Art Works Blog

Embracing the Velocity of Change

Mike Henry. Photo courtesy of Mr. Henry

I’ve spent the last two days attending the Grantmakers in the Arts conference in San Francisco. These are the largest and most giving foundations in support of the arts. Unlike radio’s myopic focus on 25-54 adults, foundations tend to mine demographics that mainstream media ignores, and they fill in the targeting gaps that commercial media avoids. Indeed, their theme this year is “Embracing the Velocity of Change,” which is a concept with which everyone in media can relate.

Two themes at GIA 2011 are topics to which radio and media should pay close attention.

The Future of Arts Journalism

This was a session outlining the Knight Foundation/National Endowment for the Arts’ efforts to seed local journalism across America. Yes, foundation money is now stepping up to ensure the critical continuation of local JOURNALISM in American media. The finalists will work with a consultant and receive support of up to $20,000 to develop an Idea to Action plan. In addition, the finalists will be eligible for up to $80,000 to implement their project. Six projects also will be designated as honorable mentions and receive $1,000 each.

The list of Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge winners includes a project in St. Paul.  Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media will expand its multimedia arts coverage of the Latino community, including reporting shared with Spanish- and English-language publishing partners.

I applaud these efforts to keep the flame of true local journalism alive.  A full list of local journalism initiatives funded by Knight/NEA can be found here.

Ethnic Media Research

I spoke at a session called “Ethnic Media Research” along with Radio Bilingue executive director Hugo Morales. Hugo and I presented highlights from the mounds of ethnic media research conducted for LA Public Media and the short-lived LA Forward website. While LA Forward lived and then died by the funding sword of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the research conducted to launch and test LA Forward lives on.

In preparing for the session, Hugo uncovered new census bureau statistics about bulging Latino populations:

  1. Every day there are 2,800 more Latinos in the U.S.
  2. Every year there are ONE MILLION more Latinos in the U.S.
  3. 200,000 Latinos turn 18 every month.
  4. 98% of Latinos under the age of 18 are U.S. citizens.
  5. 60% of the Latino population growth from 2000 to 2010 is from Latino births, with 40% from immigrants. This is a shift from the last census when it was 60% due to immigration and 40% to Latino births in the U.S.
  6. Latino population growth is happening in 95% of U.S. counties. The growth of the Latino population is a national growth, not regional.

Regardless of your format or market, the shifting demographics around us should not be ignored.  Clearly, the need for media to include Latinos and all cross-ethnic audiences in target audiences is greater than ever. Public radio is starting to acknowledge this change with new formats and targeting approaches. Will commercial radio follow, or will it become cemented as an “old” and “white” medium while the non-white populations in America quickly become a majority?

"Embracing the velocity of change" is easy to say, but may prove difficult for some to do.

This post originally appeared on the Paragon Media Strategies blog.

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