From legacy to innovation
Spanish-language media in a world gone digital
Early on the first morning of the NABJ-NAHJ joint convention, a steady stream of aspiring and seasoned journalists flowed into the sold-out social media workshop.
The news and content producers, especially those employed by Spanish-language organizations, were looking to hone their skills and increase their professional footprint. In an age of rapid technological advancement, journalism has had to reinvent itself and so have its workers.
“Think of Twitter as a public notebook,” panelist Gene Park, a Washington Post journalist, said.
In the past, a newspaper journalist would cover an event, and go back to the newsroom and write a story. With the internet, particularly social media, readers expect to watch stories unfold as they break and don’t want to wait on a final version. Spanish-language organizations are having to adjust to digital as well.
But how quickly are they doing so?
A study by the Media Insight Group reveals that Latinos are more likely than any other group to consume video content on their phone. However, the Pew Research Center still reports that 86 percent of Latinos say they regularly get their news from television, compared to 56 percent from radio and 42 percent from newspapers.
Hugo Balta, senior director of multicultural content at ESPN and former vice president and news director of Telemundo New York, said Spanish-language organizations tend to lack the resources that English-language media companies have. Balta, who also was a former NAHJ president, added that Spanish-language organizations have smaller budgets that limit how assertive they can be when it comes to digital.
“Often what I see in Spanish-language media in regards to digital formatting is that it’s being used as a ‘for more information’ platform,” he said. “For example, there may be a story on video that airs on television and is then posted online. The studies tell us that people are not going to the digital platform for more information. They are actually going for information, period.
“There is an expectation from the audience that in those 30 seconds you are going to provide me (the consumer) with a complete story,” Balta added.
While the Latino news media landscape has long been dominated by Spanish television, the Pew Research Center reports that a number of English-speaking news outlets focusing on the Latino community have launched in recent years.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time with a 2013 Pew study showing half of all Latino adults saying they get their news in both languages. The survey also revealed that more than 33 million Latinos in the United States are fluent in English, making 68 percent of that population bilingual.
Balta said he sees Univision’s partnership with the digital network Fusion as a promising move towards the future. Univision and other major networks have started investing in digital companies — proving that they see opportunity for growth in a bilingual marketplace.