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Ethnic – Intro


By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

Largely as a result of the recession, the ethnic media saw a mixed 2008.

There were stories of revenue losses, business closings and reorganizations, and also many examples of the ethnic media continuing to fare much better than the mainstream press.

In the end, for a sector that had been among the brighter spots in journalism, the year might best be described as bittersweet.

One trend that emerged toward the end of the year was print publications moving online because they could not afford to keep printing or to meet the changing tastes of readers. For those going online only, it was unclear heading into 2009 whether the strategy would work. It had already hastened one major paper’s demise. But the push online, whether online only or simply beefing up websites, marked a major change for a sector that has been mostly reluctant to make use of the Internet.

Barack Obama’s candidacy was a factor in this move toward almost up-to-the-minute news on the Internet, in some cases right to mobile devices.

The Obama candidacy, indeed, provided some of the “sweet” to the “bitter” for the ethnic media. African American media dedicated unprecedented resources. The Native American media covered the story heavily and had an increase in youth participation. And some sectors of the Spanish-language media benefited from extra attention from the campaigns in the way of advertising dollars.

Once the election was over, however, the year concluded on a tenuous note, with many waiting to see what their next move should be. As signs grew that the recession was deepening, the prospect of further losses in ad revenue posed a particularly serious threat to smaller organizations without much more to cut back on and with no other operations on which they could rely.