Sunday, July 15, 2007

Spanish Speakers Overlooked in Los Angeles

The flagship of the Tribune Company, the Los Angeles Times, has experienced advertising declines in the double digits the past three months, from a year ago, yet the Times generates the largest profit for the Tribune Company.

I need look no further than down my street every morning and notice the absence of the Los Angeles Times on my neighbor’s driveways, to see people are simply not subscribing to our product as they once did in years gone by. When I questioned my next-door neighbor, Rueben, on why he stopped subscribing to the Times he said “Ed, my wife and I compared the Los Angeles Times to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and noticed many of the same stories in both papers. And my wife Gladys enjoys the inserted advertisements, which happen to be identical in both newspapers. We decided to drop the Times and keep the local paper for the news regarding our community, not the news about the Westside of Los Angeles”.

As the Tribune Company moves to cut costs at the end of this year, and share stories across their network of editorial staff from the different media companies they control, the Times will look more like the local community newspapers than a brand of newspaper with unique articles of their own.

The Internet is often blamed for the decline in newspaper readership, and advertising declines, which is true to a certain degree. But one fact cannot be ignored; the demographics of Los Angeles are changing rapidly, from an English-speaking metropolis to Spanish speaking.

Why the Latino market is not even considered by media companies puzzles me, especially in Los Angeles, with the Mexican border but just over one hundred miles to our South.

When I have suggested publishing a Spanish edition of the Los Angeles Times, I have been told the Spanish readers have Hoy to read or the costs would be too high to experiment with a new edition in Spanish.

Adding four or five Spanish only blogs to the online edition of the Los Angeles Times would not cost as much as publishing a hard copy newspaper in Spanish. Marketing and promoting Spanish only blogs would not be too expensive, if we used our own newspapers such as Hoy or KTLA television, which the Tribune owns, in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times needs to step outside the box and tap into the Spanish speaking community for additional revenue, in an ever changing environment.

1 comment:

Old OC said...

"the demographics of Los Angeles are changing rapidly, from an English-speaking metropolis to Spanish speaking"

The demographics are a little more complicated than that Ed and the change you talk about is nothing new to the folks that once ran the LA Times going all the way back to at least 1970. It would appear that the “Spanish speaking” metropolis, as you put it and others, don’t care for or feel the need for a “world class” newspaper that is on par with the likes of the NY Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. By their actions Tribune feels the same way! The “world class” LA Times of Otis Chandler never targeted the demographic that you referred to. Those subscribers that want what the LA Times was have moved on to the NY Times and Wall Street Journal with their “national” editions. Those people (and Tribune) that are only concerned with their small part of the world, a “local” newspaper works just as well an gives them all that they need and want! There are many good “local” newspapers in Southern California and the LA Times, given their current direction, will never be able to compete because Tribune will never invest the capital necessary to make it happen!