Thompson: City Ignores Ethnic, Community Media

In a media release, Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson faulted the Bloomberg administration for ignoring the city's community and ethnic media, an important information source for millions of New Yorkers.

By one estimate, nearly 55% of New Yorkers rely on community and ethnic newspapers.

Instead of "going where the voters are", the city is doing the opposite, Thompson said. According to a report by the CUNY School of Journalism Center for Community and Ethnic Media, the city has systematically ignored community media, directing multi-million dollar ad buys to the New York Times, the New York Post and other mainstream outlets.

According to the CUNY report, the city spends about $18 million in taxpayer dollars on advertising, mostly public service announcements and job postings, of which only 18% goes to community and ethnic newspapers. The "big newspapers" get 82%.

This policy doesn’t just shortchange local media, Thompson said, it cuts off access to important government information.

Multi-lingual people living in immigrant communities that rely solely on native-language media, Thompson said, are hardest hit by this policy. The Spanish-language press, for example, gets less than 4% of the city's advertising dollars, despite the fact that the city's population is nearly 30% Latino.

The same goes for native speakers of Russian, Mandarin, Hindi and dozens of other languages, as well as the city's Afro-American and Afro-Carribean communities.

As Mayor, Thompson said, he would, as the CUNY report suggests, make all city agencies include minority and community newspapers in their ad buys.  He would also bring publishers and editors of community and ethnic media to City Hall twice a year for a conclave, and make sure that agency commissioners do the same.

Thompson, the grandson of Caribbean immigrants,  said he'd seen first-hand the importance of ethnic media in New Yorkers’ lives:  as a primary source of news and information and as a link between the past, present and future of the community.

Ethnic and community newspapers, because of the purpose they serve, Thompson said, should get their fair share of the city's advertising dollars.

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