Latino Disconnect: Expanding Latino Media, Untapped Audiences, and Alternative Content

Several interesting news articles and research reports have come out in recent days and weeks about the "media." I dedicated much of my last blog post to the subject so I thought it appropriate to follow up. The crux of these reports point to the success of Spanish media platforms during the last year, most especially to television, where Univision's audience competed and even surpassed, at times, mainstream media viewership. The leading source of most of the articles is State of the Media's Annual Report, a comprehensive study report compiled by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Check out "Hispanic Media: Faring Better Than Mainstream Media" by Emily Guskin and Amy Mitchell of the "Project for Excellence in Journalism", to read about this more in-depth.

So, in my last blog I presented "disconnect," as a perceived view, of what for me has been mostly an implicit feeling that while the English mainstream media still is not delivering enough; our needed, important and influential platforms aren't either, and to our detriment.

I realize this is a loaded argument but my intention is not to nit pick flaws or disconnects without reason. On the contrary, in order to present alternatives and possibilities, I believe we must look at these disconnect -- so that we may connect the dots.

We have to face the day each morning with something to inspire us forward to a better tomorrow. One of the things I carry as inspiration is that I believe we can do a lot more for our own.
I found also relevant to this discussion, Jose Tillan's great blog post, The 'New Generation Latinos.' I felt connected to his insight because I'm part of the market and fit into the segment of the "New Generation Latino."

He writes, "Latinos are becoming a cultural force ...a bilingual and bi-cultural force that is. Among them are the New Generation Latinos (NGLs), a segment that fuses their Latin roots with their American way of life and experiences. This rapidly growing segment is made up of US Born and foreign-born Latinos with 15+ years on American soil and represent 75% of the 12-34 Hispanic population... But the question still remains 'How do we communicate with them?'"

On the one hand, there is a strong and demonstrably resilient mainstream Latino media market in both English and Spanish. And on the other, there is an audience, a large and influential audience within our Latin nation that is apparently untapped.

For the sake of argument, I will present the notion that perhaps this untapped audience that, "fuses their Latin roots with their American way of life and experiences," might be an alternative audience, at the very least a portion of it. This, I think, is an opportunity.

Mr. Tillan later follows with,

"NGLs want to have media and programming options that reflect the various aspects of their identity, regardless of language. In fact, NGLs are language neutral when it comes to communication preferences, but they do want to see themselves and their dual culture lifestyle in the U.S. more represented on television as well as in any media and marketing that targets them."

If then, language is not necessarily a barrier, and this could be contended positively, then it could be that a segment of our Latino audience population is being underserved by content. It could very well be that a large part of this untapped audience would welcome alternative Latino content if it was presented to them.

And by alternative Latino content I mean, not Hollywood versions of things but the product that is out there being created, produced and performed by US Born and foreign-born - living here and abroad - Latino trailblazer dramaturges, screenwriters, writers, filmmakers, musicians, painters, performers and academics that is not being necessarily properly exposed and presented by way of more daring editorial coverage or programming in our growing Latino media platforms.
One way to look at how our Latino market is so smart is to considering that by enlarge we have been forced to adopt two ways of perception. The best general example I can use is the music industry. In general terms, Latinos can appreciate U2 as much as Maná or Michael Buble as much as Luis Miguel, Shakira as much as Rihanna, or Kelly Clarkson as much as Julieta Venegas.
In Latin America and in the Caribbean we've been accustomed to listening to both sides of the music industry, the mainstream Anglo and our own Latin music. And our music industry is hands down a humongous power. In general terms Latinos here welcome the new voices coming to the mainland from the southern part of the Continent and I believe that reveals we possess a sophisticated habit of consumption.

Anglo, Ethnic and Alternative media platforms alike are being forced to explore alternate economic models in order to stay open for business, as the new media age ruthlessly and inevitably shifts. Perhaps then, the powers that propel our media stages might also look into how to present the alternative content that is not being serviced adequately.

And this I think is the heart of the matter, cultivation and exposure in a less segmented fashion, more pulsated and a bit more exploratory. The platforms and the audiences are out there.

I will follow this post with ideas and examples of what I consider alternative Latino content but I want to work towards a connected theme and not disconnected thoughts so that anyone at any point can follow and pick up right where I left off.

More to come.