a clear sense of celebration. Among the findings:

  • Both Hispanic and African American media took how-to approach to their election reporting than did the mainstream outlets. In many cases the ethnic media acted as teachers, voter-advocate and even watchdogs. Indeed, both Spanish-language and African American newspapers devoted more than twice the space as English-language ones to explaining specifics on voting, such as necessary documents and when polls close.

  • In addition to voting specifics, these news outlets also focused on protecting their audiences’ right to vote, reporting possibilities for irregularities and what to do if a person is unable to vote. Very little of this existed anywhere in mainstream media’s election coverage. 

  • African American print dedicated significant space – more than any other medium PEJ studied – to the historic nature of Obama’s candidacy and election. Almost a quarter of the election coverage studied was dedicated to the issue, twice that of mainstream newspapers.

  • African American broadcasts revealed more emotional, celebratory and casual reporting style that reflected what might be called cultural media rather than a strict journalistic approach.

These are some of the findings of a study of election coverage from October 30, 2008 to November 5, 2008.  PEJ studied the top three Spanish-language and African American newspapers, El Diario/La Prensa, El Nuevo Herald, La Opinión, the New York Amsterdam News, the Philadelphia Tribune and the Afro-American. PEJ then compared the content of those papers to the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

In order to get an accurate picture of the media coverage of the presidential election, PEJ studied all articles, columns and editorials in the front section of each newspaper, including opinion and editorial articles.

On the broadcast side, PEJ looked at the top Hispanic and African American television stations offering election coverage, Univision and the Black Entertainment Channel (BET).


The issue of Hispanics as a critical voting block was largely absent from English-language media during the campaign season.  Yet, Hispanics in the end played a significant role. There was record spending on Hispanic media and real-time Spanish translations of debates for the first time online. And as it turned out, the Hispanic vote proved crucial to Barack Obama’s victory. Hispanic voters numbered between 9.6 million and 11 million, according to exit poll data.1 And an additional survey reports that they voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a margin of more than 2 to 1, or 67% to 31%.2

Did Spanish-language media cover this election differently than their English-language counterparts? In the final days of the campaign, at least, the answer seems to be yes. 


As PEJ found in its analysis of coverage of the 2007 immigration bill, Hispanic print coverage of the election had more in common with its English-language counterpart than did Hispanic broadcast outlets. 

The difference that stood out most was in the relative prominence given to storylines such as the historic nature of the election, voting issues and daily events on the campaign trail.

Spanish-language newspapers focused much more on the historic aspects of Obama’s status as a mixed-race candidate than did mainstream newspapers. Fully 21% of its coverage focused on this theme, compared with 10% of coverage in English-language newspapers studied.

Top Election Storylines, Spanish-language vs. English-language Print
October 30-November 5, 2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: PEJ original content analysis

Many of the pieces also talked about how Hispanics felt deeply connected to the election of a minority to the highest office in the country and hoped it would lead to a breakthrough in race relations in America.
In a column entitled “More there than victory” Gerson Borrero in El Diario/La Prensa told the story of a white woman who had added Hussein to her name to show solidarity with Barack Obama after the candidate faced criticism for his Arabic middle name. The woman, whom he identified as Paula Hussein Campbell of New York City, said she saw the election as “a new beginning,” Borrero wrote. And her actions “formed part of the victory after years of racism and stereotypes that we never thought we’d see in our lives,” Borrero wrote. “That for sure gives us a victory far beyond electoral triumph.” 3

After the historic nature of election’s racial dynamic, the next most popular topic in Hispanic print media was coverage of voting issues, and in the Hispanic press this coverage was not only bigger than in the English-language papers, but it was also different in character.

Fully 20% of the Spanish-language print newshole was dedicated to voting issues vs. 14% in English-language newspapers.

And the stories were different in nature. Rather than reporting on the demographics, turnout predictions and analysis, as was the case in English-language print, more than half of the Hispanic voting coverage (11% of all voting stories) focused on familiarizing Hispanics with the voting process and potential irregularities. This coverage took a more “how to” approach to Election Day, including articles on the logistics of Election Day, such as what ID to bring and what to do if you are unable to vote. Other stories explained the Electoral College and examined reports of voting irregularities.

Voting Coverage Breakdown, Newspapers

October 30-November 5, 2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: PEJ original content analysis

On October 31, for example, La Opinión ran an article on page six entitled “Advice for Election Day,” that began with, “If you are voting for the first time in the United States this Tuesday, bring an identification document with you.” 4On November 4, El Nuevo Herald ran an article on the possibility of voting machine malfunctions due to high turnout on Election Day and El Diario/La Prensa reported that election authorities in New York and New Jersey would ensure everyone’s right to vote.

Beyond the mechanics of voting, the Hispanic media also paid close attention to the impact of the Hispanic vote. Coverage of the Hispanic vote accounted for 7% of election stories—the fourth-most common topic during the period studied (vs. 0.5% in the English language newspapers studied).

The extensive Spanish-language coverage differed in another way: a greater reliance on stories produced by wire news services such as the Associated Press.  Well over half the stories were staff-produced (64%, including staff-produced opinion and editorial pieces) but more than a third came from wire services (35%). That is well above the percentage of wire stories on the topic in English-language papers (.5% wire). The remaining 1% was stories reprinted from other news outlets.5

Finally, Spanish-language newspapers covered the international interest and impact of the election more than their English-language counterparts. Nine percent of Spanish-language articles were internationally focused, twice that of English print articles (4%). This was just behind the 10% of international coverage Spanish-language broadcast produced.

On October 30, for example, Nuevo Herald reported the impact an Obama win could have on the embargo with Cuba. In another, the paper reported that many Cubans in the U.S. hope an Obama win would relax travel restrictions to the island. La Opinión also covered the celebration in Kenya over Obama’s election via a wire story.


If Spanish-language newspapers emphasized trying to help their readers vote, the Spanish broadcaster Univision considered that its main mission. The largest Spanish–language broadcaster in the U.S. dedicated 28% of its election newshole studied during that week to voting, more than three times than the English-language broadcasters (8%), and nearly eight percentage points more than Spanish language papers (20%). And most of this—more two-thirds of all this coverage--was devoted to the how-to elements of voting, the mechanics of helping audiences actually vote, or how to avoid being discouraged or stopped from voting.

Top Five Election Storylines, Univision

October 30-November 5, 2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: PEJ original content analysis

Consider the package run by Noticiero Univision on November 3 about how first-time voters and new citizens could ensure their right to vote. The story also reported on some irregularities in New Mexico and named various organizations ready to help Latinos having trouble exercising their vote.  “It is estimated that in these elections, up to 2 million new Latino voters will exercise their right to vote,” anchor Maria Elena Salinas said. “A large part of them are new citizens of the United States, and for many, the electoral process represents a true challenge. During the last few weeks, we have offered you information about the electoral process that will help you vote… Today, we will inform you how to protect that vote.”.

Voting Coverage Breakdown, Univision vs. English-Language Broadcasters

October 30-November 5, 2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: PEJ original content analysis

After voting, the next three most common topic areas got equal treatment from Univision, at 7% each: the impact of the Hispanic vote, coverage of swing and red (Republican-leaning) states, and examinations of electoral map math. Two of the three were bigger topics here than in English-language TV. In the period PEJ studied, English-language broadcast did not cover the impact of the Hispanic vote at all and dedicated 5% of their election newshole to electoral map math. Swing and red states, however, got substantial coverage –12% of the election newshole.

And in a demonstration of a way in which Hispanic media are using technology to adapt to the shifting needs and demands of a changing audience, Univision dedicated a sizable portion (7%) of its election newshole to electoral map math.  Maria Elena Salinas unveiled a new digital map to measure electoral votes by saying, “Sometimes, images count more than words, and in our electoral coverage, for the first time, we have a digital map that can help us visualize the presidential contest.”

There were also some differences in how Univision and the three commercial American broadcasters produced their election news.  Univision invested more staff resources in edited packages and relied less on live interviews or brief anchor reads that are easier to produce.

International reactions and perspectives on the American presidential election was an uncommon topic across most media, but Univision dedicated a significant piece of its newshole to bringing viewers an international perspective. More than any other media source, regardless of ethnicity or sector, 10% of Univision’s election coverage had a significant international element. For comparison, only 2% of the English-language broadcaster’s newshole was dedicated to international coverage of the election during the time PEJ studied.  



Geographic Focus of Election Coverage 2008

Univision vs. English-language broadcasters, October 30-November 5, 2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: PEJ original content analysis

One story in particular that stood out was about a group of indigenous Shamans in Peru, who held a ritual on a beach in order to guess who the new American president would be. Another was a recap of Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque addressing the United Nations, calling John McCain a “political dinosaur,” speaking on how an Obama victory might affect the embargo against Cuba, but ultimately affirming Cuba’s “impartiality” in the U.S. election.

Spanish-language broadcasters displayed none of the emotional  during the period studied that we found during coverage of the immigration debate in Congress in 2007. HYPERLINK The coverage here, at least on Univision, was similar in tone and language to the major English-language broadcasters.

African American

African American media stood out as the most emotional in its campaign coverage and African American newspapers in particular acted as an election watchdog and advocate, urging African American voters to know and protect their rights and report irregularities.


In print, the biggest story line of all was the historic nature of the election given Obama’s status as the first person of color elected president. That storyline made up nearly a quarter of all the coverage during the period studied, 24.2%, compared with 10%in English language and 21% in Spanish.

Newspaper Coverage, Historic Nature of Obama Candidacy and Election

October 30-November 5, 2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: PEJ original content analysis

One particular angle here was a focus on elderly voters who never thought they would see the day they could vote for a black man for president. In its issue prior to election day, the New York Amsterdam News told the story of the Rev. Benjamin Wright, a 105-year-old Harlem man who enlisted the help of a state senator to cast his ballot and then broke into a song of celebration… “Last week, [State Senator] Perkins presented Wright with his ballot at his Harlem home, and the good reverend, in his Obama baseball cap, was visibly pleased. He expressed himself not just through conversation but also by belting out a song: the classic gospel song ‘Pilgrim of Sorrow.’ ” 6

Such emotion was easy to find throughout the African American coverage: “The world has been watching and will continue to watch, as a black man once more has been called on to salvage a country spiraling perilously out of control and in desperate need of a messenger of hope and promise,” a piece in the Amsterdam News said.

Voting issues were the second biggest storyline (16% of coverage) in African American newspapers, particularly possible voter fraud, irregularities and turnout issues. These issues filled 14% of the mainstream newspapers studied and 20%of Hispanic.7

Often these stories had the tone of a watchdog and advocate to African American voters, telling them to beware of certain voting issues and covering measures being taken by the presidential campaigns and organizations such as the NAACP to avoid voter fraud.

In the pre-election day publication, for example, the Amsterdam News ran an article, “Challenging Election Day Challenges,” which gave voters advice to come out early to avoid long lines, what voters should do if they are unable to find their name on the roll or if a voting machine breaks down. Similarly, the Philadelphia Tribune published “Keeping Voting Process Smooth and Painless.”

Voting Coverage Breakdown, Newspapers

October 30-November 5, 2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: PEJ original content analysis

Save for the top two stories – the historic nature of Obama’s candidacy and voting issues – the angles the African American press pursued varied considerably from English- and Spanish-language papers.

Top Five Election Storylines, African American Print

October 30-November 5, 2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: PEJ original content analysis

A topic that received considerably more attention in the black press than either the Hispanic or mainstream media was a reported foiled plot by white supremacists in Tennessee to assassinate Obama. This storyline accounted for 3.2% of African American print’s newshole in the days leading up to and after the election. Neither mainstream print nor Spanish-language print covered this story.

The reports were straight accounts of the arrests and crime, but the Afro American was particularly detailed in its description of the plan. The article read: “Cowart and Schlesselman are charged with possessing an illegal sawed-off shotgun, planning to steal weapons from a federally-licensed gun dealer and threatening a presidential candidate.” 8

It continued, “Court records state that the two were plotting a killing spree that was to include more than 80 murders of other African Americans before culminating with a potential suicide attack on Obama. They reportedly told investigators they planned to drive toward Obama at high speed while dressed in white tuxedoes and top hats and blasting with firearms from the windows of their vehicle.”9


Despite not having nightly news shows, BET and TV One, the two top-rated African American cable channels, did provide heavy news coverage of returns and events on election night. For this study, PEJ looked at the coverage on the top-rated network, BET,  and compared it to the election night coverage of Univision, the top Spanish-language broadcaster, and the major English-language network news broadcasts.

What viewers found on BET was a substantially different news experience than elsewhere, one focused on providing a forum for voices of young voters and young African Americans wrapped up in an emotional and historic moment. The atmosphere was less formal and results-focused than Univision and the major networks’ coverage, and stood out among all media studied for its lack of technological wizardry. BET’s electoral map was on paper and hung in the studio.  

BET’s election-night coverage began at 7 p.m. with the hosts of 106 & Park, a popular BET program, Terrence J. and Rocsi, decked out in VOTE T-shirts introducing rapper and hip-hop artist Q-Tip, who commented on the historic nature of the election. The hosts mixed the video countdown that typically marks their show with staff reports from Ohio and Atlanta and interviews with young African Americans who voted for the first time.

After 106 & Park, the coverage was turned over to Jeff Johnson, who served as the host for the night. From the beginning of the broadcast, it was clear that BET would assume the role of advocate and watchdog for African American voters at the polls. Johnson reported to the two hosts of 106 & Park: “You would not believe some of the tactics people are using to still try to get people out there to turn away. If you know somebody that’s at the polls and they’re in line you need to be their lifeline. Call them right now tell them to stay in line. Tell them don’t come home,  they can’t get in the door, they can’t eat if they leave the lines.”

In a report from Spellman College in Atlanta, the historic nature and importance of the election to African American community was also evident. A student told an interviewer: “There are people who gave their lives for us to be able to vote. The least I can do is stand there and wait.”

 Along with comprehensive coverage of results and returns, BET also broadcast staff reports from Phoenix, Ohio, Atlanta and Chicago. Johnson was joined for a good portion of the night by expert commentators and he mixed interviews with campaign officials and prominent African American political figures with reports from the field. The coverage included a series of town-hall like discussions on what Obama means for African American men and African American culture and how this election would affect America’s standing in the world.

Just after 11p.m., BET declared Obama the winner and the studio exploded with applause and cheering.  Johnson intoned:  “There is no way you can hear this news and in some way shape or form not be moved. As a journalist, I’ve been attempting to maintain composure and report this, but this is history, and this has changed the entire world. And if you have not been affected by this emotionally, not just as a person of color but as an American, then clearly you’re disconnected from humanity.”

Spanish-Language and African American Coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election: Methodology


For the daily newspapers and broadcasts, PEJ studied the period October 30-November 5, 2008. For the African American papers that do not publish daily, PEJ studied any issues available between October 30 and November 5. If there was no issue printed on November 5, PEJ studied the first issue published by the paper after Election Day.  In print we studied the front sections of three Hispanic and African American papers — La Opinión, El Nuevo Herald El Diario-La Prensa, and the New York Amsterdam News, Philadelphia Tribune and Afro-American. PEJ compared these ethnic sources to three English-language papers — the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

In broadcast we studied the three English-language commercial television network evening newscasts and the PBS NewsHour, Spanish-language evening newscast on Univision and election night coverage on BET. It should be noted that BET does not have nightly news programming, so the only day PEJ looked at BET was on election night. 

During this period all stories that were at least 50% about the presidential election or, after the election, about the new Obama administration were captured for analysis.

Story Capture

Five of the of the nine papers — the Amsterdam News, Philadelphia Tribune, the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times — were collected by conducting a simple LexisNexis search, which allowed us to determine the placement of each story. Since El Diario-La Prensa, La Opinión, El Nuevo Herald and the Afro-American were unavailable on LexisNexis, hard copies of the papers were obtained through, a Web service that provides exact digital copies of each newspaper, and all relevant articles were obtained. The exception to this was the Afro-American, which was not available in hard copy. In this case, PEJ captured the website and relevant articles each day (October 30-November 5) for the newspaper. PEJ collected and studied all stories on the presidential election appearing in the front section of each paper. The papers were selected based on circulation and geographic relevance to show the differences between different markets, since Hispanic and African American newspapers do not circulate nationally.

The broadcast stories were obtained by recording the Univision and BET broadcasts on the relevant dates using PEJ’s recording equipment. English-language broadcast stories were collected from PEJ’s news index archives, which contains daily network broadcast news programs. PEJ’s normal practice is to code only the first 30 minutes of a news broadcast if the program airs for over one hour, but in the case of all broadcast sources in English and Spanish, save for the evening PBS NewsHour, all programs air for 30 minutes. In the case of PBS, PEJ coded only the first half hour.

Coding Design

Once the stories were collected, PEJ used the content analysis method employing software designed to organize the stories according to specific variables. We selected several different variables that would allow us to measure each article quantitatively and qualitatively. For this project, the English-language stories had already been coded and identified in the News Index as being on the presidential election, and PEJ went back in the database and isolated those stories and combined them with the Spanish-language and African American stories in the database. The stories were categorized by:

  • program or publication
  • date
  • format
  • story describer
  • three main sources

The story describer serves the purpose of allowing us to quickly identify a story based on content and gives a brief description of the material covered in the article. The three main sources variable specifies where the reporters obtained their information from when they relied on an outside source. Quotes from politicians or activists, statistics from organizations and interviews with citizens all are considered sources.
The qualitative aspect of the project focused on examining the articles for tone, language use and any other similarities or differences found in both print and broadcast. The stories were compared to one another in their respective languages and mediums and were then compared in English and Spanish to draw comparisons.

All stories were coded in their original language.


1. Press release, “Latino Vote a New Force in Shaping the Election 2008 political Map,” National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), November 7, 2008.

2. Mark Hugo Lopez. “The Hispanic Vote in 2008”. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, November 2008.

3. Gerson Borrero. “Más  allá de la Victoria.” El Diario/LaPrensa. November 5, 2008

4. Gabriel Lerner. “Consejos Para el Día del Voto.” La Opinión. October 31, 2008

5. The three Spanish-language newspapers were similar in their use of wire stories with El Nuevo Herald at the top (40%) followed by El Diario/La Prensa (33%) and La Opinión (32%)

6. Demetria Irwin. “105-Year Old Harlem Resident Votes for Obama.” New York Amsterdam News, October 30, 2008 Issue

7. Of the coverage of voting issues, stories on the mechanics of voting and irregularities made up 9.7% of the election newshole for African American print. Analysis of voter turnout and demographic shifts accounted for 4.8%. And stories on early voting made up 1.6%. 

8. Dorothy Rowley. “Skinheads Ordered Held without Bond in Obama Assassination Plot.” Afro-American Online. November 1, 2008.

9. Dorothy Rowley. “Skinheads Ordered Held without Bond in Obama Assassination Plot.” Afro-American Online. November 1, 2008.

Hispanic Media

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism


For the nation’s Hispanic media, 2008 had all the makings of a great year.

A population that already represents 15 percent of Americans was projected to keep growing. Hispanic television broadcasters continued to see audiences expand. Some newspapers and broadcasters made significant online gains. And in an election year, the nation’s largest minority group attracted special attention from candidates in the hotly contested – and record-spending -- presidential campaign.

In the end, the year proved by no means dismal but neither did it match several years of strong growth.  And the outlook for 2009 was cautious.

Several newspapers saw circulation grow, and some smaller ones expanded their markets or transformed themselves from weekly papers into dailies. Seattle’s Sea Latino launched national editions in key markets with the ambitious goal of being the “USA Today of the nation’s Hispanics.”

ImpreMedia, a group of Spanish-language newspapers, launched, a major online news portal hoping to appeal to the growing number of Hispanics online.

And a major television broadcaster, Univision, again outperformed its English-language counterparts in prime-time programming and in news ratings in key markets. Its rival, Telemundo, enjoyed a boost in ratings and struck a deal to export programming to Mexico.

The number of bilingual media outlets also continued to grow, at least through the first half of the year, targeted at a burgeoning population of second- and third-generation Hispanics.

But there were signs of troubles, too. The three biggest Spanish-language daily newspapers all had declines in circulation of varying degrees. And revenue declined at both major television networks. The Spanish Broadcasting System, a radio chain, was threatened with having its stock de-listed by Nasdaq. And in a year when all Hispanic media expected to be showered by ad dollars from the presidential campaigns, broadcasters did not benefit enough to make up for other losses and print received little benefit at all.

The television giant Univision headed into 2009 with challenges, although the company dodged a bullet early in 2009. It settled a lawsuit by one of the largest media companies in Latin America, the outcome of which could have had a major impact on the Spanish-language television landscape. The settlement ensured that it would be able to keep the 40% of its programming that was at stake in the lawsuit.

Heading into 2009, the full force of the economic collapse remained to be seen. Especially vulnerable are the smaller, community-oriented Hispanic outlets that do not have deep capital reserves and rely on struggling small businesses for ad dollars. But Hispanic media have two advantages:  they offer information in a way the mainstream media do not and many have demonstrated an ability to adapt to a culturally and linguistically diversifying population.


In a year of large circulation drops for many mainstream newspapers, several major Hispanic publications were able to hold the line.

Of the three biggest dailies, two experienced slight circulation declines but not nearly the 4.6% drop experienced by mainstream newspapers in the United States.1 The third, and biggest, La Opinión of Los Angeles, dropped considerably, something the editor attributed to a price increase.

New York’s El Diario/La Prensa, the oldest Hispanic daily newspaper in the country, had a daily circulation decline of one-half of 1 percent for the six-month period ending September 30, 2008, compared with the same period a year earlier.

The newspaper’s average daily circulation Monday to Friday fell to 52,857, compared with 53,122 in 2007. The circulation has been on a slow but steady decline since 2001.2

In Miami, El Nuevo Herald dropped slightly to 77,295 Monday to Friday, down from 77,566 in 2007.3

The third big daily, La Opinión of Los Angeles, fared much worse. After an increase in circulation in 2007, its average daily circulation fell 20% to 100,462 in the six-period month ending in September of 2008, from 124,784 in 2007.4

The drop was largely tied to the paper doubling the price of a single issue from 25 cents to 50 cents, a move designed to make up for the higher cost of newsprint and staff, according to executive editor Pedro Rojas. As a paper that relies solely on single-issue sales, the loss, says Rojas, could have been much worse. He said the paper’s management expects this to be a one-time loss with circulation holding steady in 2009.5

Circulation of Major Spanish-Language Dailies
For the six month period ended September 30 2001-2008

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations publisher’s statements

Some of this decline may also be related to the Southern California market. The major English-language paper in the market, the Los Angeles Times, had a decline in circulation of 5.2% during the period.

If the big Spanish-language dailies had a mixed year, the news was better among smaller outlets, although some of the numbers are un-audited. Some smaller daily papers were able to increase their circulations and expand into new markets.  One hit a milestone in 2008, converting from a weekly to a daily and giving New England its first Hispanic daily.

Another daily, Al Día, in Dallas/Fort Worth, tripled its Wednesday and Saturday circulation from the year before to 120,000. Average circulation for its other publication days remained even at about 38,000.  The Wednesday-Saturday growth was attributed to the expansion strategy of its parent, which also operates the Dallas Morning News, to target reader segments.6 As part of the strategy, the Dallas Morning News is aggressively seeking targeted readerships with publications.

Al Día’s marketing director, Isaac Lasky told Portada magazine, “Being the only [Hispanic] daily newspaper in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metropolitan area we found an underserved market and advertisers told us that a larger circulation was important to reach critical mass and be able to capture this dynamic market segment.” 7

There were signs, however, that the universe of Spanish-language dailies was contracting. In 2007, the latest year for which data are available, the number of dailies fell to 33 from 38 the year before.


Spanish-language weeklies, on the other hand, had a more upbeat 2008 – at least before the economy soured.

But these papers also carry a lot of vulnerabilities in a bad economy. Generally, weeklies are started up in emerging Hispanic markets that are not large enough to support dailies of their own. They may also be family operations that do not have the resources to publish daily. A few are also former struggling dailies that cut back frequency.  

Over all, the number of Spanish-language weeklies appears to be growing. There were 417 weeklies in 2007, the most recent figure available, compared to 384 the year before. Less-than-weeklies also increased from 346 to 377.  8

This continues a trend we have seen in the last few years: a decline in the number of dailies while weeklies continue to grow in number.

Number of Hispanic Newspapers
by publication category 2005-2007

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA

In 2007, the total circulation for weeklies grew by 6%, according to the Latino Print Network. Less-than-weeklies did the next best, growing by 1.6%.9

El Clasificado, a free weekly that mixes classified ads and some newswire and press release content, increased its circulation by entering new territory. The Los Angeles-based paper expanded its reach in 2008 from Los Angeles into San Diego and Ventura Counties in California. By doing so, its weekly circulation grew to 360,000, up from 270,000 in 2007.10

Siglo 21, a Lawrence, Mass.-based weekly, expanded its readership by increasing its frequency. It converted to Monday-to-Friday and became the first Spanish-language daily in New England.11

U.S. Total Circulation of Hispanic Newspapers
by publication category 2005-2007

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA

Another sign of maturity is the number of papers willing to have their circulation audited, something that is important to advertisers but requires more organization and funding. This has always been an obstacle to many outlets in the ethnic press, and in 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, the number of audited dailies fell by three in 2007 after growing by one the year before. The total number of weeklies participating in audits rose to 127 in 2007, up from 112 in 2006 and 104 in 2005.12

Number of Audited Hispanic Newspapers
by publication category 2005-2007

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA

Future Outlook

What do the circulation trends mean for Hispanic papers? Compared to the overall drop in traditional daily print circulation, posting only small declines is seen by many as an achievement.

But in the context of the changing Hispanic population, the dailies still may face a problem:  Native-born Hispanics now outnumber Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. Native born second- and third-generation Hispanics are more likely to speak and read English, use the Internet and, like those in other demographics, are getting more of their news online. For now, a majority (60%) of the native-born is under the age of 18, but as they age, their impact on the survival of Hispanic publications is likely to grow.

Pedro Rojas, the executive editor of La Opinión in Los Angeles, says that despite these changes in the population, Hispanics as a group still consume news in Spanish because “mainstream media do not cover Latino issues as well as Hispanic publications, and that is one of our strong points.” With his experience in Los Angeles, one of most established Hispanic communities in the U.S., he says he is convinced that “the number of Spanish-preferred readers is still strong enough to sustain a daily publication.”13

The three major Hispanic dailies have boosted or initiated an online presence, and more papers have begun to see the value of appealing to an audience in both online and in print. ImpreMedia is the model for Hispanic print here, and in 2008 launched a web portal combining all of their newspaper content in one site.

Weeklies, on the other hand, have continued to grow with the new pockets of Hispanic communities across the country. Weeklies are often the first type of paper to emerge and historically have been more likely to serve immigrant populations. Eventually, if the market was strong enough, the weeklies would segue into dailies. Examples of this are Hoy in Chicago and Siglo 21 in Massachusetts.

Now, Kirk Whisler of the Latino Print Network, a firm that studies and facilitates ad buys for hundreds of Latino publications, suggests, that may be changing. The growth in number and circulation of weeklies represents, Whisler says, a trend “away from strong dailies in key markets and toward many more quality weeklies. Weeklies may be becoming a better fit for people’s media habits.”  In addition, the fast-paced news of the Web may be less of a threat to a publication that takes a longer look at news.

 One thing that could slow the audience growth of weeklies is slower rates of immigration. Although it is uncertain whether immigration from Latin America has decreased, the Wall Street Journal reported that data from the Census Bureau showed that “the decline in the economy coupled with a government crackdown on illegal immigration is dramatically slowing immigration to the U.S.”14


Ratings showed continued demand for Spanish-language television programming amid a Hispanic population that is diversifying in both language preferences and cultural identity. 

Univision and Telemundo, the two major competitors in the Spanish-language broadcast arena, each saw their audience grow in 2008, although they achieved that success with different strategies.

Univision, the bigger of the two Spanish-language networks, tends to heavily favor Spanish-language programming imported from other countries. In recent years, Telemundo, owned by NBC, began exporting its programs to Mexico, marking a major change in the flow of Spanish-language television programming. The network has focused more on producing original programming in the U.S. to reach the growing population of U.S.-born Hispanics. Telemundo news anchors also appear on parent company NBC’s news programs.15

Each strategy appears to have its advantages.


Univision showed impressive ratings numbers in 2008 during the two most important sweeps periods, May and November, beating some of the big English-language networks on many nights during prime time in markets with high Hispanic populations.

In those markets, Univision beat out one or more of the four major broadcast networks during primetime 26 out of 27 nights of the May sweeps, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.16 The network ranked as the most-watched network out of all major networks (regardless of language) among adults aged 18 to 34 four nights during May sweeps. It also increased its prime-time audience aged 18 to 34 from the same period the previous year by 3%, to 1.23 million in 2008 to 1.19 million in 2007.17

Univision’s news programs were a part of that success. Its news magazine increased its audience, its national news program was ranked high in Los Angeles and New York, and the local evening news in Los Angeles continued its long streak of beating out the English-language news. Univision’s news magazine show, Aqui y Ahora, garnered its most impressive performance to date during May sweeps. Ratings were up 19% among all viewers in 2008 from the same period in 2007.18
November, generally the biggest month for television ratings, also brought Univision success in the local market of Los Angeles. Univision’s local Los Angeles station, KMEX, was the top-ranked station in any language in prime time for adults for the 19th consecutive sweeps period and its local news program was ranked the top local news program.19 

Univision’s national network also performed well in Los Angeles during the November sweeps. It national news program Noticiero Univision was the most watched nightly news program.

By the end of 2008, KMEX in Los Angeles was the No. 1 most-watched station in the country among viewers age 18 to 49, regardless of language.20

The success in ratings for Univision in its news and prime-time programming is  tied to the growing Hispanic population, which continues to demand culturally relevant Spanish-language programming like the popular telenovelas (melodrama series) as well as news from a Hispanic perspective. But the ratings increases are also partly a result of Nielsen’s decision in 2007 to drop its separate Hispanic rating system, according to some industry observers.

Before the decision, Nielsen ratings counted Hispanics separately from the general market. Under the new system, Hispanic homes are now counted as part of Nielsen’s general sample. 

“We’re finally able to look at the delivery of the Spanish-language TV programs and how they deliver nationally in the U.S., regardless of language,” said Isabella Sanchez, senior vice president of Tapestry Partners, a multicultural marketing firm.21


Telemundo, a unit of General Electric’s NBC Universal, also enjoyed strong viewership growth in 2008.

The company reported that Telemundo had posted its best November ratings performance in 16 years among total viewers in weekday prime time. The network reached 1.2 million total viewers for the period, a 27% increase from the same period in 2007, according to Nielsen.22 With these ratings increases, the network tagged itself 10 weeks into the 2008-09 season, as the “fastest growing Spanish-language network this season.”23

Earlier in 2008, the network had a boost in ratings that it attributed to NBC’s broadcast rights to the Beijing Olympics. The network’s ratings jumped more than 20% during the Games.24
The Spanish-language network drew 12 million viewers during the first 10 days of the Olympics. That included 380 hours of coverage it produced and 24-hour coverage online at

Future Strategies

There is debate over which of the two major networks’ strategies will succeed in reaching their audience as the Hispanic population continues to grow and diversify into new segments. In the end, the success of the two networks will depend upon how each adapts to the changing population and it makes use of advances in media technology.

Now that the Hispanic population comprises more U.S.-born Hispanics than immigrants, Telemundo’s strategy of focusing more original programming for second-  and third-generation Hispanics has obvious logic.

 “If you’re born here, you don't have the same affinity for the home country,” Julio Rumbaut, a Miami-based media consultant, told Broadcasting & Cable in 2007. “That’s why U.S.-produced programming is much more appealing to that demographic. It reflects people’s lifestyles.” 26

Telemundo argues that it is the “only Spanish-language network to air four consecutive hours of original content in prime time Monday through Friday.”27 In 2008, Telemundo announced a partnership with TV Globo, a Brazil-based Spanish-language content provider. Under the agreement, Telemundo Studios in Colombia is to produce the telenovela El Clon and have exclusive broadcast rights for the U.S. and Puerto Rico.28

Telemundo also has a bilingual cable channel and sister website, Mun 2 and, to target younger bilingual and English-speaking Hispanics. The channel and site often use Spanglish, the melding of English and Spanish in its original programming. The cable channel was launched in 2001.

On the other hand, Univision’s size and reach may allow it to continue to dominate, and it has shown some signs of adapting to the changing demands of the Hispanic market.

In 2008, Telefutura, a broadcast television network owned by Univision, premiered an original telenovela made in Colombia.29  In 2007, Univision also took steps to create original programming targeted at U.S Hispanics, signing an agreement with Disney-ABC International Television Latin America to create a Spanish-language spinoff of the prime-time hit “Desperate Housewives.”30 In the same year, Univision teamed with Nuyorican Productions to create an original miniseries produced by Jennifer Lopez called “Como Ama Una Mujer” (How A Woman Loves).

But with the population picture changing, if Univision continues to rely on mainly imported programs, some in the industry have said that the network could face challenges.

“While Hispanics are becoming bilingual and are increasingly likely to watch English-language TV, Univision is in danger of losing viewers with a schedule that is composed nearly entirely of Mexican programming,” Broadcasting & Cable reported in 2007 shortly before Univision’s sale was completed.31

For the last several years, Hispanics have pretty evenly divided their radio news listening habits between English- and Spanish-language programs. Spanish news/talk stations still attract more total audience, but it dropped slightly in 2007, while the audiences for English-language stations remained steady, according to Arbitron.

In 2007, the latest year for which data are available, Spanish news/talk stations attracted 1.7 million listeners per week. This amounted to 3.3% of all Hispanics who listen to radio and was down slightly from 3.5% in 2006. 

English-language news/talk stations accounted for 2.5% of Hispanic listening, a figure that remained level with 2006.

The number of stations offering news/talk format in Spanish, however, still managed to grow slightly, from 61 in 2006 to 63 in 2007.

Weekly Spanish vs. English News/Talk Radio Listening
2006 & 2007

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Arbitron Ratings Reports: Hispanic Radio Today 2006 & 2007
*Arbitron began measuring Hispanic News/Talk radio listening in English in 2006.

But further declines in listening may follow if immigration slows and English usage grows among American Hispanics. Another challenge is aging demographics. A greater portion of Hispanic listeners to Spanish-language news/talk is 65 or older (31% for Spanish-language news stations versus 21% for English-language news stations). This could be a sign that the format may struggle to attract younger listeners, who are bilingual or speak only English and are less likely to listen to talk radio than older generations.

The most popular format of all? Mexican regional music, which attracts 21% of all Hispanic listeners.

One of the biggest issues in radio in 2008 was Arbitron’s unveiling of the portable people meter for measuring audiences. The new system encountered stiff opposition from many urban radio stations catering to black and Hispanic listeners after test periods for the devices showed sharp drops in ratings for some of those stations. Many radio executives of urban radio stations said the new system underrepresented minorities and were concerned that the lower ratings would make it more difficult to attract advertising dollars.

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo sued Arbitron in October over the ratings system’s representation of minority listeners after the company released preliminary ratings to radio stations in New York, one of the test cities.32

Early in 2009, Arbitron settled the Cuomo lawsuit. Under the terms of the agreement, Arbitron said it would fix flaws in its methodology, pay $260,000 to settle claims and contribute $100,000 to minority broadcasters. Arbitron was also required to fund a study to remove any bias from the ratings system by adjusting its samples to be more representative of minority listeners. If the company fails to make the changes, Cuomo has the option to reinstitute it by October 15, 2009.33


In a difficult year, the financial results for Hispanic media offered a conflicting picture.

Some experts think Spanish-language media may actually be better insulated from the economic turmoil than general media. First, the Hispanic population is expected to continue growing despite trends showing a short-term slowdown in immigration. Also, advertising in Spanish-language media is generally cheaper than in general market outlets and allows advertisers to reach those who prefer or speak only Spanish, a market most mainstream media do not capture. These things combined make some Hispanic marketing executives think that they and the media they represent will be able to get through the financial crisis and its fallout with only minor damage.34
But if major advertisers do pull back ad dollars, “The Hispanic market will suffer sooner,” said Al Cruz, communications director of Mediaedge:cia Bravo, a Hispanic media firm.  “Because our budgets are significantly smaller, we may see it sooner or faster than the general market will.”35

Early indications for 2008 are not encouraging. Ad spending in Spanish-language television, newspaper or other media, was up a mere 1.5% during the first half of the year, according to Hispanic Business magazine. That compares with double-digit annual growth in recent years.36 And the 2008 numbers do not account for the effects of the financial crisis that worsened in the second half.

One thing in 2008 was clear: The financial results for Hispanic media offered less positive news than did audience information. Revenues started out strong for the year but then dropped markedly in the third quarter when the financial crisis came to a head. And ad sales from political advertising, especially from the presidential candidates, although plentiful, did not live up to the expectation that they would make up for the losses elsewhere.


The economics of Hispanic newspapers were mixed in 2008 and looked troubled going into 2009. And some of the biggest publications were already mainly trending downward in revenues.37

The results varied, depending in part on the regional economy, because Spanish-language print outlets rely more on regional and local advertising dollars than on national sources. Publications in places suffering more from the housing slump reported declines as early as the second and third quarters of 2008. Those in other areas reported slight increases in ad revenues.38

And all that was before the economy fell in September.


Although comprehensive figures were not available at press time, there was evidence that Hispanic newspaper revenue took a hit in 2008.

The trade publication Portada surveyed publishers and concluded in its September 2008 issue that the degree of impact varied by market. 

“Markets in which the real estate crisis has hit particularly hard (Florida, Nevada and Arizona), have had a substantial decrease in economic activity,” the magazine said. “The real estate crisis has hit them in two ways: On one hand, due to the lower economic activity (particularly in ‘Hispanic intensive industries’ such as construction) general advertising spending has decreased. On the other hand, real estate display and classified advertising, an important source of newspaper revenue, has plummeted.”39

This follows a difficult 2007, a year in which total newspaper revenue had dropped by 2% to $1.200 billion from $1.222 billion in 2006. 40

Dailies were hit hardest in 2007. Their revenues were estimated to total $709 million in 2007, down 2.3% from $726 million the year before. 41

Weeklies also suffered. Their revenues dropped 1.6% to $444 million, from $451 million in 2006.The one category that increased in revenues in 2007 was the less-then-weekly paper. They posted revenues of $47 million in 2007, up slightly more than 4% from $45 million.42

Hispanic Newspaper Revenue

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA

Advertising vs. Circulation

Where were the declines in Spanish-language print coming from?

Declining circulation revenue made up most of this in 2007.

For 2008, ad revenue declines are expected to be the bigger part of the slide. Car dealerships and real estate brokers who provide local ad dollars for weeklies were forced to cut back as the housing market slumped and the U.S. auto industry struggled through tough times. National advertisers, too, cut ad spending. 

“The drop in revenue at the newspaper was due chiefly to a decrease in ad dollars,” Pedro Rojas, the executive editor of La Opinión, told PEJ. When asked about the economic outlook for the paper in 2009, he said, “Every day we have a different outlook. Right now we’re playing it by ear and discovering new ways to be efficient.”43

Looking at the specific dollar figures for 2007, that last year for which data is available, overall circulation revenue fell 15%.44

Total ad revenue for Hispanic papers over all fell about a half a percentage point in 2007.45

Hispanic Newspaper Ad Revenue

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA

The declines came in both national and local adverting, affecting both dailies and weeklies.

Spanish-language dailies tend to rely more on national advertising than other Hispanic papers. About 17% of their ad revenues were from national advertising in 2007. Local and regional ad dollars are still a larger source of income.46

Weeklies, which depend more on local advertising, had enjoyed advertising growth in 2007, but that was largely a function of there being 33 more weekly papers than the year before. Ad revenue grew at a rate of 0.7% in 2007. 47

National vs. Local Ad Revenue in Hispanic Newspapers

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA

Less-than-weekly papers had been the strongest factor in Spanish newspapers heading into 2008. It was the only Hispanic print sector that had an increase in total revenues for 2007, up 4.4% to $47 million in 2007, according to the estimates from the Latino Print Network.48

They also had an increase in total ad revenues and held their circulation revenues steady. Less-than-weeklies added 31 papers in 2007, up to 377 in 2007 from 346 the previous year.49

Looking Ahead in Print

What does 2008 imply for the future? One question is whether national advertisers, having likely cut back on spending in Hispanic media, would look to capture segments of the Hispanic demographic in their general, English-language advertisements. This could result in fewer ad dollars for Hispanic papers even farther into the future.

There are mixed opinions of that strategies’ success. Salvatore Cavalieri, president and CEO of Cilantro Animation Studios, wrote in TV Week that appealing to Latinos through mainstream ads works sometimes. “Despite the many cultural differences, common ground does exist,” he said. “In fact, some Hispanics may very well respond to the same media campaigns designed for the general Anglo population. Confused? Don’t be. Instead, recognize the key factor that absolutely must be measured while planning a marketing blitz: acculturation”50

On the other hand, Cavalieri pointed to the need for marketers to appeal to the diverse segments of the Hispanic population, saying: “Leaders of the dynamic, illustrious and diverse Hispanic populace have a message for Anglo corporations: When you come calling with your hand out, be prepared to offer more than just ‘Hola!’ ”

Top Hispanic Advertisers in Print

In 2007, the last year for which there are data, 7 of the top 10 spenders in Hispanic media over all reported a decline in ad spending in Hispanic outlets. Verizon, Univision and AT&T, for example, all cut their buys from Hispanic media.51  When asked why the decline for 2007, Ad Age’s Laurel Wentz said that the declines were not yet reflective of the economic slowdown and that year-to-year fluctuations in ad spending in Hispanic media were common.52

It had been expected that advertising spending numbers would have been augmented by campaign ad spending in the presidential and Congressional elections. As it turned out for print, campaign spending was not as plentiful as expected or hoped for. In Florida, during the week of September 8, McCain spent $1 million and Obama spent $1.3 million on Hispanic television. Latino newspapers were not so lucky. El Nuevo Herald in Miami reported that ad spending by both parties dipped following the primaries, while the bilingual Hispania News in the political battleground of Southern Colorado said it had run one ad for Obama and none for McCain as of Sept. 18, although editor Robert Armendáriz told PEJ that toward the end of the race, the Obama campaign ran more ads, but declined to give specifics.53  


The year 2008 started off relatively strong after a year of growth in 2007. But as the year went on, the situation deteriorated and it looked like the effects of the financial crisis were seen faster in broadcast than elsewhere. In the second quarter of 2008, ad revenue from both local and national Spanish-language television stations declined from the same period the previous year, even with the ad revenue from the presidential candidates.

For the second quarter year to year, Spanish-language television experienced a 3% decline in ad revenue, Broadcasting & Cable reported.54  Total dollars fell to $1.247 billion from $1.287 billion in 2007 and the trend was expected to continue into 2009 in light of the difficult economy.55

One anonymous media buyer told Broadcasting & Cable, “Most advertisers have pushed back decisions on first quarter 2009 to the end of the month to give them more time to figure it out.”56

Political Advertising in Hispanic Television

When the year began, Univision, the leading Spanish-language broadcast network, estimated it would end up attracting at least $20 million in political ad spending. Entravision, a smaller Spanish-language media company based in Santa Monica, Calif., that operates some Univision affiliates and also owns and/or operates 51 television stations and 48 radio stations, projected that political ad sales would double to $12 million from the 2004 election.57

As the primary season got under way, with the party nominations still hotly contested, those projections looked on target. Entravision reported $1.5 million in political ad spending for the first quarter of 2008, which was double the same period in 2004. Telemundo also garnered record political spending during the primary season, although the company would not release specific figures.58

Whether the campaigns ultimately met Spanish-language media’s expectations was unclear.  For the general election battle, neither campaign would release final ad spending numbers on Hispanic media. But the two states with the biggest Hispanic populations —  Texas and California — were not battleground states, which usually translates into less advertising. Other evidence, though, suggests that spending remained high, indeed higher than in any past election cycle with the bulk of it coming from the Obama campaign. In late October, the Miami Herald reported that in 2004, the “Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns combined spent $8.7 million on Spanish-language television advertising.” 

The paper also reported that during the primary season, the Obama campaign spent $20 million on Hispanic outreach, which included ad buys.59 Campaign insiders told the paper in the general campaign that Barack Obama would “meet or surpass that figure by Nov. 4.”60 While total dollar figures were are not available, looking at the ads themselves clearly suggests a commitment to this ethnic group.

In late October, Obama released a Spanish-language ad that featured him addressing Hispanic viewers in Spanish. And Obama broadcast his 30-minute infomercial on Univision, along with Fox, CBS and NBC.

“Buying a half-hour on Univision is like putting a Spanish-language ad on the Super Bowl. It almost doesn't matter what you say because the main message is to say ‘I know you’re there and I recognize you,” said Roberto Suro, a founder of the Pew Hispanic Center and a journalism professor at the University of Southern California.61

As the campaign wound down, the Republican National Committee made a last-minute ad buy of Spanish-language television in Miami for $500,000 independently from the McCain campaign.62

Because John McCain used the public financing to fund his campaign, his ad dollars were not as plentiful as Obama’s. A study by the Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin found that between September 28 and October 4 in the key battleground states of Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada, which all have substantial Hispanic populations, Obama outspent McCain in everyone of them.63


Despite strong political ad spending, the second quarter of 2008 was less than stellar for Univision, the leading Spanish-language broadcaster. And it was clear by the third quarter, after the economic crisis was in full swing, that the faltering economy would affect even the strongest of Spanish-language broadcasters. Some of it was due to the financial crisis. But Univision’s own debt and legal issues complicated the picture.

Univision reported a 4.3% decline in net revenue for the second quarter of 2008 from the same period the previous year.64 Nevertheless, Univision’s CEO, Joe Uva, remained optimistic, saying that “the first six months of 2008 have kept pace with last year’s comparable six-month period despite challenging economic conditions.”65

But by the third quarter, the downhill slide continued and was expected to extend at least through the beginning of 2009. By September 30, the company posted a $2.9 billion net loss and revenue dropped to $511.3 million from $524 million a year ago, a 2.4% decline.66 “Univision, like every broadcaster, is going to be taking a very hard look at all of its expenses. We are preparing for a pretty tough recessionary environment,” Univision’s chief financial officer, Andrew Hobson, told the Los Angeles Times.67

The company’s third-quarter report also showed an alarming decrease in ad spending that reflected the impact of the financial troubles throughout the U.S. auto industry. The company’s television and radio divisions reported a 25% decline in auto advertising in the third quarter compared to the year before.68

Declines in revenue and ad dollars for Univision were not the only economic concerns going into 2009.  Univision’s acquisition last year by a group of private investors for $12.3 billion left the company with $10 billion in debt, according to the Los Angeles Times. In addition, Univision had to pay off the $385 million balance on a previous loan. The plan was to pay off the balance of the loan through asset sales, but the economic crisis intervened, and Univision assets were selling for less than expected.69

Also impacting expenses for 2009 was the settlement of a lawsuit filed by Mexican media giant Grupo Televisa, which provides 40% of Univision’s programming. After Televisa sued over royalties, Univision settled, agreeing to pay $25 million in back royalties and increasing the licensing fees it pays for future programming. 

But 2009 will test the company’s ability to pay off its debt while sustaining losses in advertising revenues as a result of the economic climate.
Some experts think that despite the financial issues in a rough economic climate, Univision is still in a unique position to come through the recession in good shape because its multiplatform success gives advertisers so much.

Felix Contreras of National Public Radio reported: “Univision represents access not only to the No. 1 Spanish-language broadcast network, but also the dominant cable network, more than a dozen of the top radio stations in the country, and the No. 1 Spanish-language website.” 70

Alan Albarran, director of the Center for Spanish-Language Media at the University of North Texas, said: “Univision is, no question, in the best position to weather this storm. And if you’re an advertiser and you want to reach the Spanish-language market, Univision is still your best vehicle to place. It’s just your number of ad dollars may be reduced or they may be cut back in terms of what you’d normally like to invest if the market was at its full strength.” 71


Getting precise financial figures is difficult. NBC does not break out Telemundo results, but anecdotal evidence suggested that Telemundo fell short of its 2007 earnings. The New York Times reported that the network was able to increase its revenues for five straight quarters and, as of March 2008, accounted for 20% of NBC Universal’s revenue.72

The problems of 2008 also come after a run of strong growth. According to an October report in the Los Angeles Times, Telemundo experienced its most profitable year in 2007, earning $65 million, according to two people familiar with the company’s finances quoted by the paper. However, the sources said Telemundo was expected to fall short of its target for 2008, earning about $40 million. The reason for this was unclear, and Telemundo is tight-lipped about its finances. But the weakened economy may offer an explanation.73

The financial pressures of 2008 also led to cutbacks in Telemundo’s staffing. The broadcaster announced that it would pare its payroll by 5%, or about 85 jobs.

The long-term vision behind these cuts was unclear. The announcements from the company remained vague. “The broadcast business is being challenged,” Telemundo’s president, Don Browne, said. “We are proactively and strategically making some adjustments to protect the larger company so that we can weather this period.” 74

Local television station revenues were especially hard hit, according to the Los Angeles Times, in two key markets for Telemundo -- Los Angeles and Miami. This was due mainly to decreases in advertising dollars from car dealerships and retailers that struggled in the worsening economic climate.

Telemundo had made strategic shifts in recent years, concentrating on producing its own programs and selling them internationally, investing in a youth-oriented cable channel and expanding its mobile reach to capitalize on Hispanic’s high rates of use of cellphonesand PDA’s. In the first half of 2008, Telemundo introduced a new strategy to “integrate advertising across broadcast, cable and digital assets.” 75 This means the network would make it easier for advertisers to reach the Hispanic audience across the  three media.

The company also negotiated a digital distribution deal with Grupo Televisa, the large Mexico-based Spanish-language media company and principal supplier of Univision programs from Mexico. This would not only allow Telemundo to distribute its original programming on Mexican television stations owned by Televisa, but would allow the distribution of Telemundo content across the digital and mobile platforms as well.76

Univision’s complicated financial position, the tightening economy and the moves by Telemundo could open the door for the broadcaster to gain ground on its main competitor, but the lack of specific financial information makes it difficult to predict what the future looks like for Telemundo.


Spanish-language radio had the worst results in 2008 among Hispanic media.

The three major distributors are Univision, the Spanish Broadcasting System and Entravision. Of these, Entravision and Univision were able to close the year with relatively minor losses, but the Spanish Broadcasting System had major financial difficulty.

Univision Radio, which acquired the Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation in 2003 and now owns and operates 70 stations in the top Hispanic markets throughout the country, has pursued a strategy of buying English-language stations and converting them to Spanish.77  Univision Radio is the highest-ranked Spanish language radio group in the U.S., the company says.

 In the second quarter of 2008, Univision Radio’s net revenue was down slightly from the same quarter last year, down to $111.9 million from $112.3 million, a slight decrease.78 The losses worsened in the third quarter. In 2008, net revenue fell to $102.6 million from $105.9 million in 2007, a 3% decrease.79

By September, profits dipped at both Entravision and the Spanish Broadcasting System, and the stocks of both companies neared 52-week lows in September,80 George Szalai reported in the Hollywood Reporter.

Entravision, which owns dozens of radio and television stations across the country, looked as if it would weather the storm. “Our third-quarter financial results were impacted by the economic environment and related advertising slowdown across the majority of our markets,” Walter F. Ulloa, the chairman and C.E.O.. said in a press release. “We have taken steps to reduce our costs and operate as efficiently as possible in an effort to maximize our cash flows, without sacrificing the quality of our content or marketing efforts.… We believe we are in a solid position to capitalize on our market leadership when the economy recovers."81

At the end of the second quarter in 2008, Entravision reported a drop in net revenues for its radio division, which continued through the third quarter. During the second quarter of 2008, net revenues for Entravision radio dropped to $24 million from $26.2 million the prior year, about a 9% decrease. Net revenue in the third quarter for Entravision’s radio segment also fell from the previous year.82 Net revenue for radio dropped to $23.5 million in 2008 from $24.2 million the same period 2007, a 3% change.83

The outlook for the Spanish Broadcasting System going into 2009 was uncertain at best. But the company had expected declines in its radio operations as it expanded its online and television operations.84 The company operates 21 radio and 2 television stations.

The company reported major and consistent drops in revenues throughout 2008. For the second quarter, its revenues were down 6% from the same quarter in 2007.85 By the third quarter, that percentage doubled. At the close of the quarter, the company reported revenue of $41.3 million down from $46.2 million the same quarter last year, a 12% drop.86

The Spanish Broadcast System repeatedly closed below the $1 per share minimum required by Nasdaq, putting the company’s stock at risk of being delisted. The company was not able to increase its share price, but avoided being delisted in October when Nasdaq suspended the delisting because of  “extraordinary market conditions.” The company has until May 26, 2009, to comply with Nasdaq regulations.87 The company also paid off an $18.5 million note early.88

“Our third-quarter financial performance reflects the impact of a slowing economy and an industry-wide weakness in advertising demand, offset in part by strong growth at MegaTV,” its chairman and CEO, Raul Alarcon Jr., told the South Florida Business Journal. MegaTV was begun as a local station in Florida in 2006 and sought to compete with the Spanish-language television broadcast giants Univision and Telemundo.89 The station has made progress in its local market and secured a deal with DIRECTV in 2007 that allowed it to be broadcast nationally on a DIRECTV channel.90



Although economic conditions had been shaky throughout 2008, the first half of the year resulted in some gains for Hispanic print that helped it push through the tough second half. One local paper decided to nationalize and hoped to become the USA Today of Hispanic print. Another paper was begun in South Florida. New England got its first daily Spanish-language paper. And ImpreMedia reorganized the Rumbo newspaper chain in Texas, ending print editions in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley but doubling circulation in Houston.91

By the end of the year, however, ImpreMedia had stopped printing Hoy New York, which it had bought it from the Tribune Company only a year earlier.  It, along with Rumbo’s San Antonio and Rio Grande Valley papers, now exists online only. Other publications, like El Universal Gráfico in Atlanta and Tu Ciudad in Los Angeles, folded, unable to overcome economic troubles.92

Early in 2008, the National Media Group in Seattle teamed up with Jose Quintero, the head publisher of the paper Sea Latino  to start a national version of the weekly paper. The free paper began with editions in Seattle, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, South Florida and New York.93
“Sea Latino maintains its solid and unique image and format in all of the markets it reaches. It is a truly national newspaper that also includes local content,” Quintero said. “We like to think of it as the USA Today for Hispanics.”94

The paper started six years ago as a Seattle-based Spanish-language weekly. In March 2008 it joined with National Media Group to launch as a national paper. As of the end of September it had expanded to 11 of the 12 targeted markets.95

By 2010, the paper set the ambitious goal to be in the top 26 Hispanic markets and increase its circulation to 1.5 million copies a week.96

The paper has four sections -- two national and two local. The contents of the national sections of the paper are the same in all markets, and the local sections are tailored to the specific markets.

Sea Latino employs local reporters, although executives declined to say how many people it employs. The national paper underwent its first independent audit in 2008 by the Circulations Verification Council and reported an overall weekly distribution of 172,950 copies in the six original markets of Los Angeles, Houston, South Florida, Seattle, Chicago and New York.

Christian Tang  said in an interview with PEJ that Sea Latino's business model is carefully tailored to Hispanic consumers and is efficient during difficult financial times.

By having a national network of papers, “advertisers only need to deal with one contact, one paper to place their ads in top Hispanic markets,” Tang said.97

The launch of a free Spanish-language newspaper in the South Florida area also demonstrated some international interest in reaching the U.S. Hispanic market. The London-based Express Media International launched Express News, a Hispanic-focused weekly newspaper in several Florida markets in June.98

The paper began with a distribution of 40,000 copies and a website.99 According to Portada magazine, the company, which also has Spanish-language papers in the United Kingdom and Spain, was prepared to use its international resources to get the South Florida edition off the ground. Carla Mena, general manager of the U.S. edition, told Portada magazine that the company had 50 to 60 people working on the project and added, “We have journalists in every country in Latin America; besides that, we have teams working in U.K., Spain, Colombia and U.S.A.”
Spanish-language newspapers reached a milestone in New England in 2008. The region got its first Spanish-language daily newspaper when Siglo 21 converted from a weekly to a daily. It is based in Lawrence, Mass.

Siglo 21 is owned by Víctor Manuel González Lemus  and says that it has a pluralistic philosophy that takes in “the diverse opinions of all democratic thought” in its opinion pages. The paper features articles that reflect different points of view and expresses its position in the editorial section.     

ImpreMedia, a corporation of newspapers and magazines that has grown in size and influence in recent years, remained quiet throughout most of 2008 until it announced that it had decided to reorganize the Rumbo newspaper chain in Texas that it purchased from Meximerica Media in 2007. The company decided to suspend printing of the paper in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley (the two papers had a circulation of 25,000 copies each) and double its circulation in Houston from 50,000 to 100,000. The papers still had a home online. A senior vice president, Monica Lozano, pointed to the faltering economy as the reason for the change and said that “advertisers, consumers and readers are going to digital.”100 

If more Hispanic papers follow suit and forgo print editions for lower-cost digital products, one question heading into 2009 is whether the papers will be able to retain the same readership numbers, as Latinos over all tend to have lower rates of Internet usage than other demographic groups.

The two major Spanish-language broadcasters, Univision and Telemundo, took major steps in 2008 to position themselves for growth.

Weighed down by increasing debt, Univision continued to sell off its stations, although it avoided a crisis when it settled a lawsuit with its major program producer, Grupo Televisa, a Mexican company, over licensing fees.

Televisa provides 40% of the programming that airs on Univision stations, including some of the most popular telenovelas. In 2004, it sued Univision for allegedly failing to pay $122 million in royalties and demanded to be released from its contract obligations to provide shows to Univision through 2017, which would have hurt the network severely.

After three weeks of testimony in early 2009, the two sides settled. The agreement called for Univision to keep getting the programming but pay more in licensing fees, plus $25 million in disputed back royalties. It will also provide $65 million worth of free advertising time to its Mexican partner.

The settlement was a fraction of what was demanded and amounted to a catastrophe averted for Univision.

Univision in 2008 also continued to make progress on its decision to sell many of its assets, including television stations, cable, local radio and online, and as of the end of July, 75% had been sold. According to Media Week’s John Consoli, Univision outpaced itself from last year, selling off its platforms at a “rapid pace.”101  Part reason for the quick sales may have to do with the buyout by private equity group led by media mogul Haim Saban that left the company with $10 million in debt, with another large debt payment coming up in early 2009.102

Although the sales were going well through the middle of 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported later in the year that “since then, the economic climate has deteriorated, credit markets have seized up and sales of Univision assets, including its music labels, have been slow or have not generated as much money as Univision had anticipated.”

While Univision struggled to sell off pieces of itself, Telemundo took big steps to expand its reach that could shift the Hispanic media landscape. It negotiated a partnership in March 2008 with Grupo Televisa. The arrangement means Telemundo will partner with Grupo Televisa, Mexico’s largest television company and the largest media conglomerate in Latin America. Televisa will air shows produced by Telemundo in Mexico.

The New York Times reported, attributing the information to executives:  “The deal will initially include only limited Telemundo programming on the Televisa broadcast station, probably only a group of the company’s telenovelas.  But the new cable network will offer an opportunity for other programming, including news, to reach the Mexican audience.”103 Initially, Telemundo would provide limited programming on Televisa’s broadcast station. Televisa has provided much of Univision’s programming, especially its popular telenovelas.

The deal also helped Telemundo to continue to differentiate itself from rival Univision by exporting its programs to Mexico and other Latin American countries, rather than importing them from Latin America, as is Univision’s modus operandi.


In 2008, some of the biggest names in Hispanic media made efforts to tap into the growing online Hispanic market.  Hispanics over all have lower rates of Internet usage. But certain growing segments of the population—the young, U.S.-born, bilingual and more educated Hispanics – use the Internet at much higher rates. ImpreMedia, a large conglomerate of Hispanic newspapers, launched a comprehensive Web portal that combined all of its newspapers online, And Telemundo, one of the top Spanish-language broadcasters, made moves to combine its digital media and mobile properties to create a new digital media and emerging-business division.

The ImpreMedia Web portal, launched in 2008, brings together all of the publications under the ImpreMedia umbrella, including La Opinión, El Diario/La Prensa and the Rumbo newspaper chain in Texas. The portal not only functions as a news and information site; it also allows users to have “access to multiple channels, including sports, entertainment and lifestyle and will be able to network with other users through video and photo galleries and blogs.”104
ImpreMedia also sought to attract online Hispanics during the presidential election Campaign. In a year where the Internet played a big role in the campaign, the company partnered with social networking pioneer MySpace to present the presidential and vice presidential debates for Hispanic audiences through live Web streaming.105

Impremedia aired the debates in English and also provided a real-time Spanish translation.

Numbers for top Hispanic websites by traffic are difficult to come by and mostly unreliable. But if ad dollars are any indication of a site’s popularity, in 2007, the top five Hispanic news websites by ad dollars spent in the U.S. were Yahoo! Telemundo,, (Mexican), MSN Latino and AOL Latino.106

Over all, Hispanics lag behind other races and ethnicities in Internet usage, but this is changing as the population of younger generations and U.S.-born Hispanics grows.  The ethnic media as a group has been slow to make the online jump, but the 2008 online developments signaled at least the beginning of a shift by some of the more established newspapers and broadcasters trying to reach Hispanics on the Internet.

Research shows a growing consumption of online news sources by Hispanics, especially among the more educated, bilingual and young. In a report released in 2007, the Pew Internet & American Life project found that 78% of English-dominant Hispanics and 76% of bilingual Hispanics used the Internet. Seventy-six percent of U.S.-born Latinos went online and 89% of Latinos with a college degree used the Internet, compared with 91% of whites with college degrees.107

However, as a group, the report showed that 56% of Hispanics over all used the Internet.  These data have remained on track with the most recent 2008 data, which show that 74% of the general adult population of the U.S. uses the Internet.108

Hispanics were just slightly less likely than whites to have read news online yesterday and more likely than blacks to have done so, according to the 2008 Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey. Twenty-six percent of Hispanics said they read news online yesterday compared with 30% of whites and 21% of blacks.

The survey also found that Hispanics were just as likely as both blacks and whites to read blogs on news and current events, and that whites were more likely than Hispanics to report they never read blogs for news and information.109

One thing to watch for in 2009: The role the economy plays in forcing the hand of Hispanic newspapers to make the online jump. Because of the lower cost of production, some publications may decide to follow suit with the Rumbo papers in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. In 2008, the papers dropped the print version and moved completely online. The lower costs associated with maintaining publications online make the Internet option attractive to some segments of Hispanic media targeting specific segments of the population


Hispanics represent the nation’s largest minority group, and projections show further growth despite an expected slowdown in immigration.

In 2007, there were an estimated 45.5 million Hispanics living in the United States, representing 15% of the population. They were widely dispersed across the country, but most concentrated in the major urban areas, California, Florida and the Southwest.

The Pew Hispanic Center predicts that the number of U.S. Hispanics will triple by 2050 and grow to 29% of the country’s population.110 Most of the growth is expected to come from continued immigration. The projections call for an additional 67 million immigrants from all over the world and 50 million births from those immigrants.111

Estimated Population Growth

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

Despite this growth, the challenge to Hispanic media is substantial. Publishers and broadcasters will have to accommodate the demands of recent immigrants and immigrants who are fluent in English and acculturated to American culture, as well as native-born Hispanics.

Growth in Bilingual Media

One way Hispanic media outlets have adjusted to the challenge of serving both native-born and immigrant populations is through bilingual publications and broadcasts or by offering Spanish-language content that is specifically targeted at the native-born population.

According to the most recent figures from the Pew Hispanic Center, 18% of Hispanic adults reported speaking only English in the home, and 36% reported speaking English very well.112

The number of bilingual papers has more than doubled since 2000. Every two to three weeks, another Spanish-language paper makes the conversion to bilingual, according to Whisler, president of the Latino Print Network.  In 2008, there were 202 bilingual newspapers in the United States with a combined circulation of 5.6 million. Although he did not have specific figures, Whisler said this was an increase of at least 40 newspapers from the year prior. The large majority of the papers are free, with only eight that have paid circulation.

And the major broadcasters have also followed suit, offering more content in English and, in some cases, websites in English targeted at Latinos.

In last year’s report, PEJ raised the question of whether, with more Hispanics speaking English and consuming mainstream media, Latino media faced a threat from the mainstream.

Most in the Hispanic media believe that just because Hispanics are acculturating that this does not necessarily mean that they will abandon Spanish-language media, as long as those outlets adapt to the demands of different generations of Hispanics. Bilingual consumers tend to rely on Spanish-language media for certain things, and English language media for others, Whisler said.

As foreign-born Latinos spend more time in the U.S., and their native-born children become more bi-cultural (and bilingual), they have begun looking to both Spanish and English sources for information rather than choosing exclusively between the two languages.

Looking at one specific event — the 2008 presidential election — the languages in which Latinos chose to gather their election information varied. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, television was the medium where the highest percentage of Hispanics got campaign information both in English and Spanish. For television, 33% of Hispanics said they got their campaign news exclusively in Spanish, 23% chose English, and 44% chose both languages.

Radio was next, with 38% of Hispanics getting their information in only English, 31% choosing Spanish-language radio and 31% choosing both languages.

In newspapers and on the Internet, Hispanics seemed to rely more heavily on English sources for campaign information.  Fully 57% of Hispanics chose English-language newspapers and 65% chose English-language campaign news on the Internet. Only 15% of Latinos chose only Spanish-language newspapers, and 6% chose Spanish-language websites. Another 28% chose to get their campaign news in both languages on either the Internet or newspapers.113

Robert Armendáriz, editor of the bilingual Hispania News in Colorado Springs, Colo., said the presidential candidates missed out on reaching a significant portion of the Hispanic market by focusing their ad buys on the Spanish-language media. “They tried to capture the Hispanic audience all in one,” he told PEJ. But in the case of Hispania News’ market in Southern Colorado, where the Hispanic population goes back generations, many Hispanics prefer English. “After being here since the 1500’s, you get to learn the language,” he said.

Carl Kravetz, chairman of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, said the same could be said for many marketers.  “Rather than our industry focusing on Latinos who are Spanish-dominant and figuring that, once they start speaking English, they’re no longer Latino, we’ve redefined what it means to be Latino in terms of culture as opposed to language,” said Kravetz, chief strategic officer at ad agency cruz/kravetz: IDEAS.114

This indicates a choice no longer based solely on language, but on content that reflects Hispanic culture, which increasingly mixes U.S. and Latino influences.

“Latino media have moved from being media of chance — you prefer Spanish so you use the only media that happen to be in Spanish — to media of choice — you have choices based on preferred language, lifestyle, content preferences, etc.,” Félix Gutiérrez, Professor of Journalism, Communication and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Journalism, told PEJ.

So far, it looks as though much of Hispanic media has been able to accommodate the demand. Telemundo has made efforts targeting second- and third-generation Hispanics with original programming produced in the U.S., its partnership with Yahoo to attract online Hispanics and a bilingual cable channel and website.  Univision has produced some original Spanish-language content targeting U.S.-born Hispanics and has also had success with its Internet platform. Bilingual papers continue to grow in number, and there have been significant moves online to attract both an English- and Spanish-speaking audience. And some newspapers have begun to link stories in the hard copy, directing readers to find more information online.

All of these moves show that at least the larger players in the Hispanic media world are aware of the changing Hispanic population and are willing to find new ways to accommodate different segments. The prospect of competition from English-language media is also driving some of this.

A challenge will come from the effect the economy has on the ability of the larger Hispanic media companies to continue to develop these new strategies and platforms for the new generations of Hispanic consumers.


1. David T. Clark, "Weak Circulation Trends Across Industry," Deutsche Bank Global Markets Research. October 27, 2008. The figures are average circulation for the six-month period ending September 30, compared with the same period a year earlier.

2. Audit Bureau of Circulations Publisher’s Statement for the six-month period ended September 30, 2008.

3.Audit Bureau of Circulations Publisher’s Statement for the six-month period ended September 30, 2008.

4. Audit Bureau of Circulations Publisher’s Statement for the six-month period ended September 30, 2008.

5.Phone Interview with Pedro Rojas, executive editor, La Opinión, October 2008.

6.Portada magazine,  “Al Dia Dallas/Ft. Worth on What’s Behind Their Recent 80,000 Circulation Increase,”June 12, 2008.

7. Portada magazine,  “Al Dia Dallas/Ft. Worth on What’s Behind Their Recent 80,000 Circulation Increase,”June 12, 2008.

8. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheet.

9. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheet.

10. Portada magazine. “El Clasificado Expands Into San Diego and Ventura Counties,” September 9, 2008. and

11. Portada magazine,“8 Things You Need to Know about the State of Latino Print,” September 11, 2008.

12. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2005, 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

13.Phone interview with Pedro Rojas, executive editor, La Opinión, October 2008

14.Miriam Jordan and Conor Dougherty. “Immigration Slows in Face of Economic Downturn,” Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2008.

15.David Arnerich,. Worth Magazine,.Lost in Translation,” July 1, 2006.

16. Univision, press release, “Univision Outdelivers ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox Nearly Every Night During May sweep,” May 21, 2008.

17.Univision, press release, “Univision Outdelivers ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox Nearly Every Night During May sweep,” May 21, 2008.

18.Univision, press release, “Univision Outdelivers ABC, NBC, CBS or Fox Nearly Every Night During May sweep,” May 21, 2008.

19.Market Watch Online, press release, “KMEX Univision 34 Ends November Sweeps as the #1 Television Station in Los Angeles Among Adults 18-49,’’November 25, 2008.{65F5D847-A6B4-4DAC-9E93-F27C37278922}

20.Univision press release, “KMEX Univision 34 wins Viewership race; # 1 station in the country, regardless of language for adults 18-49,” January 15, 2009.

21. National Public Radio. Morning Edition, “Univision Translates Ratings Into Cash,” October 29, 2008

22.Press release, “Telemundo Delivers Best November Ratings in 16 Years,” December 3, 2008.

23.Telemundo Press release accessed via TV By the Numbers online, “Telemundo Delivers Best November Ratings in 16 Years,” December 3, 2008.

24.Reuters Online, “Telemundo Ratings Ride Olympic Wave,” August 21, 2008.

25.Reuters Online, “Telemundo Ratings Ride Olympic Wave,” August 21, 2008.

26.Kevin Downey, “The New World of Hispanic TV,” Broadcasting & Cable, March 5, 2007.

27.Julieanne Smolinski, “Telemundo Touts Integration Strategy,” TV Week, May 12, 2008.

28. Julieanne Smolinski, “Telemundo Touts Integration Strategy,” TV Week, May 12, 2008.

29.Univision press release, “Telefutura Premieres Intriguing Original Novela ‘La Marca Del Deseo,’ Monday, March 24,” March 10, 2008.

30.Univision press release, “Disney-ABC International Television Latin America and Univision Sign Unprecedented Strategic Production Agreement,” May 14, 2008

31.Kevin Downey, “The New World of Hispanic TV,” Broadcasting & Cable, March 5, 2008.

32.Brian Stelter, “Cuomo to Sue Ratings Company, Claiming Minorities Are Underrepresented,” New York Times. October 6, 2008.

33. Bloomberg News, “Radio-Rating Firm Arbitron Settles New York Bias Lawsuit,” January 8, 2009.,0,6629465.story

34.Jim Edwards, “Hispanic Marketing World Insulated From Economy?” MediaWeek, October 27, 2008.

35.Jim Edwards, “Hispanic Marketing World Insulated From Economy?” MediaWeek, October 27, 2008.

36.“Focus on Hispanic Advertising Market.” Hispanic Business Magazine 2008 Media Markets Report. December 2008 Issue

37.Portada magazine Online, “8 Things You Need to Know about the State of Latino Print,” Sept. 11, 2008.

38.Portada magazine Online, “8 Things You Need to Know about the State of Latino Print,” Sept. 11, 2008.

39.Portada magazine Online, “8 Things You Need to Know about the State of Latino Print,” Sept. 11, 2008.

40.Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

41. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

42.Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

43.Phone interview with Pedro Rojas, executive editor, La Opinión, October 2008

44.Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

45. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

46. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

47. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

48.Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

49. Latino Print Network State of Hispanic Print 2006 and 2007 Datasheets

50.Salvatore Cavalieri, “Engaging the Hispanic Market: 3 Commandments,” TV Week Online Guest Commentary.  January 13, 2008.

51. AdAge Hispanic Fact Pack 2008 Edition, Crain Communications, 2008

52.Phone interview with Laurel Wentz, Advertising Age, September 2008

53.Portada magazine. “Is Hispanic Print Being Overlooked by Presidential Campaigns?”September 18, 2008.

54.Claire Atkinson, “Spanish-Language TV’s Wall St. Woes,” Broadcasting & Cable, October 20, 2008.

55.Claire Atkinson, “Spanish-Language TV’s Wall St. Woes,” Broadcasting & Cable, October 20, 2008.

56.Claire Atkinson, “Spanish-Language TV’s Wall St. Woes,” Broadcasting & Cable, October 20, 2008.

57.Kayla Carrick, “Entravision, Univision’s U.S. Political Ads May Soar,”Bloomberg News, August 14, 2008.

58.Kayla Carrick, “Entravision, Univision’s U.S. Political Ads May Soar,”Bloomberg News, August 14, 2008.

59.Casey Woods, “Obama’s Hispanic voter Outreach sets precedents,” Miami Herald. October 28, 2008

60.Casey Woods, “Obama’s Hispanic voter Outreach sets precedents,” Miami Herald. October 28, 2008

61. Casey Woods, “Obama’s Hispanic voter Outreach sets precedents,” Miami Herald. October 28, 2008

62. Ira Teinowitz, “Ad Spending Surges as Campaign Enters Final Days,” TV Week, November 2, 2008.

63.Press release,  University of Wisconsin Advertising Project.

64.Univision press release, “Univision Announces 2008 Second Quarter Results,” August 8, 2008 

65. Univision press release, “Univision Announces 2008 Second Quarter Results,” August 8, 2008 

66. Meg James, “Univision Predicts Lean Times Ahead,”Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2008.,0,7094033.story

67. Meg James, “Univision Predicts Lean Times Ahead,”Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2008.,0,7094033.story

68. Meg James, “Univision Predicts Lean Times Ahead,”Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2008.,0,7094033.story

69. Meg James, “Univision Predicts Lean Times Ahead,”Los Angeles Times. November 18, 2008.,0,7094033.story

70. National Public Radio, Morning Edition, “Univision Translates Ratings Into Cash,” October 29, 2008.

71. National Public Radio, Morning Edition, “Univision Translates Ratings Into Cash,” October 29, 2008.

72. Bill Carter, “Telemundo Is Said to Have Struck Deal in Mexico,New York Times, March 17, 2008.

73. Meg James, “Telemundo to cut 5% of jobs,” Los Angeles Times, October 17, 2008.

74.Meg James, “Telemundo to cut 5% of jobs,” Los Angeles Times, October 17, 2008.

75.Julieanne Smolinski, “Telemundo Touts Integration Strategy,” TV Week, May 12, 2008.

76.Tameka Kee, “Telemundo, Televisa Ink Digital Distribution Deal in Mexico; Univision Still Outside Looking In,” PaidContent,org,  October 20, 2008.

77. Univision Online, Corporate Information -- Univision Radio.

78.Univision press release, Univision Announces 2008 Second Quarter results.

79. Univision press release, Univision Announces 2008 Second Quarter results.

80. Georg Szalai,. “Spanish-Language Media Stocks Hit Hard,” Hollywood Reporter,  September 16, 2008

81. Entravision press release, “Entravision Communications Corporation Reports Third Quarter 2008 Results,” November 5, 2008.

82. Entravision press release, “Entravision Communications Corporation Reports Second Quarter 2008 Results, August 6, 2008.

83. Entravision press release, “Entravision Announces Third Quarter 2008 Results,” November 5, 2008.

84.Jeremy Nisen,  Spanish Broadcasting System Receives Deficiency Note from NASDAQ; Has 180 Days to Right Ship,” Hispanic Business Magazine, August 22, 2008.

85. Jeremy Nisen,  Spanish Broadcasting System Receives Deficiency Note from NASDAQ; Has 180 Days to Right Ship,” Hispanic Business Magazine, August 22, 2008.

86. “Spanish Broadcasting Blames Ad decline for Q3 losses,” South Florida Business Journal. November 6, 2008.

87.Spanish Broadcasting System press release. Nasdaq Suspends Spanish Broadcasting System’s Delisting Process. October 30, 2008.

88. “NASDAQ Suspends SBS Delisting, company pays off $18.5 million note,” South Florida Business Journal. October 30, 2008.

89. Amanda Gaines, “Mega TV: Major Media Moguls,” American Executive Magazine, September 30, 2008.

90. Spanish Broadcasting System press release,, “MegaTV Celebrates National Launch,” November 5, 2007

91. “Rumbo to focus on web In San Antonio, Valley,”Associated Press, October 9, 2008

92.Portada magazine Online, “8 Things You Need to Know About the State of Latino Print,” September 11, 2008.

93. Portada magazine Online, “8 Things You Need to Know About the State of Latino Print,” September 11, 2008.

94.“National Media Group launches U.S.: Sea Latino,”, March 18, 2008.

95. Phone Interview with Christian Tang, national sales manager, Sea Latino, October 2008

96. Phone Interview with Christian Tang, national sales manager, Sea Latino, October 2008

97. Phone Interview with Christian Tang, national sales manager, Sea Latino, October 2008

98. Portada magazine, “Express Media International Group Starts Florida Weekly,”August 1, 2008.

99. Portada magazine, “Express Media International Group Starts Florida Weekly,”August 1, 2008.

100.“Rumbo to focus on web in San Antonio, Valley,” Associated Press, October 9, 2008.

101. John Consoli, Media Week Online, “Univision Upfront Flies as Integrations Slow Telemundo, Media Week Online,  July 28, 2008.

102. Meg James, “Univision Prepares for Lean Stretch,” Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2008.,0,7094033.story

103. Bill Carter, “Telemundo Is Said to Have Struck Deal in Mexico,” New York Times, March 17, 2008.

104. Rachel Hawkes, “New Online Community Launches for US Hispanic Market,” Social Media Portal Online, April 15, 2008.

105. Impremedia Press Release, “Impremedia and MySpace Join Forces to Present Live Web Streaming of Presidential Debates for Hispanic Audiences,” September 25, 2008.

106. Advertising Age, “2007 Hispanic Fact Pack. Top 10 Hispanic Websites by Web ad spending.”

107. Susannah Fox and Gretchen Livingston. Hispanics with Lower Levels of education and English proficiency remain largely disconnected from the internet. Pew Hispanic Center &Pew Internet & American Life Project. March 14, 2007.

108. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Who’s Online.

109. Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Media Consumption Survey 2008.

110. Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “U.S. Population Projections: 2005-2050,” Pew Hispanic Center,  February 11, 2008.

111. Jeffrey S. Passel and D’Vera Cohn, “U.S. Population Projections: 2005-2050,” Pew Hispanic Center,  February 11, 2008.

112. Pew Hispanic Center, “Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States,” 2006.

113. Mark Hugo Lopez, “The Hispanic Vote in the 2008 Election,” Pew Hispanic Center, November 6, 2008

114. Kevin Downey, “The New Hidden World of Hispanic TV,” Broadcasting & Cable, March 4, 2007.

African American Media

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism


Heading into 2009, the makeup of African American media seemed to be shifting. Newspaper circulation continued to fall in 2008, and one major black daily converted to weekly. But the reach of black-oriented cable television networks grew. As the print sector shrank, the industry also clearly moved, if belatedly, to expand online.

Trust in Black Media
One advantage of black-owned media is the greater trust it enjoys among many African Americans.

Survey data released by Radio One, a major owner of black-oriented media, and Yankelovich Research showed African Americans are twice as likely to trust black-owned or black-focused media as they are to trust the mainstream media.1

Moreover, African Americans perceive the black media as being different from mainstream outlets, the Radio One survey found.

Among all black households, 81% watch black-focused television channels and one in five named black channels in their top five most watched.2


Of all the black media, newspapers tell perhaps the most challenging story.

Since 2000, the Black Press of America, another name for the National Newspaper Publishers Association, has experienced sharp membership declines, down to 189 weekly newspapers in 2008 from 300 in 2000, John Smith, the chairman of the organization, told Advertising Age in August.3

The declines don’t end there. Among those 189 papers, average weekly circulation continued to fall as well. In April of 2008 the average was 250,000 half of what it was in 2000, Smith said.4

The circulation losses occurred at some venerable newspapers, including many stalwarts of the civil rights movement, although in some cases their declines were in line with trends across the mainstream media.

The Philadelphia Tribune, the Afro-American (with editions in Washington and Baltimore) and the New York Amsterdam News all experienced declines in circulation in 2008, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Afro-American, which calls itself the oldest family-owned black paper in the country, was the hardest hit in the six-month period ending September 30, 2008. Its Washington and Baltimore editions combined suffered a 15% drop in paid circulation, falling to an average of 15,677 for its weekly editions, from 18,524 in 2007, according to publisher’s statements submitted to the audit bureau in September of 2007 and 2008.5

The weekly Amsterdam News fell about 11% to an average circulation of 11,958 for each edition in 2008, from 13,380 in 2007 for the six-month period ending in September. 6

The three-times-a-week Philadelphia Tribune was able to increase its Sunday circulation to an average of 10,933, according to its September 2008 publisher’s statements, up 8% from 10,122 in the same period a year earlier.  But its Tuesday editions were down 3% and Fridays down 10%. Over all for the period, the paper’s average weekly circulation was down about 2%.7

PEJ, for all media genres, uses the most recent data available for its analysis. For the black press this was the September publisher’s statements. As was the case for most news industries in 2008, audience figures from earlier in the year, before the effects of the economic downturn were fully felt, were more positive.  The March publisher’s statements for these newspapers show much lesser declines than during the same six-month period a year before.  The combined editions of the Afro-American dropped 4%, the Philadelphia Tribune 11% and the Amsterdam News 5%. These lesser declines, according to John J. Oliver Jr., publisher of the Baltimore and Washington Afro-American, helped mitigate the bigger circulation losses later in the year.8

Some in the industry sense that the black press may have had a spike in readership after Barack Obama’s election in November 2008. Any changes will be reflected in the March publisher’s statements and audit reports due to be released in mid-2009. 

Circulation of Top African American Newspapers

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations Publisher’s Statements for the six-month period ending September 30
*The Philadelphia Tribune circulates on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. The Afro-American has editions in Baltimore and Washington. This chart combines the three days of the Philadelphia Tribune and both editions of the Afro-American

One of the few remaining African American dailies, the Chicago Defender, converted to a weekly schedule in February.9

For comparison, the circulation of mainstream daily newspapers fell 4.6% for the first nine months of the year.10

Elinor Tatum, editor in chief and publisher of the New York Amsterdam News, said her paper’s circulation declines related to both the overall decline in the print media and the aging audience of the African American readers who make up the bulk of the paper’s reader base.11

And some of this shift, said Smith, was clearly attributable, as it is in newspapers generally, to the rise of the Internet.12

And as is true for print generally, some of this online readership is going to the websites of the same papers. John J. Oliver Jr. of the Afro-American, whose paper has taken big steps into the online arena in the past year, says where the paper is losing circulation in print, it is making inroads online.13

Many of the papers have advanced their online operations, trying to take advantage of Web editions. A group of black newspapers, including the Afro-American, New York Amsterdam News, Philadelphia Tribune, Atlanta Voice, St. Louis American, Houston Defender, Dallas Weekly, Indianapolis Recorder and the Chicago Citizen Newspaper Group formed the African American News & Information Consortium, which in the past year, according to Oliver, discussed adopting better editorial standards, which now includes committing to a quality online publication. 14

A trend that began to emerge throughout 2008 across many sectors of ethnic media was some smaller and mid-sized newspapers forgoing print entirely and moving online. In many cases the change was tied to economic necessity. The San Francisco Bay View is one such example. With a circulation of 20,000, the paper published its last print edition on July 2, 2008, with an announcement that it would be moving fully to the Web.

The move was intended to cut costs and allow operations to continue. But, according to its editor , Mary Ratcliff, this still was not enough to counter the sour economy.  The foreclosure crisis, Ratcliff told New America Media, had all but leveled its operation, leaving even the online outlet in question.15


African American magazines generally fared better in 2008 than did newspapers. One reason may have been the multiple issues devoted to the historic election of the nation’s first black president.

Three of the four biggest magazines -- Ebony, Jet and Black Enterprise -- enjoyed monthly circulation gains.

Ebony’s circulation increased to 1,451,427 from 1,403,483 in 2007, an increase of 3%. Jet had an increase to 929,599 from 909,579 the previous year, up 2%.  And Black Enterprise, a business magazine, had an increase of 2%,  to 530,655 copies from 522,273 in 2007.16

The exception was Essence, which dropped 4% to 1,051,130 copies from 1,089,495 the year before.17

Average Monthly Circulation of Top African American Magazines

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations Publisher’s Statements for the six-month period ending June 30

One notable event in the year was the launch of RiseUp, the first weekly national magazine insert on race issues put in some traditional newspapers. It was aimed at readers of all races, but within a few months of its introduction on June 22, it announced a temporary suspension of printing to “gauge reader response and prepare to double its circulation.”18

The magazine said it hoped to come back strong in the fall, nearly doubling its circulation from its initial circulation of 4.3 million to 8 million.19 But as of January 2009, the phones were not being answered and the website had not been updated since the summer.



All three black cable networks extended their reach – that is, became available in more households - in 2008, especially TV One and the Africa Channel, according to data from SNL Kagan, a leading market research firm, shows that.
The biggest, BET, was available in 90.5 million households in 2008, an increase of 3% from 87.7 million the year before, according to SNL Kagan.20

TV One was available in 57.8 million households, up 37% from 42.3 million in 2007.

The Africa Channel was available in 7.7 million households, up more than two-fold from 2.8 million in 2007.The gains were largely due to new contracts in New York and Los Angeles. The channel, which provides English-language programming from Africa, including soaps, lifestyle, travel, sports, documentaries, reality shows, music and news, made its debut in Los Angeles on June 26 and in New York on September 18.21

Such gains in households that could potentially watch the channel are important for cable networks. Convincing a cable system to carry a network extends its potential viewership and normally involves multiyear contracts.  

Viewership numbers, on the other hand, provide information on how many households actually watched the channel. BET and TV One both increased viewership as well in 2008. For the month of September, figures provided by the channels show that more households watched both BET and TV One in 2008 than in September of the previous year. BET increased the number of households it reached to 87 million, up from 85 million the same month last year, a 2% increase.22

BET Viewership

Design Your Own Chart

Source: BET Press Releases, based on Nielsen Media Research data, September ratings for each year

Viewership for TV One was up in September 2008 to 45.3 million from 40.6 million the same month the previous year, an 11.5% increase.23

TV One Viewership

Design Your Own Chart

Source: TV OnePress Releases, based on Nielsen Media Research data, September ratings for each year

The Economics of African American TV

Along with added reach, early-year projections called for revenue growth at the nation’s major black cable channels, although the recession could have affected the final numbers.

By the third quarter, black television seemed to be strong. Cable channels withstood the recession better than other sectors of media, said Derek Bain, an analyst for SNL Kagan. 

The research firm estimated that BET, TV One and the Africa Channel still experienced growth in pretax profits from 2007 to 2008, but the final projections for the two larger channels, BET and TV One, were adjusted down in the last quarter of the year.

BET remained the highest-earning black-focused network. After a disappointing 2007, in which the network experienced its first decline in pretax profits since 1996, BET closed out 2008 with gains, according to estimates.

From 2007 to 2008, BET’s pretax profits increased to $502 million in 2008 from $491 million in 2007, a 2% increase. Net ad revenues, which often make up a large piece of total revenues, also increased, up to $335 million in 2008 from $331 million in 2007, a 1% increase.

BET Pretax Profits

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Source: SNL Kagan, a division of SNL Financial LLC, numbers are estimates

TV One’s growth in pretax profits was especially robust. The  network’s pretax profits were up in 2008 to $69 million from $46 million in 2007, a 50% increase. Part of the increase in 2008 was due to an increase in net ad revenues, which were up to nearly $47 million from $37 million in 2007, up 27%. 

TV One Pretax Profits

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Source: SNL Kagan, a division of SNL Financial LLC, numbers are estimates

The Africa Channel, which was begun in 2005, had the biggest percentage gain in pretax profits. The channel’s pretax profits increased in 2008 to $5.4 million, up from $800,000 in 2007, almost a seven-fold increase. Net ad revenues increased in 2008 as well, up to $2 million in 2008 from $500,000 in 2007, a four-fold increase. 

Africa Channel Pretax Profits

Design Your Own Chart

Source: Source: SNL Kagan, a division of SNL Financial LLC, numbers are estimates

Projections for 2009 showed expected mixed performances by the three networks in light of the recession. BET was the only channel forecast to experience a slight decline in pretax profits. TV One and the Africa Channel were expected to continue to increase pretax profits, just not by as much as previously projected.

For 2009, SNL Kagan projected that BET’s pretax profit would decrease by 0.4%, falling to $500 million from $502 million in 2008.

TV One was expected to increase pretax profit to $90 million, up 30% from $69 million in 2008, and it was estimated the Africa Channel’s pretax profit would more than double to $11 million, from $5 million in 2008.

TV Ownership

Black ownership of television still has some considerable distance to go.

Advertising Age reported in April that out of 1,379 commercial TV stations, only eight stations are owned by African Americans.24 And the biggest, BET, has not been owned by a black since 2000 when the station was sold to Viacom.

One study, by Free Press, a non-profit that promotes diversity in media ownership, found that African Americans comprised 13% of the U.S. population but only owned 1.3% of its TV stations in 2006. Furthermore, the study found that there had been no improvement in the level of minority ownership in television since 1998.25

The issue has prompted efforts to encourage the sale of stations to minorities. The Federal Communications Commission convened a hearing in August 2008, at which experts from the industry testified that reinstating the Minority Tax Credit Policy and repealing certain FCC rules and regulations would boost the number of minority owners.26  At the same hearing, the Federal Communications Commission came under fire when it approved the merger of XM Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. Some “saw the approval as giving big media an advantage to form monopolies and shut out small minority owned operations,” according to Black Enterprise Magazine.27

Not waiting for a sale, three prominent African Americans announced plans for three new cable channels.

Former Congressman J.C. Watts announced plans for The Black Television News Channel, Grammy-award-winning musician Percy Miller (formerly known as the rapper Master P) announced the launch of Better Black Television, and Robert Johnson, the founder of BET, announced plans for Urban Television.

In the announcements, the Watts and Miller channels said that they were planning to start in 2009. There is, however, some uncertainty about those plans since little has been heard about the project since July 2008. Urban Television’s launch schedule was less clear, but as of January 2009, the station had yet to hire any staff and the company was awaiting FCC approval.28

 Assuming plans move forward, the Watts channel is to feature programming with a greater focus on news than the entertainment-oriented BET and TV One.

Watts told the newspaper/website Politico in July that his channel would “provide about 16 hours of original news coverage, nonpartisan commentary, information and educational programs” each day to the African American community that Watts says is underserved by cable and satellite television.29 The channel already has major contracts with Comcast and DishNet.30
Black Television News Channel had not disclosed ownership information for the channel as of the end of 2008, but more information was expected to be made available during the second quarter of 2009, according to Darren Carrington, the channel’s chief financial officer. 

Better Black Television said it expected to have a heavier entertainment focus, but be “family friendly” and offer lifestyle and politics programming.
Miller, who was once listed among the highest-paid entertainers by Forbes Magazine, is the chairman of Better Black Television. The network’s advisory board includes actors Denzel Washington and Will Smith.

Better Black Television said it would have “a wide arrangement from health and fitness, animation, financial planning, reality TV, sitcoms, dramas, movies, responsible hip-hop music and videos, politics, sports and entertainment news, educational children's shows as well as teen and family programming.”31

The plan for Urban Television was less specific. But, according to officials of the new network, it would be co-owned by Robert Johnson and Ion Media Networks and share time on stations owned by Ion. The network planned to “cater to a multicultural audience interested in health, lifestyle education and other issues,” and possibly offer some news content. 32

In December, the channel’s FCC application drew opposition from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. The group filed documents with the FCC, suggesting that the share-time agreement with Ion should be treated as a separate license by the FCC.33


The other major element of the African American media in America was radio.

From 2007 to 2008, the number of black-owned radio stations increased by 5 to 245, according to the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters.34

But despite those gains, there were also signs of difficulty.

Perhaps most notably, the medium’s leader experienced financial distress and there were accusations that a new way of measuring radio audiences may undercount African Americans and Hispanics.

Radio One is the largest black-owned radio broadcasting company that targets African American and urban listeners. The company operated 53 radio stations in 16 urban markets at the end of the year. During the first three quarters of the year, the company reported a net loss of $296.6 million.35 That was exponentially worse than the loss of $3.4 million reported for the same period in 2007. Of the 2008 loss, $266 million came in the third quarter, when the company wrote down the value of its FCC licenses. Radio one had a net income of $4.7 million the same quarter of 2007.

In response, Radio One moved to diversify its operations by selling stations and buying digital businesses.

It sold stations in Miami and Los Angeles and acquired a Washington, D.C., radio station, WPRS-FM, and the social networking firm Community Connect, which includes, and, all online ethnic social networking properties.

 The moves were an effort by Radio One to “increase radio market share, cut costs and diversify into TV and online revenues,” CEO Alfred Liggins told the Washington  Business Journal. “Clearly all advertising based companies, including radio, are experiencing extremely challenging times given the slowdown in consumer spending, and I expect this to continue through all of 2009,” he said.36

Sheridan Broadcasting and American Urban Radio Networks are two other major black-owned radio companies. Sheridan Broadcasting currently owns and operates five radio stations.  American Urban Radio Networks is a division of Sheridan and was founded as a partnership between then competing National Black Network and Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation in 1991.37 The company broadcasts to more than 300 stations and reaches an estimated 20 million listeners each week, according to the company’s website.38 The company also has bureaus in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington.

The audience for black radio programming is significant.

Five black talk radio hosts again made Talkers Magazine’s top 100 list for 2008: Joe Madison, Bev Smith, Larry Elder, Lincoln Ware and Larry Young.

 Arbitron, the radio ratings agency, reported that in 2007, the latest year for which there were data, blacks made up roughly 3.9% of the listeners to stations categorized as news/talk/information each week.  This was up slightly from 3.6% in 2006.39  Arbitron does not break out black-focused radio stations from general market stations.
From 2006 to 2007, time spent by African Americans listening to news/talk/information radio increased by 15 minutes per week to an average of eight hours and fifteen minutes listening per week from an average of eight hours the previous year.40

Arbitron had a bumpy year in its relations with the ethnic press. Its new portable  people meter ratings system came under fire for under-representing young African Americans and Hispanics, non-English speakers and cell phone-only houses.

The issue boiled over in October, when Arbitron released the first ratings generated by the new devices. New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo responded with a lawsuit.41

The accuracy of the ratings system has serious implications for African American radio stations, because if audiences of urban stations are underrepresented, it will make it difficult to attract advertisers.


In general, black-oriented media have struggled to find a future online.

One challenge has been lower Internet usage among blacks. According to the latest Pew Internet & American Life Project, 64% of African Americans use the Internet, compared to 77% of whites and 58% of  Hispanics.42

But that is beginning to change. Use among blacks is increasing and at equal or faster rates than among whites or Hispanics. Between the end of 2000 and 2008, African American Internet usage has increased by 22 percentage points, from 42% in 2000 to 64% in 2008. This compares with a 10-point increase for Hispanics from 48% in 2000 to 58% in 2008 and a 22-point increase for whites from 55% in 2000 to 77% in 2008.43

With that in mind, some African American news outlets boosted their online investment in 2008.  And unprecedented reader demand to have the news almost as it happened fueled by Barack Obama’s candidacy helped push some major black newspapers online in 2008.

In broadcast, Radio One, the largest radio broadcasting company targeted at African American and urban listeners, scaled back its broadcast operations so it could focus on its online project, InterativeOne, that began in 2007.  At the close of 2008, the online project included the websites,,,, and is an online news website targeted at African Americans. It combines news aggregated from traditional news sources with original content from contributors on issues and current events relevant to the African American community.

Together, the websites make a comprehensive web portal the company hoped would serve “the African American community through news, information entertainment and social networking.”44 

According to RadioOne, the combination of the sites makes InteractiveOne the “largest media entity for African Americans reaching more than 6 million unique visitors monthly.”45

One other notable success came as a spinoff from a more mainstream news outlet. was launched by the Washington Post in January 2008 and, as of January 2009 attracted an average of 228,000 people per month. The site drew a six-month high of 1.3 million people per month in August, according to estimates by the Web analytics service Quantcast.46 declined to provide more specific traffic numbers.

For comparison, it was estimated the Washington Post’s website attracted on average 9.5 million people per month and had a six-month high of about 10 million people per month in September.

The site’s editor in chief and co-founder is Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. Among its contributors during its first year were the playwright Keith Josef Adkins, Harvard W.E.B DuBois Professor Lawrence Bobo, Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Professor Marc Lamont Hill of Temple University.

According to the site, “The Root aims to be an unprecedented departure from traditional American journalism, raising the profile of black voices in mainstream media and engaging anyone interested in black culture around the world.”

Its news page aggregates stories from a variety of media. Two weeks before the election, for example, it featured links to a Washington Post article on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s fundraising, a Politico article on the lack of support for Republican rival John McCain, and a New York Times story on an American airstrike against Taliban targets in Pakistan.

Its views section included commentary such as a retrospective on the release 40 years earlier of the album “Electric Ladyland” by black rocker Jimi Hendrix and a piece on why Jews should vote for Obama.

A lengthy blogroll featured links to the black-oriented gossip site Bossip, one devoted to a discourse on race called Racialicious, and another that explores black contributions to classical music called AfriClassical.

In April 2008, Advertising Age reported that many black newspapers had struggled with digital editions, and after launching a national online portal for black newspapers in 2001, the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the black press organization, currently averages only about 10,000 hits per week.47  As the presidential campaign heated up, though, and Barack Obama became the Democratic nominee, many in the black press energized their online efforts.

The nine papers that make up the African American News & Information Consortium, for example, boosted their websites and e-publications in 2008. In addition, one of the papers, the Afro-American, dedicated increased resources to covering Obama’s candidacy and getting news out to readers  in almost real time.

According to the Afro’s publisher, John J. Oliver Jr., during the early primary season the paper sent reporters to the Democratic Convention in Denver who posted stories online from the floor and continued through the campaign. 48

Oliver said that moving online “is a risk all newspapers need to take” and that the aggressive online push that the paper made helped to attract younger readers. “Having just a website isn’t enough,” he said. “You need e-mail blasts, mobile alerts, anything that will get the news out before it hits the street.”49

Elinor Tatum of the Amsterdam News also underscored the importance of the online move, calling it “simply a matter of what needs to be done.”50

In perhaps the boldest move in this market, the 20,000-circulation San Francisco Bay View newspaper decided in 2008 to abandon print altogether.

The headline on its final issue announced its strategy: “The Bay View’s not dead; we’ll see you on the web!”51 Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff told New America Media that the paper would save 82% of its costs with the move. It has managed to maintain an online presence but later in the year reported more financial trouble.

One area that gained promise in 2007 was the African American blogosphere, the AfroSpear, also known as the Afrosphere. Its role in drawing attention to the case of the Jena Six, the black students arrested after a school fight in Louisiana in which a white students was beaten, established it among blacks as a popular way to discuss African American news.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s historic candidacy provided more fodder for the Afrosphere. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that, according to Electronic Village, a blog run by Wayne Hicks, a member of the 140-member AfroSpear collective, the number of black blogs has increased from 75 in September of 2007 to 1,239 in July of 2008., a San Francisco-based blog that seeks to be a “black,” has grown from 100,000 members to 417,000 in the past year, the paper reported.52

But most of these news-oriented sites remain far less popular than mainstream news sites such as,, and

African Print

In addition to the African American press, there are also many publications serving the African immigrant community in the United States. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, African immigrants totaled 881,300, making up 0.3% of the total population in that  year.53

Although the population is small, there are several newspapers that cater to the African immigrant community. Many of the publications are quarterly, but there are some that publish twice a month and even weekly.

An example of one of the larger African publications is African Connection Newspaper, which is a paper published twice a month established in 1988 that publishes out of Los Angeles. The paper calls itself “a cross-cultural news publication [that] feature[s] objective reports, commentary and analysis on important events and trends in world affairs.”54 African Connection has an audited circulation of 200,000 nationwide.55

The African Sun Times is another newspaper targeting the pan-African community, this one in the New York tristate area. It is published weekly out of East Orange, New Jersey. The paper calls itself “America’s #1 African Newsweekly” and reports an audited national circulation of 45,600.56 The paper also has an impressive website, offering articles on diplomacy, law, health, aw, media and other topics. The African Sun Times also owns All Africa Radio, a weekly four-hour AM talk/music radio program for listeners in the New York metro area. 57

Papers that target African immigrants by nationality include the Ethiopian Review and Zethiopia, both published in Washington, D.C.; The Warsan Times targeting the Somali community and published in Minneapolis, Minn.; the Liberian Journal, published online only out of Brooklyn Park, Minn., and the West African News, published online in New York targeting the sub-Saharan African population.


1.Radio One & Yankelovich, “Black America Today.”

2. Radio One & Yankelovich, “Black America Today.”

3.Mya Frazier, “The Catch-22 of Buying Black Media,” Advertising Age. April 7, 2008.

4. Mya Frazier, “The Catch-22 of Buying Black Media,” Advertising Age. April 7, 2008.

The Black Press of America also reported sharp membership declines.

5. Audit Bureau of Circulations publisher’s statement for the period ending September 30

6. Audit Bureau of Circulations publisher’s statement for the period ending September 30

7. Audit Bureau of Circulations publisher’s statement for the period ending September 30

8. Audit Bureau of Circulations publisher’s statement for the period ending September 30

9. Mya Frazier, “The Catch-22 of Buying Black Media,” Advertising Age, April 7, 2008.

10. David T. Clark, “Weak Circulation Trends Across Industry,” Deutsche Bank Global Markets Research, Oct. 27, 2008

11. Phone Interview with Elinor Tatum, October 2008

12. Mya Frazier, “The Catch-22 of Buying Black Media,” Advertising Age, April 7, 2008

13. Phone Interview with John J. Oliver Jr., publisher, Baltimore and Washington Afro-American, October 2008

14. Phone Interview with John J. Oliver Jr., publisher, Baltimore and Washington Afro-American, October 2008

15. Ngoc Nguyen, “Ethnic Print Media Vulnerable During Bad Economy,” New America Media, October 2, 2008.

*New America Media is a California-based association of ethnic news organizations founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996. According to its website,  “NAM is dedicated to bringing the voices of the marginalized -ethnic minorities, immigrants, young people, elderly -- into the national discourse.”

16. Audit Bureau of Circulations publishers’ statements for the period ending June 30

17. Audit Bureau of Circulations Publisher’s Statement for the period ending June 30. Although Essence is a black-focused magazine, it is no longer black-owned. In 2000, Time Warner purchased 49% of Essence Communications and in 2005  bought the remaining 51% of the company.

18. “Rise Up Magazine Stops Publishing to Retool for Expansion,” Kansas City Business Journal, August 19, 2008.

19. “Rise Up Magazine Stops Publishing to Retool for Expansion,” Kansas City Business Journal, August 19, 2008.

20. SNL Kagan, Economics of Basic Cable, 2008 Edition

21. Africa Channel. Press Release: The Africa Channel and Time Warner Cable’s New York. September 9, 2008.

22. BET Press Releases, September 2007 and 2008

23. TV One Press Releases, September 2007 and 2008

24. Mya Frazier, “The Catch -22 of Buying Black Media.”. Advertising Age., April 7, 2008

25. Derek Turner and& Mark Cooper, “Left Out of the Picture: Minority & Female TV Station Ownership in the United States,” Free Press, October 2006

26. Marcia A. Wade, “FCC Hearing Broaches Media Ownership for Minorities, Black Enterprise magazine, August 6, 2008.

27. Marcia A. Wade, “FCC Hearing Broaches Media Ownership for Minorities, Black Enterprise magazine, August 6, 2008.

28. Richard Prince, “Bob Johnson Planning New TV Network,” Maynard Institute’s Journal-Isms, November 25, 2008.

29. Helena Andrews. “Watts Launches African-American Channel,” Politico, July 17, 2008.  

30. Helena Andrews. “Watts Launches African-American Channel,” Politico, July 17, 2008.  

31. Marketwatch Online, “Better Black Television Set to Launch Worldwide in 2009,” August 15, 2008.{84DACE55-1089-4DB5-8992-4223A5DF65EE}&dist=hppr  

32. Richard Prince, “Bob Johnson Planning New TV Network,” Maynard Institute’s Journal-Isms, November 25, 2008.

33. John Eggerton,NCTA Opposes Urban TV Proposal,” Broadcasting & Cable, December 30, 2008.

34. Phone interview, October 2008.

35. Radio One financial statements, net (loss) income for the nine months ended Sept 30, 2008.

36. Tierney Plumb, “Profits Plummet at Radio One,” Washington Business Journal, November 6, 2008.

37. American Urban Radio Networks Online, company profile.

38. American Urban Radio Networks online, company overview.

39. Arbitron, Black Radio Today, 2008 Edition

40. Arbitron, Black Radio Today, 2008 Edition

41. Brian Stelter, “Cuomo to Sue Radio Ratings Company, Claiming Minorities Are Underrepresented,” New York Times, October 6, 2008.

42. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Who’s Online, Demographics of Internet Users.

43. Pew Internet & American Life Project. Demographics of Internet Users Spreadsheet March 2000-May 2008.

44. Radio One Online, “Our Properties.”

45. Press Release, “Radio One’s Interactive Unit Creates the Largest Online African American Community,” August 7, 2008.

46. Quantcast Web Analytics Online,

47. Mya Frazier, “The Catch-22 of Buying Black Media,” Advertising Age, April 7, 2008

48. Phone interview with John J. Oliver Jr., publisher, Baltimore and Washington Afro-American, December 2008

49. Phone interview with John J. Oliver Jr. , publisher, Baltimore and Washington Afro-American, December 2008

50. Phone interview with Elinor Tatum, editor in chief and publisher, New York Amsterdam News, October 2008

51. JR Valrey, “San Francisco Black Paper Dumps Print Goes All Online, New America Media, August 15, 2008.

52. Joe Garifoli. “Black Bloggers Fight to Make Voices Heard.” San Francisco Chronicle. May 31, 2008.

53. U.S. Census. Profile of Selected Demographic and Social Characteristics: 2000.

54. African Connection Newspaper Online, About Us.

55. New America Media Online Ethnic Media Directory (subscribers only).

*New America Media is a California-based association of ethnic news organizations founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996. According to its website,  “NAM is dedicated to bringing the voices of the marginalized -ethnic minorities, immigrants, young people, elderly -- into the national discourse.”

56. African Sun Times 2008 Media Kit

57. African Sun Times 2008 Media Kit

The Obama Factor

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

The nomination of the first African American for President was significant for all ethnic media, but especially big for African American outlets. When asked what the “big story” of the year was for the Black Press, Elinor Tatum of the New York Amsterdam News had two words: “Barack Obama.”

African American media outlets invested heavily in coverage, with the two black-oriented cable channels providing their first gavel-to-gavel coverage of a political party convention and focusing almost solely on news coverage for the convention, election night and  Obama’s inauguration. The major African American magazines- Essence, Ebony and Jet-  all added some form of regular White House coverage to their content.1 Some of the largest African American newspapers saw big increases in subscriptions and sold thousands more copies beyond their average circulations following Election Day.

And black talk radio became so influential during the elections that the New York Times deemed the medium “The Left’s Answer to Limbaugh.”2

The Obama campaign hired a communications strategist “to focus exclusively on black media and help with an intensified effort to take advantage of their excitement about Mr. Obama’s candidacy.”3

In print, Essence’s January 2009 magazine featured two different covers, one with Michelle Obama and the other with Barack Obama. Ebony dedicated its entire January 2009 issue to Obama and named him as the person of the year, a first for the magazine. The magazine also landed Obama’s first post-election interview.4

Afro American newspapers responded to Obama’s candidacy by stepping up their online operations and the New York Amsterdam News reported selling in excess of 200,000 copies of its issue following Obama’s election. The paper also saw an uptick in subscription sales and visitors to its website, according to Elinor Tatum, the paper’s editor in chief and publisher.

Among black television channels, TV One spent $1 million to cover the Democratic National Convention  gavel to gavel and added a talk show to the lineup called TV One Live: DNC Afterparty.5

The effort reaped benefits. Its prime-time coverage reached a total of 2.6 million viewers, 2.2 million of them African American.6

On the night of the convention when Obama made his acceptance speech, TV One was the second-most watched cable network by African Americans, behind only CNN, according to Nielsen Media Research.

On election night, TV One began its comprehensive coverage, “Election Night 08: A Vote for Change,” at 7 p.m. and continued late into the night after Obama’s election. The channel’s team included anchors Arthur Fennell, Joe Madison and Jacque Reid in the studio, with reporters in the field in seven locations. Commentators included Michael Eric Dyson, Tom Joyner and Roland Martin, among others. TV One used Associated Press resources for its information.

And for the inauguration, TV One dedicated 24 hours of programming to the event. Its coverage of the inauguration began at 7 a.m., with live coverage beginning at 10 a.m. The coverage of the day’s events included live reports and interviews from the inauguration ceremony, parade and inaugural balls by TV One commentators and reporters sent to the inauguration, as well as some previously aired documentaries and interviews.

The largest black channel, BET, also took steps to link itself to the presidential elections. During the Democratic convention, BET featured periodic reports and interviews from the floor and carried Obama’s acceptance speech live.

BET discontinued its nightly newscast in 2005 but it presented the debut of a new weekly news program, The Truth With Jeff Johnson, during the Democratic convention.

BET scaled back its coverage significantly for the Republican National Convention, drawing some criticism about the ability of the cable network to remain objective while at the same time covering Obama’s nomination.

On election day, BET offered news updates and extended its coverage of the election all of the next day, featuring a mix of live coverage and airings of Obama speeches, viewer call-ins and celebrity commentators.7 BET began its election night coverage at 6 p.m. with a special edition of 106 & Park, a popular entertainment show normally seen at that time.

The prime-time coverage, “Be Heard Election 2008,” started at 8 p.m. The BET team was led by Jeff Johnson and correspondents in the field and featured political analyst Kevin Boykin, political pundits Jamal Simmons, Keli Goff and Angela McGowan and Marcus Mabry, an editor at the New York Times.8

For the inauguration, BET covered the ceremony and parade from four locations and featured several special reports on topic such as Obama’s international appeal, his security, Michelle Obama a look at individual voters who helped elect Obama.

The interest in the election was also evident on African American radio.

Black talk radio hosts Bev Smith, Tom Joyner, Warren Ballentine, Michael Baisden, Tavis Smiley and Al Sharpton were vocal during the primary season. Many were in high demand to offer perspectives on mainstream cable channels.

Obama’s candidacy also prompted all the presidential candidates to make more use of black talk radio as a way of reaching out to the African American community.9

During the primary campaign, Obama appeared for interviews on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the Michael Basiden Show and the Steve Harvey Morning Show.10

Radio One stations conducted a one-day voter registration drive that enrolled 30,000 new voters.11

Online, the coverage of Obama’s candidacy was plentiful as well. and blogged from the Democratic convention.

There were celebrity webisodes and news feeds from TV One and during the event. The site also interviewed Michelle Obama and featured live interactive forums during the convention.12

The convention granted unprecedented access to bloggers. However, the party came under fire from African American bloggers.

Francis L. Holland, of the Afrosphere Action Coalition, complained to Black Enterprise magazine that black blogs only made up slightly more than 7% of the bloggers credentialed for the convention.13

Notable credentialed African American blogs included: African American Political Pundit, Jack and Jill Politics, Pam’s House Blend, Dallas South, What About Our Daughters, Culture Kitchen and Georgia Politics Unfiltered.14

Leading up to and on Election Day, featured comprehensive coverage “intended to represent a multifaceted multigenerational view of the African American experience around Election Day.”15

The website used its base of writers and also allowed the public to submit personal stories and photos that helped convey individual African American experiences during the election. Features on the website included a piece on the Internet’s impact on the election, a story on Michelle Obama as the First Lady and the evolution of American identity by prominent Root writers.16

The Obama candidacy seemed to push many outlets to include more news in their regular mix of programming and printing than in previous years, even in a worsening economy. One thing to watch for is if these trends continue through Obama’s term as President.


1. Nia-Malika Henderson,“Obama Brings firsts for Black Press,” Politico. January 3, 2009.

2. Jim Rutenberg, “Black Radio on Obama Is Left’s Answer to Limbaugh, New York Times. July 27, 2008.

3. Jim Rutenberg, “Black Radio on Obama Is Left’s Answer to Limbaugh, New York Times. July 27, 2008.

4. Nia-Malika Henderson,  “Obama Brings Firsts for Black Press,” Politico, January 3, 2009.

5. Greg Braxton,  “Will Obama Reports Be Fair?” Los Angeles Times,  August 23, 2008.,0,5934044.story

6. Press release, “TV One’s Democratic Convention Coverage Reaches 2.6 Million Viewers, Including 2.2 Million African American Viewers,” TV One, September 3, 2008.

7. BET press release, “BET News Provides Extensive, Up-to-the-Minute Election Coverage,” October 31, 2008.

8. BET press release, “BET News Provides Extensive, Up-to-the-Minute Election Coverage,” October 31, 2008.

9. Chandra R. Thomas, “How Black Radio Found Its Voice” Time magazine, April 5, 2008.,8599,1728240,00.html

10. Jim Rutenberg, “Black Radio on Obama Is Left’s Answer to Limbaugh, New York Times. July 27, 2008.

11. Press Release, “Hip Hop Caucus. Respect My Vote Campaign Reaches Thousands During Nationwide One-Day Voter Registration Drive.”

12. Press Release, “Radio One’s Interactive Unit to Offer Exclusive Content Covering the Democratic National Convention on and,” August 26, 2008.

13. Ann Brown. New Media Dilemma for the Democratic Convention. Black Enterprise Magazine. July 18, 2008.

14. Democratic National Convention Website. Credentialed Blogs.

15. Press Release. The Root Captures African-American Experience Around U.S. Presidential Race. October 30, 2008.

16. press release, “The Root Captures African-American Experience Around U.S. Presidential Race,” October 30, 2008.

Asian American Media

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism


Asian Americans comprise a variety of small and fractured markets. But their affluence theoretically makes many of those markets tempting.  Various media outlets, based in the United States or abroad, have tried to tap into this potential, with mixed success.

In 2008, Asian media saw success in some quarters — particularly large papers and online —and trouble elsewhere, especially some smaller papers and in television. However, toward the end of the year, Asian American media suffered a big setback as one of its largest and most successful weekly newspapers, Asian Week was forced to fold in the midst of the recession. As in most media, the forecast heading into 2009 looked more difficult for everyone.

Among the winners, several leading newspapers saw circulation stability or growth during the year, in contrast with most mainstream newspapers.

Some think an element of that success has been to appeal to Asian Americans not through their native languages but through their newer shared one: English. 

Some smaller Asian American newspapers had a harder time in 2008, however, suffering declines in ad revenue as a result of the recession, especially those in California, where a severe housing slump has eaten into real estate advertising revenue. 

And in a sign of a maturing industry, a number of publishers have formed an association to promote their common interests.

On the television side, meanwhile, the picture was less positive. New Tang Dynasty, a New York-based nonprofit that described itself as the only independent television station broadcasting into China, found itself effectively blocked from that country in a dispute with the Chinese authorities. And the cable giant Comcast  closed AZN Television, which had been promoted as a “network for Asian America.”


Asian Americans represent, by percentage, the fastest growing ethnicity in the country.. Though they remain relatively small in numbers, Asian Americans households are disproportionately wealthy, making them a lucrative target for publishers and broadcasters.

Nearly 16 million Americans, or just over 5% of the U.S. population, identify themselves as Asian American or Asian Pacific Islander.1   By 2050, the figure is expected to increase to 9%.2 

One in three Asian Americans have a household income that exceeds $100,000 (36%), compared with 25% of American households as a whole.3 Asians are also more likely than other groups to make expensive purchases like new cars and designer clothing, according to a Packaged Facts report.4

Their buying power, too, is among the fastest growing of any demographic group. Asian- Americans are estimated to have $254 billion in annual buying power.5 Between 1990 and 2007, Asian buying power had increased 294%. Only Hispanics, at 307%, grew faster, according to Jeffrey Humphreys of the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.6

Asian American Median Income vs. Other Races/Ethnicities 2007

Design Your Own Chart

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Despite the growth and relative wealth of Asians, Asian American media continues to face challenges reaching this audience and attracting advertisers, for a variety of reasons.

One is the population is exceptionally diverse in nationality and speaks a host of languages (unlike the Hispanic market). The Magazine Publishers of America reported that 90% of Asian Americans come from six countries: China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. The largest populations are Chinese and Filipino.7

The closest the market comes to a common language may very well be English. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 80% of Asian Americans report that they “speak English very well” and one fifth (21%) say they speak only English.8

There are conflicting views on whether Asian Americans’ high rates of fluency in English helps or hurts Asian American media.

On the one hand, if Asian Americans can get their news from mainstream media in English, they may see less reason to turn to Asian-oriented news outlets.  Fully 78% say they consume both ethnic and English-language media, and only 12% say they consume only media in their native language.9

On the other hand, others say Asian media remain attractive because those outlets provide cultural news and information unavailable in traditional general market outlets. And English, they note, can be a good tool for reaching a linguistically diverse population.

The result is that some Asian media outlets are trying to create a bi-cultural Asian American media. The content here speaks to the Asian cultural heritage of readers, has an international focus and relates to the audience’s Americanism at the same time.

Good examples of this are in the Filipino and South Asian communities. “It is not uncommon to find that the most effective ads addressing Filipino and South Asian consumers are in a hybrid form of their language and English, such as Tagalog (Filipino) and English, which is affectively known as Taglish,” Bill Imada of the IW Group, a leading Asian American ad agency, wrote on his Advertising Age blog.10

But Asian American media outlets are still trying convince advertisers of the market’s strength.  These advertisers, professionals say, often still hesitate to invest in ethnic media, especially in English, because they feel they can reach the market through mainstream publications and because the Asian market, relatively, is small.
“Advertisers have to realize that advertising in ethnic media should not be a one-time thing or a diversity initiative,” said Leslie Yngojo-Bowes of USAsian Wire, an online service that distributes press releases to Asian-American media outlets.11


Success in the Asian press in 2008 seemed to depend, in part at least, on where the paper was based and what language it used.

Some of the larger in-language newspapers serving the American market were based not in the United States but in Asian countries that were not as badly affected by the sharp decline of the American economy. Others, especially those based in California, where the bursting housing bubble was felt most severely, were forced to cut back.

The National Association of Asian Publishers was formed at a March 2008 conference of the Newspaper Association of America.

The new association’s co-founder Leslie Yngojo-Bowes, president of USAsian Wire, said the group’s establishment “dovetails … with the continuing expansion of Asian American media.”12  The group said its mission was to “reach out to over 400 identified Asian print, electronic and online publishers throughout the United States” and focus on “market research, matching circulation verification and analysis with the needs of advertisers, and developing new leaders in the field of Asian Pacific American publishing.”13

Some publications attempted, with mixed success, to participate in audits for the first time. During the first quarter of 2008, Verified Audit Circulation, an organization that verifies circulation  figures, saw an uptick in Asian publications seeking to get audited, according to Josh Luck, field verification manager for the organization. But by the third quarter, he said, the number had dropped off as the economy worsened.14

One of those papers that succeeded was Balita, a Southern California paper for the Filipino community that subscribed to Verified Audit Circulation. The first audit is expected to be released in mid-2009.

The executive editor,  Amee Enriquez, told USAsian Wire, “We wanted to add more credibility to our newspaper. What a better way to do so than joining the ranks of other reputable news organizations that underwent the same process?”15

Raju Kotak, founder of, a social networking portal for South Asians, said the lack of audits, which are necessary to build advertiser confidence and relationships, had  hurt Asian American publications.16

Two Asian American newspapers demonstrated the value of an English-only strategy, at least until the economy turned down, causing one of them to fold.  With so many Asian languages in the market and a high rate of English fluency among Asians, English content has the potential for a much broader overall audience.  The challenge there is to cover all the various ethnic interests.

 Pan-Asian Media

One strategy, aimed at enlarging the market power of Asian American media, has been to create a pan-Asian publication published in English, the one common language of U.S. Asians. AsianWeek, which called itself “the only English-language newsweekly for Asian Pacific Americans,” was the model here.

But early in 2009, the paper published its last print edition, citing the economy as the reason for its closing. “There are fewer major newspapers, fewer newspaper readers and fewer newspaper advertisers than ever before,” Ted Fang, the editor, and James Fang, the  publisher, said in a letter published in the newspaper. The paper said it would continue to publish online, but Ted Fang said that all staff had been laid off. The focus of AsianWeek, Fang said, would shift to doing more “community work.”17

The loss of the paper raised concerns among the Asian American community of an increasing gap in coverage of Asian Americans in the mainstream media that traditionally has been filled by the ethnic media but is now especially vulnerable due to the recession.

Before its closing in January 2009, the paper says it had success for 30 years.  Since its establishment in 1979, it had served as an important model for the Asian American ethnic media industry.

Before it stopped printing, the English-language publication’s San Francisco and national editions average circulation had totaled 58,882. This is the latest circulation information available for 2008 (July-September 2008) before the paper stopped printing.18 

It boasted a readership with demographics that would be the envy of any publisher: 44% of its readers reported annual incomes in excess of $100,000, 38% owned a business, 60% owned their own homes and 77% held  a college degree. Among its advertisers were some of the best known retailers, such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, Best Buy and Home Depot. 

Fang was optimistic even going into the last quarter of 2008. “If there is a sweet spot in this recessionary economy, it is in the Asian Market. … As long as Asian market media can demonstrate verifiable and targeted readership, we can bring results to advertisers and continue to survive and grow,” he said.19

In the end, however, the paper was not immune to the recession. Nikki Cranor, AsianWeek’s associate publisher, told PEJ that there was a general slowdown in attracting long-term contracts toward the end of 2008 and that small-business advertising had been slowing down for some time.20

Ethnic-Specific Papers

Other publications report success targeting readers by nationality, often doing so in the native language of their audience, although in many cases their circulation figures are not audited.

One paper, the Epoch Times, has taken the native-language strategy to an extreme by trying to expand into a chain empire. Epoch Times says the approach is having success, although its circulation is not audited. The paper began in 2000 as a Chinese-language paper in New York City and has since added offices around the world and editions in nine other languages. Its website is available in a 17 languages, including English.21  
The weekly says it has a national circulation of 100,000 and a worldwide circulation of more than 1 million.22 The New York Times has reported the paper’s connection with the Falun Gong spiritual movement that has been banned in China, although the paper denies any formal affiliation with the group.23


Among the biggest non-English Asian American media outlets are those that publish in Chinese, a language widely spoken throughout Asia.

For example, the Sing Tao Daily, founded in 1938 in Hong Kong and owned by Sing Tao News, has grown into one of the largest Chinese-language media operating in the United States.

The paper’s website says that 85% of those who read Chinese newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area read the Sing Tao Daily. The Eastern edition of the paper, distributed in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, says it reaches 250,000 readers daily.24

The company also owns three radio stations in California.  It has offices in mainland China, Taiwan, Australia and Canada. The company’s U. S. offices are in various cities in California as well as Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.25

In 2008, the Boston edition of the paper prints 13,000 copies daily, New York 50,000 daily, Philadelphia 10,000 a day and Chicago 8,000, Jenny Wong of the newspaper’s advertising office told PEJ.26

Although she declined to provide specific 2007 numbers, she said the circulation experienced little change from 2007 to 2008.

World Journal, a Chinese-language newspaper based in Taiwan with U.S. headquarters in New York and Los Angeles, is a competitor of the Sing Tao Daily, and is published in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Texas, and it is distributed nationwide. The paper was founded in 1976 and although specific circulation numbers are not available, it calls itself the most widely read newspaper in North America in Chinese.27


The Korea Times and the Korea Daily are the two most widely read Korean newspapers in the U.S. Both are based in Korea but distribute widely in the United States.

The Korea Daily has editions in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Hawaii, Seattle, Denver, Dallas and San Diego. The Korea Times has editions in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Texas and Hawaii.

Advertising revenue at the papers slipped in 2008, but not as much as it had when the Asian market in the 1990s, said Kenneth Kim, an editor for New America Media and former reporter for the Korea Times and Korea Daily. Kim said he was “optimistic about the ability of the Korean media to manage the impact of the economic downturn,” especially given its location outside the U.S.28

Though the data are limited, the U.S.-based Korean-language press also showed signs of stability in 2008.

Korean Journal, a Korean-language monthly based in Houston, has demonstrated a stable circulation over the past several years. It reported an audited circulation of 100,166 in June 2008. That was a slight over the same time a year earlier.29

Another publication that could be a real competitor in the Korean market is KoreAm Journal, an English-language magazine that increased subscriptions in 2008 after some trouble in August.

Owned by the Korea Times,30 KoreAm started out as a local paper in Gardenia, Calif., went national in 1997 and now reports a total print readership of 43,000 and averages 23,000 website hits per day.31 According to its website, KoreAm “embraces all generations of readers, including the mixed-race and adoptee communities,” and “has become the most widely circulated” independent English-language publication serving the Korean American community.32

One way that KoreAm helped itself in 2008 was by issuing an unusual, and apparently successful, appeal for support. Its August issue carried a letter from its publisher saying it needed more subscribers and advertisers to stay in business.33  “If this publication is something our community values, we want our readers to participate in the process more,” the publisher, James Ryu, said in an interview with New America Media in September 2008.34

After the plea, new subscriptions the next month increased almost four fold from an average of 20 subscriptions per month to 95.35


Other native language Asian-American publications reported more difficulty.

The small Viet Tribune in San Jose, Calif., for example, suffered from a decline in restaurant and real estate advertising brought on by the 2008 economic downturn. Its publisher, Vivian Truong Gia, said in October that her real estate section had shrunk from 20 pages to 8, and that the company had lost 20% of its revenue. It cut staff and its newshole to compensate.36

Nguoi Viet, which calls itself the largest Vietnamese-language paper in the United States, reported that its circulation held steady in 2008, at 17,500. The paper is published in Westminster, Calif., and has an average daily readership of 30,000.37 The paper is mostly distributed in Southern California, but has more than 1,000 out-of-state subscribers.38

In an illustration of the sensitivities faced by the ethnic press, Nguoi Viet drew protests from the Vietnamese community in January 2008 after it published a photo of a foot spa painted in the colors of the flag of communist Vietnam.39

After a week of picketing outside the newspaper’s offices, it apologized for the photo, fired two top editors and issued refunds for that issue of the paper. But a small number of demonstrators still remained outside the offices, protesting through nearly the middle of the year. In April, an Orange County judge put restrictions on the demonstrators, saying their behavior was too disruptive, and the newspaper filed lawsuits against three of the protesters.40

One of the fired editors, , Hao Nhien Vu, went on to create his own blog to cover the news of the Vietnam community: “The Bolsavik: All Viet, all the time.”41


Filipinos are the second largest segment of the Asian American population behind only Chinese-Americans.42 English is an official language in the Philippines, along with Filipino, a language based on Tagalog, and much of the Filipino-American media outlets are in English.

One example is Filipinas Magazine, a monthly news magazine for the Filipino community published in Daly City, Calif., which said it had also experienced a dropoff in its real-estate section, hurting revenues. It’s income from real estate advertising, a major source of income for the magazine, dropped 12%.   Partly as a result, the paper also had to cut its overseas staff, move to a smaller office and cut paper use.43

Asian Television  

The diversity of languages that makes up the Asian-American community is especially difficult for television and radio, where programming is primarily in the native language, which leaves a handful of broadcasters serving narrow segments of the population. This is especially hard for television programmers, where the cost to entry into the business can be higher than it is in print, and room on cable systems is limited.

To address this, some stations have tried block programming. In these cases, the station broadcasts programs in a variety of languages in different blocks throughout the day.

It was a difficult year for Asian American television in 2008. One element in that difficult year, oddly, was the fact that one of the major stories of the year happened in Asia.

One of the largest Asian broadcasters, New Tang Dynasty Television, broadcasts in Chinese and had a high-profile run-in with the Chinese government before the Beijing Olympic Games.

New Tang Dynasty Television was started in 2001 with the goal of becoming the Chinese CNN. It had since grown into a satellite network that broadcasts Western-style news and entertainment 24 hours a day in Mandarin and Cantonese to Chinese communities in the United States.44

The New York-based NTDTV reported having correspondents in over 70 cities worldwide and was, before the Olympic Games, permitted to broadcast via satellite into China. It called itself the only station available to the Chinese citizens that was independent of the Chinese government.45

Seven weeks before the games started, however, the channel lost its satellite feed. It had not been restored as of the end of 2008. The broadcaster had been utilizing a satellite operated by Eutelstat, a private company founded by a consortium of European governments.46

Eutelstat blamed a “power generator subsystem anomaly,” but NTDTV said it had evidence that the cutoff was a response to pressure from the Chinese government. A man answering the phone at the Chinese embassy said the Chinese government had not issued an  statement on the satellite feed and declined to comment.

 “The harm this interruption has caused to NTDTV and our audience must end. We will spare no effort to obtain a full accounting of the situation and to restore NTDTV’s open satellite broadcast over Asia as soon as possible,” said Zhong Lee, president of NTDTV.

The situation prompted the station to launch the Freedom Satellite for China plan that would raise funds for the station to buy its own satellite capabilities.47  In October 2008, 68 members of the U.S. House of Representatives also sent a letter to Eutelsat urging the company to restore the satellite service. This was followed by 477 members of the European Parliament signing a written declaration in support of New Tang Dynasty Television in January of 2009.

Following the declaration, Eutelsat released an official statement that said the outage was “irreversible and purely technical.”48

Before the dispute, NTDTV had expanded its coverage in the New York City area. The station struck an agreement to lease an hour of prime time from WMBC-TV 63, a station based in Newton, N.J.49

In May, the NTDTV announced that it would provide a mobile video portal that would deliver mobile content to iPhones and other smartphones on a subscription basis.50

The NTDTV dispute was not the only setback for Asian American television. Comcast pulled the plug in January 2008 on the three-year-old AZN Television, a pan-Asian channel initially described as a “network for Asian America.”  Comcast said it made the decision after it conducted “a review that included a study of the prospects for Asian American broadcast media by a leading management consulting company retained by the company.”

The review, Comcast said, included “a realistic consideration of the channel's failure to obtain meaningful support from advertisers and non-Comcast cable operators.” 51

The Filipino Channel, the largest television station targeting Filipino Americans in the United States, is also a strong player in Asian American media.
Established in 1994, the channel combines content produced in the U.S. and the Philippines and is distributed by cable and satellite operators. It reports having more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino American subscribers.52

Among its programs are Balitang America; Citizen Pinoy, a show focusing on immigration issues; Adobo Nation, a weekly talk show, and Pera Ko Pera Mo, a personal finance program.

Other Asian cable and satellite networks in the United States are the Vietnamese-language SBTN and the Chinese-language TVB. Another, TVK, aggregates programming from19 Korea-based networks and its own programs for Korean Americans in the U.S. 24 hours a day. 


Radio offers another avenue for reaching new immigrants and first-generation citizens. It is particularly strong in the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities and has networks like Little Saigon Radio Broadcasting.

Radio Korea International, popular in the Korean American community, calls itself “the nation’s sole foreign language promotional broadcast of Korea for the broadcast world.” The station broadcasts internationally and provides news programs on the politics, economy, society and culture of Korea, according to its website.

Houston has emerged as a center of South Asian American culture, as reflected on the radio dial. Little Saigon Radio, founded in 1993, broadcasts throughout California and in the Houston area. It says it aims to be “the most trusted voice in Vietnamese radio program in the U.S.”
A rival, Radio Saigon, is aimed at Vietnamese in Houston and calls itself the only full-time Asian station in Houston.53 


Recognizing the high rates of Internet usage among Asian Americans, Asian media outlets have moved online aggressively.
Asians use the Internet at higher rates than any other ethnic group in the country, according to the 2007 Current Population Survey conducted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. About 76% of Asian American households use the Internet, according to the latest data available. That compares with 67% of white households, 45% of black households and 43% of Hispanic households.54

The media serving this population are trying to keep up. Most of the larger Asian-American newspapers improved their websites in the past year, adding new features. Many added content in English, reflective of the potential marketers see in second-generation Asians.

World Journal and the Sing Tao Daily have both created sophisticated websites. The World Journal offers an e-paper version of the print edition and has a section for English news on the website that offers different content from the Chinese-language homepage.55 Nguoi Viet offers readers the choice between Nguoi Viet in Vietnamese and Nguoi Viet 2 in English.

A few outlets have decided to forgo the print version of a newspaper and launch with a completely online publication. The China Digital Times, run by the journalism school at the University of California at Berkeley, did just that as far back as 2003. The website’s content is a mix of articles written by the mainstream press on China and blogs from contributors. The site calls itself a “collaborative weblog” and allows readers to participate by posting links, commenting on stories in discussion forums and sharing photos. According to the Digital Times website, it “aims to aggregate the most up-to-the-minute news and analysis about China from around the Web, while providing independent reporting, translations from Chinese cyberspace and perspectives from across the geographical, political and social spectrum.”56

Some smaller Asian American outlets have been reluctant to make the online move because of the costs and the difficulty of estimating potential revenue.

“A small newspaper can look at the print edition and know how much money they made from putting the print ad in the paper, but online it is more complicated,” said Raju Kotak of expanded as potential competitor to the more traditional ethnic news outlets in 2008. The online wire service announced a strategic partnership with other ethnic news services and formed the Multicultural Newswire Alliance, which comprises Black PRWire, Hispanic PRWire and USAsianWire.58

USAsian was established in 2006 by Leslie Yngojo-Bowes, formerly of Business Wire, as what it calls an online newswire service that “specializes in distributing news releases and multimedia content reaching Asian, South Asian and Pacific Islander media outlets and organizations.”59

Taking the lead of a practice common in many Asian countries, USAsian Wire partnered with firms like Dynasign and Jistar Media to install digital screens in supermarkets frequented by Asian Americans. The digital screens are placed at the checkout, meat and other counters where people have to wait and provide a mix of scrolling news/information print with advertising, much like a digital billboard.60

The screens offer ethnic outlets a “way to appeal to people who wouldn’t necessarily pick up a newspaper or read their news online,” according to Yngojo-Bowes. An Asian supermarket chain, H-Mart, planned to have 80% of its stores outfitted with the screens by the end of 2008.61 This method of reaching consumers and readers has been common in Japan, Korea and other Asian countries for years.


1. Asian American Studies Center at UCLA,  “2008 Statistical Portrait of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders.”

2. Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn,  “U.S. Population Projections: 2005-2050,” Pew Hispanic Center, February 11, 2008.

3. Reuters,  “Affluent Asian-American Segment Generates Opportunities as Crown Jewel of Multicultural Market,” October 8, 2008.

4. Reuters,  “Affluent Asian-American Segment Generates Opportunities as Crown Jewel of Multicultural Market,” October 8, 2008.

5. Magazine Publishers of America, Asian-American Market Profile, 2004.

6.Jeffrey Humphreys, “Asian-American Buying Power,” Georgia Trend magazine, September 2008. The figure for non-Hispanic whites was 124% and 166% for African-Americans.

7.Magazine Publishers of America, Asian-American Market Profile, 2004.

8. Magazine Publishers of America, Asian-American Market Profile, 2004.

9.Asian American Journalists Association press release, “Study on Asian American Consumption Trends,” November 2, 2005.  

10. Bill Imada, “Four Myths About the Asian-American market,”  Big Tent Advertising Age Blog, October 31, 2007. 

11. Phone interview with Raju Kotak, founder of, September 2008.

12.USAsianWire, “National Association of Asian Publishers Launched at NAA Marketing Conference,” March 13, 2008.

13.USAsianWire, “National Association of Asian Publishers Launched at NAA Marketing Conference,” March 13, 2008.

14. Phone interview with Josh Luck, Verified Audit Circulation field verification manager, December 2008

15. Jennifer Armor,  “Asian Americans Are Good for Advertisers So Why Aren’t Advertisers Listening?” USAianWire, February 7, 2008.

16. Phone Interview with Raju Kotak, founder, September 2008

17. Ngoc Nguyen,“Loss of AsianWeek Increases Hole in Asian-American Coverage” New America Media, January 5, 2008.

*New America Media is a California-based association of ethnic news organizations founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996. According to its website,  “NAM is dedicated to bringing the voices of the marginalized -ethnic minorities, immigrants, young people, elderly -- into the national discourse.”

18. Verified Audit Circulation, AsianWeek Current Quarterly Submission (Publisher’s Statement), July-September 2008

19. Wendy Leung, “Asian American Ethnic Media Survives Through Tough Times,” September 29, 2008.

20. Interview with Nikki Cranor, December 3, 2008

21. Epoch Times Online, About Us.

22. Phone Interview Epoch Times, September 2008

23. "An Unexpected Shout of Dissent." New York Times. April 21, 2006.

24. Sing Tao Daily Online.

25. Sing Tao Daily Online.

26. Phone Interview with Jenny Wong, Sing Tao Daily, October 2008

27. World Journal Media Kit. 2008

28. Phone interview with Kenneth Kim, New America Media, September 2008

29. Audit Bureau of Circulations, publisher’s statement for the period ending June 30

30. Korea Times is a newspaper based in Korea that publishes in both English and Korean and circulates in 160 countries, including the U.S.

31. KoreAm Journal 2009-2010 Media Kit.

32. KoreAm Journal online, About Us.

33. Wendy Leung,  “Asian American Ethnic Media Survives Through Tough Times,” Asian Week, September 29, 2008

34.Ngoc Nguyen, “Ethnic Print Vulnerable During Bad Economy,” New America Media, October 2, 2008

*New America Media is a California-based association of ethnic news organizations founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996. According to its website,  “NAM is dedicated to bringing the voices of the marginalized -ethnic minorities, immigrants, young people, elderly -- into the national discourse.”

35. Wendy Leung,. “Asian American Ethnic Media Survives Through Tough Times,” Asian Week, September 29, 2008

36. Ngoc Nguyen, “Ethnic Print Media Vulnerable During Bad Economy,” New America Media, October 2, 2008

*New America Media is a California-based association of ethnic news organizations founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996. According to its website,  “NAM is dedicated to bringing the voices of the marginalized -ethnic minorities, immigrants, young people, elderly -- into the national discourse.”

37. Nguoi Viet Media Kit.

38. Nguoi Viet Media Kit.

39. My-Thuan Tran, “Judge Limits Protests at Vietnamese Newspaper,” Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2008.

40. My-Thuan Tran, “Judge Limits Protests at Vietnamese Newspaper,” Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2008.

41. Martin Wisckol. “Fired Nguoi Viet Editor Launches Little Saigon Blog,” Orange County Register Blog: Total Buzz, April 7, 2008.

42. Magazine Publishers of America, Asian-American Market Profile, 2004

43. Ngoc Nguyen, “Ethnic Print Vulnerable During Bad Economy, New America Media, October 2, 2008.

*New America Media is a California-based association of ethnic news organizations founded by the nonprofit Pacific News Service in 1996. According to its website,  “NAM is dedicated to bringing the voices of the marginalized -ethnic minorities, immigrants, young people, elderly -- into the national discourse.”

44. Szabolcs Toth, “Chinese news network in US finds perils of facing Beijing,”, August 24, 2003.

45. New Tang Dynasty Television Online, About NTDTV.

46. New Tang Dynasty TV,  press release, “Uncensored TV Service to China Shut Off,” June 23, 2008.

47. New Tang Dynasty TV, press release, “NTDTV Launches ‘Freedom Satellite for China’ Plan.

48. Peter J. Brown. Tang Dynasty TV Takes on China. Asia Times Online. February 14, 2009.

49. New Tang Dynasty TV, press release, “NTDTV Launches Major Coverage Expansion for Tri-State Area,” January 7, 2008.

50. New Tang Dynasty TV, press release, “New Tang Dynasty TV Launches Mobile Video Portal, Expands Its Distribution in North America,” May 19, 2008.

51. Jeff Yang, “The AZend,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 2008.

52.ABS-CBN International website, About Us.

53. Radio Saigon, Houston, coverage area.

54. National Telecommunications Information Administration, Current Population Survey,. Households Using the Internet in and Outside the Home, by Selected Characteristics: Total Urban, Rural, Principal City 2007.

55. World Journal Online

56. China Digital Times, About the China Digital Times.

57. Interview with Raju Kotak, October 23, 2008

58. USAsianWire, press release, March 13, 2007.

59. Phone Interview with Leslie Yngojo-Bowes, founder, USAsian Wire, September, 2008

60. Phone Interview with Leslie Yngojo-Bowes, founder, USAsian Wire, September, 2008

61. Phone Interview with Leslie Yngojo-Bowes, founder, USAsian Wire, September, 2008

Native and Arab American Media

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism


Native American media enjoyed a milestone in 2008 with the debut of first tribal cable network, and radio ownership was poised for a sharp expansion. But there were also fears that the recession would weaken some of the vulnerable media outlets serving the population.

Loris Ann Taylor of Native Public Media, which represents the interests of Native American-owned radio stations, Native Voice One (satellite) and other media platforms, said that the economic downturn could have a “trickle-down effect and that any hardships being felt at the national level of media would be magnified throughout the Native American community. … The economic downturn takes away buying power… tribal governments will reduce their workforces and people will have to reduce spending.”

At the close of 2008, however, there was anecdotal evidence that showed Native American media had not yet begun to see significant declines in operational revenues or staff cuts. Most experts expected to see the impact in 2009.


The population of Native Americans is small and concentrated primarily in the West.
Slightly more than 2.4 million people were identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, making up about 1% of the U.S. population in 2007, according to the latest estimates available from the U.S. Census Bureau.1

The Native American population has its greatest concentrations in California (689,000), Oklahoma (394,000) and Arizona (335,000).2

The population is notably poor. Native Americans have the second-lowest annual median household income: $35,343, just ahead of African Americans. That compares with a national median income of $50,740. They also have the highest percentage of people living in poverty. In 2007, more than a quarter of Native Americans (25.3%) lived below the so-called poverty line, compared with 10.2% of whites, 24.7% of blacks, 10.6% of Asians and 20.7% of Hispanics.3

There is little data on Native American media consumption, but according to experts, print and radio are the two most common sources of news information for Native Americans.

 According to Taylor, executive director of Native Public Media, a nonprofit organization that promotes Native American media ownership, “Radio works because it crosses over socio-economic barriers, across education, employment, gender and age, and is open to innovation and creativity that allows broadcasts in Native languages and encourages citizen engagement.  It is a platform for a conversation, a sharing of ideas and concepts, discussion, debate, and dissemination of diverse ideas that can range from local tribal political issues, to high school sports to debates about environmental degradation or discussion about border-town racism.” 4


The most widely read newspaper in the Native American community is Indian Country Today.

The paper is a weekly published  by Four Directions Media of the Oneida Nation. It is distributed nationally and is also available by subscription online with live streaming audio and podcasts.5

In 2008, Indian Country Today reported an average weekly circulation of 13,000, unchanged from the year before, Sabrina Sharkey, the paper’s audience development manager, told PEJ.6 The paper’s circulation figures are not audited by an outside agency.

Heading into 2009, the paper’s executives were optimistic it would weather the recession. Heather Donovan, the paper’s sales manager, said that, as of October, ads sales had not declined significantly from 2007. This was due, she told PEJ, to a diligent effort to “replace old business that has left with new business.” 7

As the economy worsens and larger national advertisers scale back, however, Donovan said the paper would have to work to replace the revenue. She used the example of the 2007 closing of Greenpoint Bank, one of Indian Country Today’s biggest ad spenders, and said the paper had found ways to recover and at least hold ad revenues steady in 2008.8

Native Americans do not own any commercial television stations in the U.S. and have had a hard time making inroads into the field,9 but they took a big step forward in 2008 with the creation of a cable channel.

In March, the Tulalip Tribe in Western Washington became the first Indian tribe with its own cable channel. The channel provides programming to subscribers to Tulalip Broadband, the tribe’s Internet and cable provider, as well as to a local cable station, KANU-TV 99.10 The station’s programming is also available as a live webstream to broadband subscribers anywhere.

According to the station’s website, KANU-TV’s programming “includes news and information directed to Tulalip tribal members and their families.  In addition, there are other programs of general interest to all Native Americans.”11

Native American radio appeared to be on the brink of growth. The number of tribes that had new license applications pending before the Federal Communications Commission saw a big increase.

In the largest campaign to increase Native American media ownership, Native Public Media began an effort in 2008 to more than double Native American communications. Thirty-eight tribes and organizations filed a total of 51 license applications with the FCC in 2007. At the end of 2008, 29 of those applications had been granted construction permits for new radio stations, according to Loris Ann Taylor, the group’s executive director. The rest, Taylor told PEJ, remain in situations where more than one applicant is competing for the same frequency. Typically, it can take months to negotiate and settle.12

The 29 additional radio stations would bring the number of serving the Native American population from 33 in 2007 to 62. Still, With 562 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages in the U.S., Native American ownership of radio stations is currently less than 0.3% of the more than 13,000 radio stations in the country.13

"It is important to make sure Native Americans don’t just have access to media facilities, but have controlling interests in those facilities,” Taylor said. “When Natives tell their story, it is truthful and accurate and told through the voice of the Native American experience. It shows how having control of the ‘pen’ validates your own history and identity,” Taylor said.14

There was concern, nonetheless, about the financial stability of these stations. Many Native American broadcast stations receive a large portion of their funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Telecommunications Information Administration, both which rely on congressional appropriations. It was feared that those funds would be affected by budget cuts.


The Internet is a more complicated medium for Native Americans. The number of online outlets grew in 2008, but that did not translate into significantly greater usage among a population that has low rates of access to the Internet.

According to Taylor, only 69% of households on tribal lands have a telephone.15

Online news sources targeting the Native American nevertheless are increasing. is a project of the University of Montana School of Journalism and receives much of its funding from the Knight Foundation., an online news service, provides news articles, blogs and multimedia on current events throughout the Native American community. is another online news service that provides original reporting as well as summaries of other news media. is owned by Ho-Chunk of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Noble Savage media, a Native American-owned media firm.16


Native American media also received a boost in 2008 because of the significance to the Native American population of the nomination and election of the country’s first African American president.

Not only did Native American media cover the story more heavily than other elections, but the native population also received more attention from the candidates and their surrogates than in past elections. During the 65th Annual Convention of the National Congress of American Indians in October, for instance, both Barack Obama and John McCain addressed the general assembly session of the conference by video and laid out their platform regarding Native American affairs.17 

Native Public Telecommunications, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the expansion of Native American media, teamed up with National Native News to defray some of the expenses for Indian Country Today to provide coverage tailored to the native community.18 Native Public Telecommunications receives the bulk of its funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and National Native News is a daily radio program distributed by Native Voice One, a satellite distribution system that delivers Native American programming nationwide and is owned and operated by the Koahnic Broadcast Corporation in Anchorage, Alaska.

Indian Country Today, the most popular Native American Newspaper, sent reporters to Colorado to cover the Democratic National Convention in August. On Election Day, the paper’s online site offered coverage updated throughout the day from correspondents in states with large Native American populations: Colorado, Florida, Montana,  Alaska and Oklahoma. Online the AIROS Network, an Internet radio service of Native Public Telecommunications and Native American-owned radio stations, provided news coverage from the native perspective before and throughout Election Day.

“This election symbolizes that a person of color can run for president,” said Loris Ann Taylor of Native Public Media. “For us, it isn’t such a huge leap for a Native American to be able to run for president now.” 19

Arab-American Media


Arab American media grew in 2008, reflecting the rapid growth in the population.

The number of newspapers increased and a new Arab American writers syndicate was organized.

In broadcast, Chicago got a new Arab American morning radio talk show host. There was mixed news, however, for Al Jazeera English.


According to the Census Bureau, there were 1.2 million Arab Americans in the U.S. in 2000, the latest year for which data are available on the group.20 In the past however, these numbers have been called into question. When the Census released its first report on Arab Americans in 2003, some Arab American groups complained that the Census missed about 2 million people of Arab ancestry. The Arab American Institute estimates the population at 3.5 million.21

Regardless of the exact figure, the Arab population has experienced substantial growth. Between 1990 and 2000, the Arab-American population grew 38%, according to Census estimates. That is faster than the 13% the overall U.S. population grew during the same time.22  About half of the Arab American population is concentrated in five states: California, New York, Michigan, Florida and New Jersey.23

The most recent median annual income estimates for Arab Americans are from the 2000 census. In that year, the census reported Arab American households having a median income of $47,000, above the $42,000 median for all households in the U.S. that same year.24

Arab American print media reflected that growth in 2008.

 The number of Arab American newspapers increased to 85 in 2008 from 77 in 2007, a 10% increase, according to Ray Hanania of the National Arab American Journalism Association and a radio talk show host in Chicago.25

Membership to the association, which was founded in 1999, experienced a jump in 2008 to 263 from 178 in 2007, a 48% increase. 26

In September, the National Arab American Journalists Association  the Arab Writers Group Syndicate. The group was formed by Hanania and other prominent Arab-American journalists, including Ali Alarabi, Anisa Mehdi, Sherif Hedayat and Saffiys Shillo. According to its website, the syndicate aims to “feature daily commentaries and op-eds targeting mainstream American newspapers and publications.” 27

The National Arab American Journalists Association also held a conference for Israeli and Palestinian journalists in Jerusalem in 2008, the second year the group has done so. It also joined with the Society of Professional Journalists to create an Arab Journalism section.28

The Arab American News, a paper published in Dearborn, Michigan, calls itself the “largest, oldest and most respected Arab American newspaper in the United States.” It is owned by Osama Siblani, who started the paper in 1984.29 The free paper reports an unaudited circulation of 30,000 in the Detroit area. The paper offers articles in English and Arabic and has contracts with Reuters and the Christian Science Monitor for wire news.

Aramica, one of the largest Arab-American newspapers on the East Coast, was started in 2002. It is a bilingual paper in English and Arabic published in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is distributed mainly in churches and mosques. The paper reported a nationwide circulation of 50,000. The majority of its copies are distributed in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, but the paper is also distributed in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Ohio.30

Al Jazeera English

Al-Jazeera English is based in Qatar. The network, an American version of the Arabic cable channel broadcast in the Middle East, continued to have a difficult time in 2008 finding cable companies to carry it in the U.S. It also lost its most prominent American journalist when former Nightline correspondent Dave Marash resigned, saying he found an anti-American bias at the network. Al Jazeera’s Washington bureau chief Will Stebbins denied the station had such a bias.  Al Jazeera, he told the New York Times, “seeks to evaluate United States policy rigorously but ‘give everyone a fair shout.’”31

At the end of 2008, Al Jazeera English was available in three cable markets -- through Buckeye Cable in Toledo, Ohio; Burlington Cable in Burlington, Vermont, and Washington Cable in the District of Columbia.32 It is also available in the U.S. on digital satellite on GlobeCast World TV.

The channel launched worldwide in 2006 with a potential reach to 80 million households, according to its new managing director, Tony Burman, formerly of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Within the first three years of operation, the channel grew to be available in 130 million households in 100 countries, Burman said in an interview with a newspaper in Qatar.33

Burman himself was new. He took over the position in May and offered seemingly contradictory messages about the future. In one interview, he indicated plans to make the English-language outlet closer to its Arabic parent. “We are working to take advantage of the close relationship between Al Jazeera English and Arabic,” Burman told the same newspaper. “It is very important for both channels to enrich each other.”

In an earlier statement, Burman also said he would make efforts to make the channel appeal more to American audiences. “The reality is that Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English are two different channels that cater to different audiences,” he told the International Herald Tribune in an interview that also appeared in The New York Times.34

The network earned its first international Emmy nomination in current affairs and news categories.35 The nomination came from the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for Al Jazeera’s coverage of the crisis in Myanmar and the Red Mosque siege in Pakistan. On its website, Al Jazeera English also began to offer mobile news alerts to cellphone users.

Competition with Al Arabiya

Al Jazeera was dealt a blow early in 2009 when one of its competitors, Al Arabiya,  was chosen by President Barack Obama as not only the first Arabic-language news network to be granted an interview by him, but as the first television network granted an interview by Obama as president.36

The move was seen by many as an effort by the new president to reconcile America’s relationship with the Islamic world, but it surprised journalists across the world.
“It’s different from what we’ve seen in forever,” said Jamil Mroue, a Lebanese journalist and publisher. “This is his first official interview, and it’s addressed to Al Arabiya? It’s a logical extension of his inauguration speech, but it’s unprecedented.”37

Al Arabiya is a 24-hour satellite news channel based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, owned by Middle East Broadcasting Corporation, a Saudi media firm.38

Talk Radio

As with many ethnic media, radio also is an important element in Arab American communication.

There are no exact numbers on how many radio programs are aimed at the Arab American population in the U.S., but the National Arab American Journalism Association put the number at 12 toward the middle of 2008.39

But Arab American-targeted radio was not the only place the voices of Arab-Americans were being heard.

Radio station WJJG AM 1530 in Chicago got a new, Arab American voice on its morning show. He is Ray Hanania, a journalist, who now has a talk show Mornings with Ray Hanania. Although the show was not targeted specifically at an Arab-American audience, Hanania said it would discuss community issues in the Chicago area and also highlight Arab-American and Middle Eastern issues.

 “I am a big believer in community news, community newspapers and community reporting and one important aspect of the show will be inclusion of community perspectives and news in our discussion,” Hanania said.40


1.U.S. Census Demographic and Housing Estimates 2007.

Statement excludes those reporting to be American Indian/Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races.

2. Cherokee Phoenix. “Census Bureau: Native Population Increases, June 2008.

3. U.S. Census, “Income, Earnings and Poverty.”

Statement excludes those reporting to be American Indian/Alaska Native in combination with one or more other races.

4. Phone interview with Loris Ann Taylor, executive director, Native Public Media.

5. Indian Country Today Online.

6. Phone interview with Sabrina Sharkey, audience development manager, Indian Country Today, November 2008

7. Phone interview with Heather Donovan, sales manager, Indian Country Today, October 2008

8. Phone interview with Heather Donovan, sales manager, Indian Country Today, October 2008

9. Phone interview with Loris Ann Taylor, executive director, Native Public Media, November 2008

10. Cher Thomas, “Tulalip Tribe TV Station Hits the Airwaves,” Native Youth Magazine, March 4, 2008.

11. KANU-TV Online.

12. Interview with Loris Ann Taylor, executive director, Native Public Media, November 2008

13. Interview with Loris Ann Taylor, executive director, Native Public Media, November 2008

14. Interview with Loris Ann Taylor, executive director, Native Public Media, November 2008

15. Loris Ann Taylor, citing Government Accountability Office Report “Challenges to Assessing and Improving Telecommunications for Native Americans on Tribal Lands,”GAO-06-189 (January 2006) (“GAO Tribal Telecommunications Report”)


17. Press Release, National Congress of American Indians, October 21, 2008.[tt_news]=546&tx_ttnews[backPid]=9&cHash=29968d3d88

18. Native American Public Telecommunications Online. "Diversity Beat: The Election in Indian Country." November 5, 2008.

19. Phone interview with Loris Ann Taylor, executive director. Native Public Media, November 2008

20. Haya El Nasser,  “U.S. Census Reports on Arab-Americans for First Time,” November 20, 2003.

21. Arab American Institute Online.

22. Haya El Nasser,” “U.S. Census Reports on Arab-Americans for First Time,” November 20, 2003.

23. Haya El Nasser,” “U.S. Census Reports on Arab-Americans for First Time,” November 20, 2003.

24. Arab American Institute.

25.E-mail interview with Ray Hanania

26.E-mail interview with Ray Hanania

27.Arab American Media Services, News Wire, “New Arab American Writers Syndicate Launched,”  September 4, 2008.

28. E-mail interview with Ray Hanania

29.Arab American News Online.

30. Aramica Newspaper online.

31. Brian Stelter. “American Anchor Quits Al Jazeera English Channel.” March 28, 2008.

32. Al Jazeera English online.

33. Lubna Shaalan, “Al Jazeera Moving Away from Launch Phase,” Peninsula, November 16, 2008.

34. Eric Pfanner, “Al Jazeera English Tries to Extend Its Reach,” New York Times, May 19, 2008.

35. Broadcasting & Cable, “Al Jazeera Nabs First News Emmy Nod,” August 14, 2008.

36. Scott MacLeod, “How Al Arabiya Got the Obama Interview,” Time Magazine. January 28, 2009.,8599,1874379,00.html?imw=Y

37. Alan Cowell, “On Arab TV Network, Obama Urges Dialogue,” New York Times, January 27, 2009.

38. Robert F. Worth, “Drawing a New Map for Journalism in the Middle East,” New York Times, January 5, 2008.

39. Ray Hanania, Arab American Media Services Newswire.

40. Ray Hanania,Arab American Media Services Newswire.