What Ethnic Media Can Teach Us About the Future of News

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Ethnic media saw their audience grow by 16% between 2005 and 2009, according to a poll released earlier this year by New America Media, an association representing thousands of ethnic news organizations. A subsequent piece in Global Journalist (PDF) quotes Garry Pierre Pierre, a former New York Times reporter who now runs the Haitian Times in New York City: “We are not in the same predicament as the New York Times or Boston Globe because we never had what they had.”

Over at the Online Journalism Review, Sandra Ordonez writes about ethnic media’s four-step model for the news industry’s future. It’s a refreshing recognition that the future of news is a conversation that ought to reach (and reach out to) all corners of the media landscape, rather than fixate on mainstream media and its boosters–a conspicuously homogenous bunch.

Here is the outline of the four-step model:

1. Forget the numbers. Who is your audience?
Historically, ethnic newspapers have been less concerned with numbers than thoroughly reaching a specific audience, whether it be a Colombian community in Queens, or a growing Asian population in Central Florida. They have been successful in becoming both liaisons and voices for their targeted population, so much so that they are regularly targeted by both national and international entities seeking to interact with their specific community.       

2. Become the nexus of your community
It is not uncommon to see newspaper representatives establishing strong relationships with a gamut of local business owners and community leaders, while at the same time serving as ‘networking’ facilitators and community knowledge purveyors.

3. Understand your community’s interest
Journalists and editors actively interact with their community and find out what stories are ‘in demand.’ Additionally, there seems to be more flexibility in regard to format and types of content that are published. Most importantly, however, they provide opportunities for citizens from different socioeconomic strata to voice their opinions and engage the community.            

4. Think local
While ethnic newspapers may habitually publish news about their community’s homeland or region, most newspapers focus solely on community news. They may not be as exciting or as sophisticated as newspapers such as the
New York Times, but this ensures that published news is extremely relevant to the majority of their readership. In other words, the main focus is the community itself.

Ordonez gets a bit deeper into each of these in her piece, including a discussion of why mainstream models should follow suit. Thoughts?

Sources: New America MediaNews21Global JournalistOnline Journalism Review

Image by wili hybrid, licensed under Creative Commons.

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