¿Habla usted inglés?

Anyone who rides the New York City subway in the morning knows there are a plethora of ethnic newspapers in this city. Well did you know that there are actually close to 350 ethnic and community newspapers? That’s nearly double what I guessed! And according to the Mayor’s Office on Immigrant Affairs, there are 1.8 million people in the city with little or no English-language skills. No wonder there are so many ethnic newspapers. How else would these communities get their news?

Unfortunately it’s pretty easy to see that ethnic communities, including minorities and young people, are often marginalized or even exploited in today’s mainstream media. The more these groups are better informed, better connected to one another, and better able to influence policy makers, the better they can serve their communities. These kinds of communities and networks flourish when there is a media that speaks for them. Luckily in New York there are organizations that support the basic ethnic media infrastructure, like The New York Community Media Alliance (NYCMA). NYCMA is an organization that works to promote and support independent publications committed to social justice and a free press. In pursuit of this goal, the NYCMA provides technical assistance to its member publications and is a vigorous public advocate of the independent press.

Curious to see what some of the stories are that pervade the ethnic media? Well to view NYCMA’s weekly edition of Voices That Must Be Heard, click here. And if you’re interested in seeing where there are offices of ethnic publications in New York City by borough, click here.

And although you might think that New York is unique as a hodge-podge of culture and ethnic media, the ethnic media is also the fastest growing sector of American Journalism across the country. Out in California there’s New America Media which serves as the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations, an “AP” of ethnic news.

To acknowledge that the ethnic media is “progressive” seems to state the obvious: these media outlets serve constituencies with the greatest stake in social change in our society. Yet, ethnic media remain largely off the radar or progressive policy institutes, media and communications strategists and even those working in the media reform movement. But through the efforts of organizations like New America Media and The New York Community Media Alliance which serve as vehicles for communication, we can build allies between progressive groups and ethnic minorities. Their work defends immigrant rights and provides a voice to a large segment of the population that has been excluded by the mainstream media from representation in the political process.