February 24, 2004

Hola Hoy

The Tribune Co.'s Spanish-language tabloid Hoy will begin publishing Monday in Los Angeles -- the third leg of its strategy to compete in the nation's four largest Latino markets. It's already in New York, where it began as an offshoot of Newsday, and it expanded last year into Chicago. Look out, Miami!

The L.A. Times had a short story today, notable primarily for its lack of mention that the Times once held 50 percent interest in what will be Hoy's primary competitor, La Opinion.

The original Hoy was created by Louis Sito when he was an advertising executive at Newsday. I interviewed Sito a year ago for an American Journalism Review story. His passion for Hoy, and for a revival of newspapers, is infectious. I hope when he gets done conquering the country in Spanish he takes over a few English-language papers.

Here is Sito, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1961 at age 15, talking about how newspapers stood still while their markets moved on and what they can do to begin catching up:

“I have been in this industry for long, long time. I started at the Chicago Sun-Times as an apprentice printer in 1965. … I am in the Hispanic media for the last four and a half years. I am on a crusade on this thing. If you look at the general market properties (all across the country), something very interesting has happened. I am very critical of it. ... "

We were all, as an industry, asleep at the wheel. While we were trying to protect markets, while we were trying to protect our little niche publications, our customers changed dramatically and we have not adapted to the marketplace gracefully. ... "

"Look at most of the newspapers. They are boring, they are boring. What are we doing to attract new readers to a product that competes with the 24/7 coverage of news on the electronic media? We have to evolve into something that has more analysis, has more relevancy, has more educational punch to it, has more fun. It is obvious that the old formula hasn’t worked. It is obvious that the old formula is a recipe for disaster. If you look at our circulation levels across the industry, they go down every year. So we cannot be smug and say that because we have been here forever we are going to continue to be here forever. That is crazy. ...”

"We have to be more creative. We have to be more market savvy. We have to do more research into what the people who don’t read us expect or want from a publication. It doesn’t mean you have to pander. It means how do we create niche publications that attract large segments of our population that currently do not look at newspapers.”

Andale, Louis!

(Gracias to LA Observed for the heads up.)

 My previous posts on Hoy are here (partnering with Wall Street Journal), here (Tribune's rocky history with La Opinion), and here (how other companies like Belo and Knight Ridder are pursuing readers in Spanish).

Posted by Tim Porter at February 24, 2004 07:01 PM