By Joe Piaskowy
As a longtime leader in the world of Spanish-language media in the U.S., Julian Posada knew he had a problem when he was general manager of Tribune Co.’s Hoy.
Posada noticed a disconnect as he attended dozens of meetings weekly at Chicago’s only Spanish language daily newspaper, where he oversaw everything from financing to editorial operations.
Not one of those Hoy meetings was ever conducted in Spanish.
“When you run a Hispanic business, a daily Spanish-language newspaper, in English it starts begging the question – are there more people out there like my staff?” says Posada, 41, of his bilingual staff. “Where do they get their content? Are there gaps in that content?”
Inspired to reach an untapped audience, Posada left Tribune in 2008 to launch Café Media, a bimonthly Latino lifestyle publication that caters to young, acculturated Hispanics: a diverse, bilingual group that consumes most of its media in English while maintaining its Hispanic roots.
Posada is among a handful of young Latino entrepreneurs who are pioneering a new space in the media landscape and targeting a rapidly growing demographic: second- and third-generation Hispanics. Hispanics are the nation’s youngest and largest minority group, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Mainstream media outlets have struggled to reach young, acculturated Latinos. In the past they have framed the problem using what Posada calls “the either-or proposition”: Either they create Spanish-language products for Spanish-speaking Hispanics or assume that English-speaking Hispanics will be satisfied with the mainstream offerings.
Abraham Velazquez Tello, president and founder of Gozamos.com, an online Latino magazine, also saw this as a flawed approach. For Tello, it isn’t about segregating or assimilating.
“We want to be connected to the rest of the world and be connected to their media, but we also want to have content that reflects the nuances about what it means to be a young Latino in America,” says Abraham Velazquez Tello, president and founder of Gozamos.com.
“We want to be connected to the rest of the world and be connected to their media, but we also want to have content that reflects the nuances about what it means to be a young Latino in America,” says Tello, 25.
Young Latinos often have the advantage over their parents of being able to consume media in either Spanish or English, says Federico Subervi, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Media & Markets. But “they are not assimilated Americans, because at some level they value at least some aspect of their Latino heritage.”
Other media companies are taking notice of young bicultural Latinos and of the successes of companies like Café Media and Gozamos, says Tello, adding that this is a good thing.
“It isn’t about competition right now,” says Tello. “We need enough players in the space to legitimize the movement. Really, the more competition the better.”
About the companies featured in this piece:
Café Media – Julian Posada founded Café Media in the fall of 2008, just as the recession was taking hold. Since then the regional bimonthly Latino lifestyle publication has grown beyond Chicago and now has a digital presence, through its e-newsletter, in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco
Gozamos – Abraham Velazquez Tello, a Chicago-based web designer, founded Gozamos in 2010. Gozamos is a Latino-focused online magazine that strives to be the “definitive guide to living as a young, culturally savvy Latino in Chicago,” says Tello.
Radio Arte – Since 1997 Radio Arte has been training Latinos who are 15 to 21 in bilingual media production and journalism. The station (WRTE 90.5 FM), owned by the National Museum of Mexican Art, makes its home in Pilsen. The focus of its training program has been radio, but that is about to change. Arte is shifting its emphasis to its web presence in an effort to reach an audience beyond the borders of its 13-mile radio signal. Training program director Adriana Gallardo says, “we’re in the process of transitioning to a media center… we are going to focus more of our energy on web-based media production.”
Pew Hispanic Center
Pew Report: Between two Worlds: How young Latinos come of Age in America
Latinos and Media Project
IAB Report – U.S. Latinos Online: a driving force
The Latino digital divide