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Big Press Boom Centers on Ethnic Readership

MINORITY BUSINESSES IN ORANGE COUNTY; Second of a three-part series exploring the growth and diversity of minority-owned businesses in Orange County. Today, a look at foreign-language newspapers. THURSDAY: Two entrepreneurs' different paths.

August 04, 1987|MARIA L. La GANGA | Times Staff Writer

Despite such efficient targeting, however, Alligood said that "segmentation is only going to go so far. You get to the point of diminishing returns, especially if you're targeting a segment of 20,000 people in a market of 2 million."

That is one reason why most ads in foreign-language newspapers are placed by local merchants rather than national advertisers. Another is that most foreign-language newspapers are small weeklies, whose circulation is unaudited, ad sales unstudied and success at reaching a market difficult to prove.

A report by Hispanic Business magazine--one of the few studies of advertising dollars spent in any ethnic market--estimated that advertisers spent $33.2 million nationwide in 1986 in advertising aimed at Latinos in Spanish- and English-language publications. About $7.5 million of that was spent in the Los Angeles media market, which includes Orange County.

"I would say that 95% to 98% is (spent on) a small handful of large papers like La Opinion (in Los Angeles)," said Stephen Beale, senior editor at Hispanic Business. "I suspect we're not really counting the weeklies."

Still, most of Orange County's ethnic newspapers are circulated for free, which means that the papers are surviving on ad revenues alone. Many--like the Azteca News--are managing to break even, and some--like Nguoi Viet--are even making a profit.

After all, Gutierrez said, advertisers "can't reach them (foreign-language readers) through the mainstream press."

Like many of its Spanish-language competitors, the Azteca News had jusy one national advertisement in a recent edition: a large display ad for beer. The rest of the advertising consisted largely of ads for physicians, immigration attorneys, car repair businesses and employment.

But while Azteca's advertising may be provincial, its editorial content is not. The paper comes out weekly on Wednesdays, and the front page of its June 24 edition had stories about the increase in acquired immune deficiency syndrome among Latinos, the recent Southern California visit of Argentine President Raul Alfonsin, the inauguration of Orange County's new Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the perceived readiness among growers to violate the recently enacted Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

It has a stable of columnists from an array of Latin American countries and tries to reach an audience ranging from "rich people from South America coming into Orange County and poor people coming from Central America," Velo said. The paper's circulation is an estimated 30,000, he said.

Velo is a photographer and college professor from Chile, who fled that country's political oppression in 1973, ended up in Southern California in 1976 and started Azteca in 1980. After five years of red ink, Azteca finally began breaking even two years ago.

"One week you lose $50, the next you make $80," Velo said. "This paper is not for profit."

Azteca's stiffest competition comes from Miniondas, a Santa Ana-based paper that comes out twice a week and sells for a quarter. The front page of Miniondas' June 30 edition sported headlines declaiming, "Mexico; Corruption and Assassinated Journalists," "Fascism, the Biggest Danger that has Existed for Civilization and Culture" and "Sex Change Recognized as Legal in Spain."

Tucked on an inside page of the paper was one installment of a series about "True Crimes and Mysteries," which chronicled the 1941 murder of a Lebanon, Ky., woman and showed the eight bullets that doctors had dug out of her body.

Miniondas editor and publisher Sergio Velasquez says Azteca News is "interesting" but his paper has different readers and a different mission.

"We go political, but only local (politics)," Velasquez said. "We know that most of the people from Mexico from this area are from Michoacan. So we have a lot of news from Michoacan and more pictures, more news, more social (news), more amateur sports."

Miniondas has a circulation of 26,000. Velasquez refuses to discuss its sales and revenues, but adds that "I can tell you it's only two newspapers in Spanish in black numbers: La Opinion and Miniondas."

In August, Miniondas will be published three times a week, will add an English-language section and will drop its X-rated movie ads, Velasquez said, all changes that he contended will strengthen his 12-year-old paper.

Unlike most of its Spanish- and Vietnamese-language counterparts, the three Korean papers that circulate in Orange County are based in Los Angeles and have bureaus in Garden Grove, which has perhaps the most concentrated Korean business population in the county.

The Korea Times is the largest of the Korean-language papers operating in Garden Grove. It comes out six days a week and has a special Orange County edition on Fridays, with about four pages of editorial content and eight pages of ads.

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