MINNEAPOLIS (NNPA) - As mainstream media, especially small and large metropolitan daily newspapers, struggle to keep and attract audiences, ethnic media outlets have consistently increased its audience over the last four years, according to a New America Media (NAM) poll.
NAM, an organization that collaborates with over 2,500 ethnic media outlets nationwide, commissioned Bendixen & Associates to survey 1,329 Black, Latino and Asian adults between April 24 and May 11 of this year. The poll found that ethnic media: — newspapers, television and radio —have picked up eight million new readers, viewers and listeners since 2005 and now regularly reach 57 million people in the U.S.
A similar NAM study conducted in 2005 revealed that approximately 49 million Blacks, Latinos and Asians were reached on a regular basis by ethnic media that year.
"We didn't know at the time," admits NAM Executive Director Sandy Close, "that ethnic media has [been] increasingly viable and indispensable in almost every corner of the country." This year's poll, according to Close, shows "a dramatic increase of audience in ethnic media across the board."
The poll's findings are:
• A substantial percentage of Black, Latino and Asian households have cable or satellite service.
• The majority of Black adults (58 percent) say they regularly watch BET and other Black-oriented television channels.
• Two-thirds of Black adults (67 percent) say they listen to Black radio regularly.
• Black newspapers have shown the largest audience growth (42 percent) over the past four years.
• Over 10 percent of Blacks say they use Black newspapers as their primary news source, and 25 percent say they use them as a secondary source.
• Black-oriented websites have seen a 29 percent audience growth since 2005.
• An increase in penetration for Black publications was sparked by interest in Barack Obama's candidacy and presidency.
• Spanish-language television covers 86 percent of the country's Latinos.
• Many new Spanish-language newspapers have begun publishing in the last four years and now reach more than one-third of Latino adults.
• The penetration of Asian ethnic television has increased substantially since 2005.
"When [the] news industry is undergoing such turmoil [economically] and in such a deep state of panic and despair over the loss of audience, I did not expect to [see] a surge in audience in ethnic media," notes Close.
Speaking by telephone from San Francisco, Close continues that while mainstream media either ignored or fail to "enhance the complexities of the [ethnic] populations," ethnic media on the other hand "has an organic and intimate connection" with the audiences it serves, she adds.
Ethnic media has a "unique role," she believes. "It is embedded in its audience. It breathes the culture of its audience, a marked contrast to mainstream media," Close points out.
"We certainly see our audience is steadily increasing," says Urban Mass Media Group Executive Director Pete Rhodes. He sees the NAM poll as a very useful information tool for him. Rhodes operates RNB Cable Radio, Minority Business Television (MBTV) and Black Music America (BMA). He also helps other Black media in attracting more advertisers.
"This type of information can be used to [our] advantage, not only [for] the ethnic media ourselves in reaching out to get more advertising dollars, but also [it] will help the advertisers themselves understand the importance of the use of ethnic media," adds Rhodes.
An example of this is the 2010 U.S. Census, which according to Close, "is putting its money where its mouth is," and is using ethnic media with its advertising now more than ever before. "The people who are running the census are realizing that [ethnic media] is no longer some footnote to American journalism," she notes.
"If you are a small-business owner, and you are trying to get the word out about your small business [to] the minority community, what better way to do [this] than to use minority media," surmises KMOJ-FM sports reporter Sam Williams. "There is a whole lot of [local] advertising to be had."
Rhodes says that historically there is "a lack of understanding as well as [advertisers] doing the same old thing" in their media buying choices, especially in the Twin Cities. He, the MSR and other local media operations recently formed Community Outreach Media Organization (COMO), which according to Rhodes will use the poll results.
"Our community has to do a better job in promoting and marketing our community," Rhodes surmises.
This, concludes Close, is among the main reasons why NAM conducted this poll — to get the word out. "I do think the poll is an important validation in pitching advertising," she believes.