How to Attract More Diverse Audiences(Cómo Atraer Más Diversas Audiencias)

Last Updated Jul 22, 2009 6:00 PM EDT

An ongoing business issue for most media companies is how to better connect with the diverse audiences that make up today's U.S. media markets. Hispanics, for example. A new report by Josh Chasin, Chief Research Officer of ComScore, Inc., outlines this market opportunity succinctly:
  • The online U.S. Hispanic market is bi-lingual.
  • U.S. online Hispanics are heavier Internet users than the general population.
  • Online Hispanics are younger than the general market.
Yet, this deeply engaged group of users has been traditionally underserved by traditional media outlets, including mainstream daily metro newspapers. Thus, a vibrant minority press has emerged over recent decades, although many of these outlets are now suffering badly during the current recession.

So much so that a group of minority broadcasters, stating they are "close to extinction," recently urged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to provide financial aid to help keep them in business.

In this context, Stanford Journalism Professor Ted Glasser has co-authored (with Isabel Awad and John W. Kim) a new study entitled "Diversity of Journalism for a Multicultural Society," ("Diversidad de Periodismo para una Sociedad Multicultural") that provides news insights into ways media companies can reach more diverse audiences.

In an interview with Andrew Lam of New American Media -- a nationwide association of 700 ethnic media organizations and an excellent source of minority news -- Glasser explains what attaining "diversity across newsrooms" -- as opposed to simply within newsrooms -- involves.

"Diversity across newsrooms...responds to the need of culturally diverse societies for genuinely alternative forms of news," he stated. "Diversity across newsrooms promises more than a heightened sensitivity to cultural differences. It broadens the base of journalism by putting new, more, and different people in control of it. (It) strengthens the role of minority media in their struggle to achieve the social justice and political parity that self-governance demands."

Glasser went on to note that, "What's missing in American journalism is a tradition of cooperation and collaboration between and among newsrooms. There's very little in the way of "linkages" between mainstream and minority journalism. With very few exceptions, mainstream news media do a miserable job of amplifying the voices of minority news media, which leaves minority interests and perspectives at the margins of society. It's difficult to overcome an institutional ethos that celebrates autonomy and competition, which by implication denigrates partnerships and other efforts to work together to achieve common goals."

Glasser advocates that traditional media operations break out of these constraints and reach out to the minority media in their communities and partner to achieve the vision of diversity across newsrooms. This is sound business advice, at a time of shrinking budgets and staffs across the industry. Partnerships with ethnic media could help your company expand its market share, better serve diverse elements within your community, attract new local and regional advertisers, and establish a stronger base for profitability once financial conditons improve.

For a copy of the Stanford study, contact Ted Glasser: glasser@stanford.edu.
Some earlier Bnet coverage of minority issues in the media industry:
(Mar. 16) Racist Legacy Haunts Old Media: Just When They Need Help "Earlier today, I posted on a topic that, at first glance, is not very near nor dear to my heart: Celebrity Moms. To be brutally honest, I am not sure which celebrities are Moms and which aren't. Regardless, for those who managed to read a ways into that piece, my true interest did emerge: bilingual publishing..."

(Jan. 4) Management Speaks on AsianWeek's Closure Following is the letter sent to subscribers by the Fang brothers, owners of AsianWeek -- the largest English-language, Asian-American publication in the U.S. -- which ceased publishing its print version yesterday:

(Jan. 2) Asian Week Ceases Publication; Fires Staff The growing crisis engulfing the newspaper industry is moving well beyond the major dailies to the ethnic press.

(Note: Stanford Professor Ted Glasser and I worked together when I was a visiting professor at the university during the years 2002-05, and he remains a good friend.)

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.