Not Simply “Ethnic,” Community Media Plants Flag in Mainstream Discourse

Local community and ethnic media outlets play an indispensable function for growing minority communities. But they are often working just below the surface, struggling for sustainability and recognition. They continue to play a pivotal role in sustaining the fabric of democratic life in multicultural America. These outlets deliver information that is especially vital to multi-lingual limited English proficient and vulnerable populations. They cover community-specific stories and issues and counter misinformation spread on less understood platforms. 

Central takeaways from the Ethnic Media Impact report, a research study conducted by the Latino Media Collaborative in partnership with UC Riverside’s Center for Social Innovation, is that local media outlets in diverse communities are media in their own right and valuable assets that can be leveraged to support a diverse, equitable, and resilient communication infrastructure. The study surveyed over 100 ethnic media outlets and interviewed over 20 to understand and document the current landscape of ethnic media in California – the impact of the sector, the challenges it faces, particularly brought on by the pandemic but also generally as resource-strapped and under-recognized players, as well as the growth opportunities. 

According to the report, California’s more than 300 ethnic media outlets serve at least 38 racial, ethnic, and cultural communities – and this count underestimates the number of outlets by at least 20%, as new outlets constantly emerge with ongoing immigration, the state, and technological changes. Beyond a few big players such as Univision, most are small newsrooms – 65% have less than 5 full-time staff. These outlets are already significantly limited, with few cost-cutting measures available to survive the pandemic’s harsh impact, which wiped out more than half of the sector’s revenue. A number of them have not survived. 

While all newsrooms struggle with sustainability, ethnic media outlets, in particular, experience a resource gap – they are severely neglected and under-invested by advertisers, philanthropy, and government agencies. The survey of ethnic media outlets in California found that only 38% of outlets have had advertising from mainstream businesses and institutions. Less than half have had any advertising from government departments. In an industry where advertising revenue is still the lifeline, this shortfall can be devastating. 

Particularly against 2020’s historic election that affirmed the critical importance of turning out a diverse electorate, engaging with and investing in ethnic media unequivocally is an issue of equity.  We need to ensure all communities can participate equally in economic, social, and political life.

Media Contact
Company Name: Latino Media Collaborative
Contact Person: Armando Carmona
Email: Send Email
City: Los Angeles
State: CA
Country: United States
Website: https://socialinnovation.ucr.edu/state-community-ethnic-media-california-impact-resource-gaps-and-opportunities