Belo Launching Spanish Daily in Dallas

In the past 20 years, the number of Hispanics in the Dallas metropolitan area has grown 130%, to a population of 810,499 according to the 2000 Census. That means Dallas ranks as the tenth largest Latino metro in the United States. Although Hispanics account for 31% of the Metroplex’s population there is no Spanish daily newspaper. Belo aims to change that, when this fall it launches a Spanish-speaking sibling to its The Dallas Morning News.

The morning broadsheet does not yet have a name, but its mission is clear. Belo wants to not only tap into the Spanish-speaking readers that rarely pick up a copy of the Morning News, while at the same time expanding its advertising opportunities.

“Advertisers are thirsting for this,” says Gilbert Bailon, vice president and executive editor at The Dallas Morning News, who has been named president of the Spanish spin-off. “There is a substantial base of Spanish-speaking people who are here, and a number of whom aren’t reading the newspaper or buying advertising. We think now is the time to do something and not wait for somebody for somebody to step forward and do this.”



While the easiest course for Belo to go may be to simply create a translated edition of its existing paper, Bailon says they will instead develop an entirely new product targeted toward Hispanics. “We’re not creating a metro newspaper here. We’re creating more of a smaller daily, with a niche audience and niche advertisers. However, it’s a niche that is growing faster than any other population in the country. We see it as a high growth potential, but we’re not trying to recreate The Dallas Morning News.” The publication will feature mostly original content material along with content from Spanish-language wire services. Belo’s Mexico City bureau has expanded to five, and some of their work along with coverage from the Belo bureaus in Cuba and South America will be utilized.

Although it may seem a rather obvious place for a Spanish-language daily, Dallas presently has about a dozen weekly free newspapers distributed throughout its sprawling communities. Knight Ridder’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram distributes a twice-a-week Spanish supplement, La Estrella. For that reason, Bailon says Belo believes the market is ripe and will support a daily. “We’ve looked at the Spanish-language market from a lot of different ways, from potential partnerships to acquisitions. What we’ve found is we have as great a market sitting right here in our biggest market where we have our biggest media properties. We’re going to see if we can make it here, and we think we can on the scale that we’re approaching.”

With a modest circulation goal of 50,000 readers, Belo does not expect to cannibalize its existing readers away from the Morning News. “That could be a concern, but based on our research we’re finding that a majority of the Spanish speaking audience is not using The Dallas Morning News. We do have bilingual readers, but I don’t think they’re going to quit reading The Dallas Morning News to read this publication in huge numbers,” says Bailon.

With an existing newspaper, plus WFAA-TV and Texas Cable News, Belo’s resources in Dallas will help improve the odds of success. The offshoot will use many of the Dallas Morning News’ backroom infrastructure, including its circulation and distribution channels. It will also benefit from Belo’s open attitude on cross selling, which already allows newspaper, broadcast, cable and Internet sales people to sell any of the properties in their stable.

Bailon intends to begin pitching the paper to advertisers and agencies this spring. “They are trying to penetrate these large markets, particularly in the southwest, and this is a great vehicle for that. A daily is much more meaningful for them, because when you deliver more people, you also deliver more timely advertising than a weekly.” That’s not to say they won’t go after the small ad buyers that fill the freebies. “They have a lot of local advertising, and while we’d like to get some of that, it’s going to be hard for us. Initially, we’re going to go after national and regional dollars, because that is where our background is, and then we’ll build that local base.”

Whether buyers react as hoped remains to be seen. “We have some clients that this is a very important part of their customer base and it could be considered,” says Patsy Fain, group media director for the Dallas-based The Richards Group. Yet Fain says Belo will need to convince buyers like her why their daily is better than the cheaper weeklies that many advertisers are already using.

Another of Belo’s newspapers, The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., has also taken steps into Spanish media. It publishes a weekly called La Prensa. With a rapidly growing demographic, Bailon predicts other newspapers will follow in footsteps of the Morning News. “I think you are going to see more papers get into the weekly or twice weekly mode, some may go daily, but over the next five to ten years it is not going to be as uncommon as it is now.”

Next story loading loading..