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Spanish media a million little pieces

May 15, 2009

Houston- Once upon a time journalism was a style of writing for presenting bare facts to describe news events.  It was an era that had newsrooms properly funded with the talent and resources to gather the news where ever it happened.  News bureaus existed in every FB2major news making region to supply the exclusive feed to their organizations.  The wire services filled in the rest of news gathering.  I’m going to date myself here by saying that I got to see a teletype machine at a newspaper I sold newspapers for. 

Radio was  King for news and family entertainment

As a kid growing up in the rural country, our only source of news and entertainment was of course the radio.  Those were the days of pre-transistors and expensive black and white TVs we could not afford. Whatever “Jacobo Zabludovsky” (the Spanish Walter Cronkite) said, it was the gospel truth. 

We were awakened to the sounds of Los Panchos from a radio station that had the transmission wattage to send their signal clear across the country.  I remember when my father was glued to the famous radio boxing broadcast of Roberto Duran and his famous words “no mas.” Having worked on both sides of the fence, both as a producer and media buyer.  I can tell you the layout of news gathering and reporting is very different from that era of yester year. 

The obits for newspapers have been written

Newspapers today have gone from bleeding to amputating, to shutting down.  Newsrooms have been pimped out and down sized.  With the advent of digital media it’s a whole different world.  News reporters have to do much more with less and less. Television and radio stations often rely on daily papers to determine the news assignments.  Talk about circular news gathering and reporting! Once in a while they dedicate the necessary time and resources to do investigative reporting.  The staple on which newspapers were built upon.  Radio and TV is 96.7% entertainment and advertising, the rest is a version of Google news.  The irony is without the last vestiges of newsrooms feed, Google and other aggregators would have to hire an army of journalists to report the news.  The latest strategy newspapers are considering implementing is a micro “pay to read” online news.

News talk is cheap 

I am told by people in the know that a monthly subscription to Notimex the famous news wire service is a mere 300 bucks per month.  Ay caramba.  One common criticism of all Spanish media, is that it’s dumbed down and too sexual. Are Hispanics dumb and sexually deprived?  Of course not!  This programming model is what media moguls have decided to feed the masses.  One of our resident bloggers  thinks the TV commercials are better quality than the programming.  I don’t know about that.  On second thought, I do know, and she is right.  There are too many reasons and not enough profits to change that which is currently broken in that segment.  Spanish radio networks have been hit hard like other media properties, forcing more satellite programming.  So it’s becoming more of a one size fits all. 

Old time journalist broadcasters are out, new comics are in. 

raul feliciano

Raul Feliciano is a gentleman of an era gone by.  He is a retired journalist by trade and a native of Chile.  He once worked as a reporter for one of the Spanish news wire services.  He was the voice of news and talk shows for the Spanish Houston market for many years.  He once told me he got tired of all the twaddle he had to produce for pure entertainment value.  So what is a serious journalist to do?  Pitch his idea of a new quality show that would be different.  He was a great interviewer along the likes of Larry King and Art Bell.  A retired talk show producer/host of the paranormal with Clear Channel.  One former colleague of his told me it was her idea that Mr. Feliciano plagiarized.  In my experience there is nothing new in broadcasting.  It’s a domain of cross pollination and recycling.  All media moguls still give orders to the producers to come up with the next Ophra, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey and the like. 

Talented journalist broadcasters finish last

I once met and produced a gentleman broadcaster that had talent coming out his pores and vocal cords.  He barely eked out a living due to his journalism experience of three decades having no market value due to having the demand of an eight track player in the age of Twitter.  Instead he spent his life in an obscure prison, a recording booth doing voice overs for commercials.  I spoke with him recently and he joked that his problem was not dumbing down and being more chuntaro.  Things that make you go hmmm?

Jorge Ramos Univision news anchor
Jorge Ramos Univision news anchor


When Michael Eisner speaks shut up and listen

Michael Eisner recently commented about what it takes to succeed with digital media.  It seems few are listening.  A quality show requires extensive resources staff and talent.  Spanish media would rather entertain with racy programming than inform, educate and champion journalistic talent.  It’s pure economics, less cost and less effort.  One example of this is the elimination of the local news cast of the Telemundo TV station.  It’s much cheaper to produce in one set and satellite feed the other markets. In Spanish media they throw a lot of broadcasting people against the wall like spaghetti and the ones that stick they grow into regional and national personalities.  If they get too pricey and old there is a vast pool of candidates for a fraction of the cost or worse they import them from Latin America.

 Minerva Perez

Just like the music business for every star born there are thousands on the heap of discarded radio and TV personalities.  I have met some of these former local media astros now working as pitch people in real estate, autos, PR and anything else they can find to put food on the table.     

Mommas don’t let your children grow up to be journalists

The future of journalism is predicted to be more and more entertainment buzz making and less news reporting.  Could it get any worse?


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