Latino media growing fast


Salvadoran immigrant Mario Duarte volunteered in the 1990 census. Burying the myth that Latinos don’t read, and concerned by the fact that the Spanish-speaking population didn’t have a voice, Duarte came up with the idea of La Prensa de Minnesota, a weekly newspaper that would keep the Latino community informed and connected in its own language. “La Prensa is many people’s voices, not just my voice,” says Duarte.

La Prensa, Minnesota’s first Spanish-language newspaper, celebrated its 15th year in print last July. In 1990, Minnesota Latinos numbered just 54,000. According to the Census Bureau, the Latino population in the year 2000 was 143,382 and it hasn’t stopped growing.

Currently, about a dozen Minnesota periodicals publish in Spanish. Vice Versa is one of the newest in the market, a glossy magazine that started in June 2004.

“We wanted to create a reading habit in the Latino community. Reading is information. And information is power. If people believe in this, we can grow and help the whole community grow,” explains Vice Versa editor and graphic designer Julio Valdez, who founded the magazine along with Miguel Ramos.

Vice Versa analyzes important political, economic, cultural and social issues, with the intention of helping readers form opinions. The glossy magazine was meant to stay at home and not go into the trash can. Its only problem: too expensive to print.

Every single minority publication in Minnesota is free to the readers. “I don’t know why all these publications are free. You have to pay for the big ones, but we are the ones that should be for sale, because we don’t have a big budget,” says Duarte, who also adds that, “it would be interesting to sell the issues of La Prensa some day so we can have another way of income.” Advertising provides the main income for Latino media.

“Unfortunately the clients are not ready for a magazine like Vice Versa,” says Valdez. “Compared to the other publications that are made with a less expensive paper, our advertisement costs are higher.” Because of this, Vice Versa has not been printed since December 2004, though Valdez published a special edition in November 2005, highlighting “The 25 on the Rise,” a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce project that will name the 25 most influential Latino people in Minnesota. After that, Vice Versa will be issued every three months instead of monthly.

If businesses are not willing to pay more money to advertise in a magazine, would they pay for television time? Univision, the biggest Spanish-language television station in the United States, based in California, began broadcasting in the Twin Cities February 1 on channel 13.

“Currently we are knowing the community, producing and broadcasting local commercials aimed at the Hispanic community. We are working with nonprofit organizations and state offices to promote events and information,” says Yudith Robles, operations manager of Univision. They plan to broadcast a local Spanish news program some day.

Spanish-language radio stations air on AM and FM channels. Radio Rey (630 AM), which has broadcast for 25 years, has been joined by La Nueva Ley (740 AM) and La Que Buena (107.5 FM). La XX broadcast for three months last year, before ending its run. Dozens of Spanish-language programs air on other radio stations across the state.

Mercedes Koski is a journalist with long experience in marketing. She has worked for La Prensa de Minnesota and Radio Rey and sees a difference between Latino and Anglo clients. “It is hard to get business. First of all, you don’t have to say the word ‘sell,’ but ‘advise.’ You have to use psychology when you deal with the Latino community, and make them understand that advertising is a good investment for their business that will help it grow,” she says.

Spanish-language media in Minnesota are still young compared to states like California or Florida, where the Latino community is older, mostly educated and bigger. And, Mario Duarte says, “we still have a lot more to do and improve.”

Eva Palma is a local journalist who has written for La Prensa de Minnesota, Vice Versa and the Connection to the Americas.

Spanish-Language Media in Minnesota

• El Periódico 1518 East Lake Street, Suite 207 Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 728-1686
• Gente de Minnesota 2019 East Lake Street, Suite 7 Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 243-1283
• Hispanic Pages 1518 East Lake Street, Suite 207 Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 728-1686
• La Opinión de Minnesota 105 NW 3rd Street Montgomery, MN 56069 (507) 364-5845
• La Prensa De Minnesota 3000 North 2nd Street Minneapolis, MN 55411 (612) 312-1760
• La Voz Latina 1643 S. Robert Street, 60B West St. Paul, MN 55118 (651) 457-1177
• Latino Midwest News 4180 West Broadway, Suite 2A Robbinsdale, MN 55422 (763) 535-3373
• Lazos Hispanos 4 East 27th Street Minneapolis, MN 55408 (612) 871-9499
• Vida y Sabor 1516 East Lake Street, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55407 (612) 729-5900
• Vice Versa magazine (restart in November 2005) 925 Payne Ave. Suite 205 Saint Paul, MN 55101 (651) 774-2756