Philadelphia Media is Embracing the Spanish Speaking Market
Philadelphia’s Hispanic population has grown considerably since the last census - from constituting 12.3 percent of the city in 2010 to an estimated 14.1 percent today. That is approximately 225,000 people – a large portion of whom speak Spanish as their primary language. In addition, over 62 percent of English-speaking Hispanics in the United States are bilingual, according to the Pew Research Center.
Two prominent local news outlets have taken necessary steps to reach the city’s Spanish-speaking population. Last month, the Philadelphia Inquirer launched El Inquirer - a web platform featuring Hispanic beat news translated into Spanish. Last year, Telemundo62 moved into a new studio that is just as well-resourced as that of its English language partner, NBC10. These changes build upon existing Hispanic news sources on TV, in print, on the web, and over the radio.
Less than two years ago, Jesenia De Moya Correa began with The Philadelphia Inquirer as a Lenfest Fellow and commenced a six month listening tour of the city’s Hispanic community. Correa met with community leaders, youth representatives, small business owners, and citizens in the Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican, Venezuelan and other Latino populations.
She found that these populations were being served by a robust but resource-limited group of outlets practicing community journalism. Some of these outlets published in both Spanish and English, and Correa discovered consistent interest in having The Inquirer add bilingual community journalism to its brand of reporting. There began the vision of offering Spanish language content on Inquirer.com.
Six months ago, Correa began translating all of the articles in the Hispanic beat into Spanish. In September, she and her colleagues launched El Inquirer as a platform exclusively for Spanish language content.
The vision is for El Inquirer to serve as a hybrid between the source of vibrant community journalism that Philly’s Spanish speakers know well on the one hand, and traditional, mainstream journalism on the other. Correa strives to offer a new source of reporting that connects Hispanics with their larger identity as Philadelphians through what she terms a “bottom up” perspective. Correa says that readers want to read of the specific struggles and joys of their community in their own native language. El Inquirer aims to connect those stories to the reader’s identity as a Philadelphian.
Stories of interest to El Inquirer include anything highlighting the community in a positive light, particularly relating to identity, art, and community gatherings. There is an interest in jobs and economic issues, for, as Correa states, “Latinos are mainstream.” Correa also seeks stories that relate to the diversity of the Hispanic community itself - as the group is not a monolith. Other than that, El Inquirer covers issues of day to day concern to readers – including relating to educational inequality, the threat of deportation, and crime.
The platform may offer more in the future, potentially translating additional content from The Inquirer’s general coverage into Spanish.
This is a dynamic time at Telemundo62. The station is finally settling into its state-of-the-art new studio with additional monitors and increased space at the Comcast and Technology Center in Center City. The station has expanded its hours and added shows. Its day begins at 6am with Primera Edición, goes live at noon with Al Mediodía, features an early evening newscast, and finishes the day at 11 pm with Noticiero.
The station just launched the new show Enfoque, a political and public affairs program airing each Sunday at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. The station’s Consumer Unit, Responde, added a new investigator, Yaima Crespo. Telemundo62 envisions additional adaptations to better serve the Greater Philadelphia region.
The Telemundo62 audience is growing along with the Hispanic population of the city at large. Where the station remains popular with Mexican and Puerto Rican communities, greater numbers of viewers in the Central American and Dominican communities are increasingly tuning in. Viewers tend to be interested in stories that have a direct impact upon their lives, including in the areas of “housing, transportation, safety, immigration, consumer protection, weather, and breaking news,” according to assistant news director Ana Hernández.
Telemundo62 emphasizes the importance of the cultural aspect of their work. Each day they ask themselves, “What’s important for our people today? How can we help?” Since Philadelphia's Hispanic community is highly diverse, “Telemundo62 has a diverse newsroom that shares the perspectives and challenges its viewers face,” says Hernández.
The station won six local Emmys this year for continuing coverage, feature news reports, arts program/special, health news single story, weather single story, and magazine program/special.
Broader Media Landscape
Changes at El Inquirer and Telemundo62 strengthen an already robust Hispanic media environment in Philadelphia.
One of Philadelphia’s Spanish papers, Al Día features stories written by members of the Hispanic community and aims to educate local businesses. Al Día has a circulation around 50,000. The weekly newspaper El Impacto serves North Philadelphia readers. El Impacto’s audience consists of readers of the Puerto Rico and the Dominican communities, among others. A third Spanish paper, El Sol, has been in print for nearly 25 years.
El Zol Media features radio, podcasting and soccer matches. The Philatinos radio station has a largely Mexican American audience. Usala radio features two daily Spanish news shows. The TV station Univision is popular among the Dominican, Mexican, and Puerto Rican communities.
Dos Puntos internet radio, from veteran Colombian-American journalist Emma Restrepo, live streams interviews with guests from a cross-section of Hispanic communities. Even niche news sites like Technical.ly and Generocity.org have started producing some Spanish-language and bilingual content.
Recent growth in Philadelphia’s Spanish media environment was not inevitable. Prominent national news outlets including the New York Times, BuzzFeed, and the Huffington Post discontinued their Spanish reporting platforms. Instead of following this trend, El Inquirer and Telemundo62 made it their mission to reach the Hispanic community as it grows. In this way, these outlets will, as Correa says, “gain trust in the communities” which were once underestimated and undervalued in this city.
David Huppert is an Associate in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia Office.