Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HOY VAY: A WEDDING MADE IN THE CORPORATE BOARD ROOM


by Rafael Martínez Alequín

The same day that ImpreMedia and the Chicago based Tribune Company, announced the acquisition of the local Spanish newspaper Hoy to be part of Eldiario/La Prensa, 30 Hoy employees were laid-off. It looks like the same fate that was felt by the staff of La Prensa over 30-years ago.

Over thirty-years ago the owners of La Prensa were facing a struggle similar to the one Hoy is facing today. A struggle to cover the cost of publishing their paper in NYC. There is not enough advertising revenue for two competing newspapers within the Spanish-speaking community. This is one of the concerns of Hoy parent organization, the Tribune Company. Hoy, was a strong competitor to El Diario/La Prensa, until the revelation that Hoy as well as it's sister publication, Long Island Newsday, provided false data regarding their circulation.

El Diario, absorbed La Prensa, and slowly La Prensa disappeared as a publication. It only remains as a name on El Diario masthead, almost invisible. There is never anything wrong on any merge. Corporations see them as a way to increase the bottom line. Business is Business. The needs of the community they serve do not count.

It is akin to gentrification. Eminent domain is invoked. Property is brought and people are evicted. Badda bing, badda bang.
New York City is one of the largest Spanish speaking cities in this country. Unfortunately, as the population of Latinos grows here, and across the United States, non-Latinos own the Spanish press.

ImpreMedia, who now owns the newspapers serving the Latino community in the New York City metropolitan area (New Jersey Connecticut), is owned by a Canadian multi-media conglomerate. As long as non-Spanish business people own the Spanish communication media, there will be little empowerment for Latinos.

Let's be clear, we can’t blame the individuals chosen to be the managers for El Diario/LaPrensa. They are operating with limited resources. Therefore, they do not have the capital that the Anglo mainstream media has at their disposal. They have to depend on the wire services to cover stories dealing with the Latin American countries. But, there is no excuse, not to assign journalists to cover local stories.


There is no reporter as of now, assigned to cover events at City Hall. However, a source did inform Your Free Press that soon that a reporter would be assigned there. Whatever happens at both wings of New York’s City Hall is of immense importantance to our Latino community. A story written by a wire service reporter is picked up and translated into Spanish verbatim. A Latino covering the story would have more knowledge regarding the impact on the community.

In a telephone conversation, with Alex Gómez, spokesperson for ImperMedia, he states: "They will publish both newspapers, one free, (Hoy) and one paid subscription (El Diario/LaPrensa)." One has to be skeptical here. Impremedia has a history of "Buy up and throw out". If things do not work out, Hoy will merge with El Diario. And in the process, people will lose their jobs. Not because they are not capable. But because an Anglo conglomerate misunderstood it's product.
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