Originally published in LatinTRENDS Magazine
In case you haven’t heard, CNN Latino shut down just a year after its launch! NBCLatino.com closed its doors after sixteen months! What’s going on? What happened? Why? These are some of the questions many are asking…including myself.
CNN Latino (not CNN en Espanol) was a bold effort to continue CNN’s commitment to the U.S. Hispanic marketplace. The Spanish-language programming, which aired in Miami, Los Angeles, New York and other top Hispanic markets, ceased this month after failing to meet “business expectations,” according to a company spokesman.
NBC Latino, whose tagline read “The Voice of American Hispanics,” quietly closed its doors last month. NBC announced the sudden closure of the Latino-centric site last November. The large-scale site was often praised for offering Latino-focused news, providing access to larger audiences to Latino-themed information, and drawing massive amounts of Latino readers/viewers. The news platform offered informed coverage for bicultural Latinos, often addressed the positives of the community, reported the educational status of Latinos. Many in the Latino community objected to the decision, though there were no actions taken to push NBC to reconsider.
Adrian Carrasquillo, a former editor at nbclatino.com said in a recently published article on buzzfeed.com: “NBC Latino probably needed to be better appreciated and taken more seriously inside the building. One of those weaknesses is a failure, at times, to grasp what people care about on the internet, how we organize ourselves and our media now.”
“Having Latino journalists in the newsroom is not some bullshit exercise on a diversity checklist, but an acknowledgement that the newsroom should reflect the country, the people you are writing about, the audience”.
“It is, moreover, an obvious practical advantage: Every journalist brings his or her roots and experience to the job, and a newsroom can’t afford to be cut off culturally from a huge piece of American life in the 21st century. The missed opportunity at my old workplace bothers me most of all. There is no shortage of Latino media that misses the mark out there. Indeed, Latino media in the U.S. needs to revamp itself and understand what its audience is and what they care about”.
I have been operating this company for thirteen plus years now, and I can relate to Mr. Carrasquillo’s statements. The fact is that it is that running a successful and profitable media company is not a “walk in the park”. It is a very difficult endeavor, probably one of the most difficult businesses to develop into a profitable enterprise. And profitable it MUST be, as no business can survive without more money coming in then goes out. “However, it is achievable” with a great team and lots of work, but We have been doing it. you can see video of our 100th issue celebration a few years ago in video below and You can read a bit on our history (trials and tribulations) that I wrote in regards to our 100th issue of publishing this magazine:
“I believe the main reason with the two recent closures on CNN Latino (Spanish language TV) and NBC Latino (English Language website) and a lot of other corporate start-ups, is that the initial intent is wrong to begin with”. Most of these start-ups were / are launched for the purpose of gaining market share from these big conglomerates, another word’s “to make money”. That purpose does not work, to be profitable is something that has to be a very important part of your plan…it better be, just not the initial intent. I also hope that the suits at these companies are not of the belief that by just slapping the Latino name next to their logo gets them closer to a home run. It doesn’t! You have to run the bases first! If someone one wants to start a media company in the Hispanic market; you must first care about the community, and I do mean its people and their problems, dreams and aspirations. It has to be from that perspective. You have to fill a gap, search for a need and your intention must be integrated with integrity, it has to be real! You really have to care! (And when you do you are ready for war, you are prepared for that long journey and to overcome painful moments that will show up), because the community that you are serving will pick up whether you care or don’t.
As I mentioned before…it is business and therefore money and profitability are important for the sustainability and growth of the enterprise. My experience has thought me that when the initial intention is born from caring and seeking to fill a need in the community, the money will follow. It won’t happen quickly, the journey may be long, longer then the threshold of corporate patience perhaps, but market share comes and the money follows…and money is a beautiful thing, at least it can be. In the case of starting a media enterprise, it just can’t be your beginning and end game, especially in today’s world. You must care about your audience!!