After Almost a Century, El Diario’s Days May be Numbered

Angelo Falcón is President of the National Institute for Latino Policy. (Photo via NiLP)

El Diario La Prensa’s recent change in ownership has raised fears that the almost century-old Spanish-language daily’s future is uncertain, wrote Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, in a column that was widely re-posted over the last week: “The End of El Diario-La Prensa?

When earlier this year the Argentinian newspaper, La Nación, bought ImpreMedia, the publisher of El Diario-La Prensa, La Opinión and other US-based Spanish-language newspapers, they made assurances, like most buyers initially do, that not much would change. However, recent changes they have announced for their new properties seem to point to the real possibility that El Diario-La Prensa’ s days may be numbered. The city’s Latino community may have to speak up now if they want to see this historic paper (and now news site) to continue to operate.

With its famous motto, El Campeón de los Hispanos (“the Champion of the Hispanics”), El Diario will be marking its 100 anniversary next year, making it the largest and oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in New York City (and the oldest in the United States). However, all of that history may soon itself be history as a result of the increasingly pervasive process of media consolidation, this time under the control of a foreign corporation.

A dramatic drop in El Diario’s circulation numbers has fueled concerns, writes Falcón in his column, published both in English and Spanish.

From a peak circulation of 80,000 in the late 1980s, its latest paid circulation according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation, was just 38,325 as of March 31, 2012 (23,467 for its Sunday edition and 29,954 for its Saturday edition), down from 42,974 only a year earlier.

This is perplexing to many since it is published in the 2nd largest Latino media market in the country with 4.6 million Latinos, 56 percent of whom are Spanish-dominant. El Diario, however, estimates that, including paid and pass-on readers, it reaches 286,351 daily readers, which they say translates to 1 million readers a month of both its print and online editions. This means that El Diario estimates that its total readership is more than six times its paid readership, probably using a formula from a past sample survey or surveys they conducted.

La Nación is known as a politically conservative publication, wrote Falcón, but that’s not his main concern.

The takeover of El Diario and ImpreMedia by this politically conservative Argentinian newspaper raised eyebrows in light of El Diario‘s largely liberal political leanings. But now the question is not so much whether its political orientation will change but whether its new foreign owners will shut it down or allow it to fail. There has been much speculation about this even before the Argentinian takeover, but now this appears to be a more serious possibility.

El Diario-La Prensa has been an integral part of New York City’s Puerto Rican and now broader Latino community for close to a century. Journalists like Luisa Quintero, Manuel de Dios Unanue, Conrado Hernandez, Fernando Moreno, Evido de la Cruz, Gerson Borrero and others helped to define the Latino experience in this city and its editorials once had enough clout to affect the city and state’s political priorities.  But with the general decline of the newspaper industry, the competition from new media and an increasingly diverse Latino population, among other factors, it has been tough going for this important community institution.

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  1. Pingback: El Diario’s Publisher Steps Down | Voices of NY

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