At a time when print news publications are struggling to find their relevance amidst the popularity of free, online celebrity gossip stories and live, instant news coverage, El Vocero, a Spanish-language news publication based in Grand Rapids, is thriving. With a full office staff as well as multiple freelance journalists, it's printed once a week, the copies are free, and advertising sales earns enough revenue to keep it successful. When the recession hit in 2007-2009, Andres Abreu, the founding editor of El Vocero, wasn't able to sell enough ads, had to downsize to a smaller location, and sold his printing presses. But since then, he has been able to bounce back while other publications are still struggling.
A big reason for this success is the growing Hispanic population, particularly in Wyoming, MI, and readers are very loyal to the publication. Wyoming has about 57,000 hispanic residents, making it 43rd largest hispanic population in the country. Many Spanish-speaking immigrants did not learn English in school and can't read the mainstream news. They have no way to learn about current events or what's going on in the community unless someone translates for them. El Vocero keeps them in touch with Grand Rapids news and also prints stories relative to them, something mainstream news is failing to do. There's huge lack of representation for Latinos and Latino news stories in the media. A 2013 study showed only 1.8% of news producers were Latino and less than 1% of mainstream news coverage about Latino stories. The majority of that 1% were stories about crime.
While El Vocero's success is encouraging and certainly a very positive thing, let's hope the mainstream news can find success as well, while finding more ways to be inclusive and diverse.