Seeing opportunity at the Latin Grammys
The New York Times' Claudio Cabrera explains how the org will cover the Nov. 18 event - and gives public media an example to learn from.
Public radio and television can discover a lot about Hispanic engagement. Not only by listening, but from other media endeavors. The New York Times’ strategy for the 2021 Latin Grammys offers one such teaching moment.
The Latin Grammys take place Thursday, Nov. 18. And the Times has ambitious, yet budget neutral, plans to connect with the audience. The Times will do English and Spanish journalism for it on its website. Claudio Cabrera was generous enough to take time from his busy schedule to talk about it.
You may have caught him at a speaking event or leading a course. If you haven’t, Claudio Cabrera is one of America’s most important Latinos in media. Cabrera is Deputy Off-Platform Director at the New York Times. He and his team focus on driving audience growth through search. They also develop editorial ideas that will serve reader interest across the web. In a media system driven by search, he’s leading conversations at the media organization. It's resulted in stratospheric success.
His impressive career is not without challenges. As an Afro-Latino, Cabrera has dealt with bias and questions about his Latinidad. His book of short stories captures these experiences. Y Tu Ere/Eres Dominicano/a comes out soon.
Claudio Cabrera at the New York Times. Photo by David Vades Joseph.
When you think of the venerable publication, pop stars are not the first thing that spring to mind. Yet much of the United States’ media industry is seeing the popularity of Latin youth culture. The Times is no exception. Cabrera explains this success and the Times’ young journalists shaped the conversation.
“The planning started [mid-September] with a question phase – ‘is this something we want to do’ and ‘if we do it, how do we do it,’” he adds. “A lot of it had to do with audience interest in this event – how many people search for it the night of and in previous years, etc. – and then what are the resources we have and can put on both sides of the aisle.”
Latin popular music’s ascendance is more nuanced than most realize. Not only are there fans you expect, Cabrera points out, but there are audiences who know little or no Spanish, but like the music. This mix of fans has propelled Karol G, Bad Bunny and many others to global superstardom. Not only is the audience there, but the Latin Grammys also offer the Times an opportunity. Cabrera says the organization was presented a chance to touch base with two kinds of readers:
Readers of English content, to understand their interest in this type of journalism
Readers of Spanish content, to get to know them and understand how many readers are out there for the NYT
What's more, the Times is less focused on metrics for the Latin Grammys. Instead, the paper sees this as a way to engage with a different audience. It is a great time to get their comments and feedback.
“While the Times is a subscription-based product, it is measured about what it dives into,” Cabrera says. “But here the Times is looking at this as a test. There was really no pushback. There was more intrigue, like ‘could we pull this off?’ Then it became a matter of finding the right writers the desks felt comfortable with… People are excited about giving it a shot.”
For Times’ writers of Spanish content, the Latin Grammy represent a big leap. Spanish operations at the Times, Cabrera says, have mainly translated English content. For this effort, the Spanish unit will be a reporting hub for Grammys – covering with their experts and more. Practically, there will be a series of “curtain raisers,” or pieces previewing the event, and day-of, embeds and “breakout” articles that cover moments at the event. The focus will be live coverage – with the plan based on the event as opposed to day-to-day reporting.
The Times’ Latin Grammys reporting will come at negligible cost. The organization will be utilizing its existing team of editors and writers for this coverage, although there may be conversations about bringing in Spanish-language freelance writers that understand its editorial voice.
For an established brand like the Times, investing in standalone Spanish content for this event is a bold move. Cabrera strongly recommends media organizations go into their own efforts with an open mind. Few are investing in this kind of engagement, he says, and there is thus a lot of open space to cultivate a new audience. 🟢
La próxima ⌛
The next OIGO is in your inbox Nov. 26, Black Friday. Grace Lee of Viewers Like Us visits with us. You may have read her critique of PBS related to representation. You might have also read PBS' pica rejection of this criticism. The subject is far from resolved. Don’t forget, in 2007, Hispanic leaders took Ken Burns to task over his World War II documentary aired on PBS. Lee will share her perspective as this topic relates to how we see history. She has advice for stations too.
I debated whether to send a newsletter over the break. But, as the great scholar Wednesday Addams reminds us Thanksgiving is a sus holiday. 🤔
If you need a distraction from family time, I’ve got you. And, hey, OIGO will be waiting for you otherwise when you return.
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#NeedIdeas. Have something to brag about? Know someone I could feature? LMK. 🤠
Cafecito: stories to discuss ☕
Yesterday, NPR and Edison Research released their annual Spoken Word Audio Report. 🔊 Did you miss it? I tweeted some of the slides, including habits of young, diverse audiences. The study provides some intriguing insights into why they listen; where they listen; and where spoken audio gains most on music. I hope to see a deck available soon.
Public media leaders aren’t the only ones struggling with Latino/a/e/x engagement. Chastened by weaker election results than expected, Democrats are having a crisis. 🗳️ The Hill goes so far as to call Hispanics the new swing voters. Generational divides, perceptions of particular sloganeering, and Donald Trump are involved.
A firehose of disinformation is due to a lack of moderation in Spanish on YouTube and Facebook. It's trouble for Latino/a/e/x communities. Why? The Washington Post says Hispanics spend significantly more time on YouTube than others. 📱 Media organizers argue that platforms must hire Spanish-fluent leaders and staff to stem the tide.
Chile and Mexico are among the nations acting on diet and public health to combat COVID-19. For Politico, Helena Bottemiller Evich asks why the United States is not more aggressive in going after the food industry. 🌎 “In Washington, there has been no such wake-up call about the link between diet-related diseases and the pandemic. There is no national strategy. There is no systemswide approach, even as researchers increasingly recognize that obesity is a disease that is driven not by lack of willpower, but a modern society and food system that’s almost perfectly designed to encourage the overeating of empty calories,” she writes.
CBSN just dropped a documentary on communities of color and the Second Amendment. Fears of white supremacist terrorism have prompted new self-defense discussions. Hispanic and Black firearms groups have increased since the 2016 election. 🔫
Pathbreaking Latina author Sandra Cisneros is back with a new novella. Her thoughts on writing, Paris and community may inspire you.
El radar: try this 📡
Share Latino/a/e/x cuisine and culture. Food is one of the great avenues to relate stories. KQED’s San Jose: The Bay Area's Great Immigrant Food City is an example of how to do it well. Yosimar Reyes shares a recollection of his abuela making discounted meals for undocumented workers in their apartment building. Carlos Cabrera-Lomelí and Adhiti Bandlamudi report on La Pulga, a sprawling market whose days are numbered. These tales offer ideas for public media to talk about Hispanic life in personal, relevant ways. 🍽️
Discover your most diverse county. Minnesota Public Radio told the story of Nobles County, which has become the state's most diverse area. While this is a familiar story, it bears follow-up. There are many ways to look at the data too, such as in refugee resettlement. Also, the new year, redistricting and midterm elections provide urgency. 🔎
Talk about Alzheimer’s in the Latino/a/e/x community. Texas Public Radio reports that Hispanics are 30 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's Disease. Also, healthcare costs are climbing. More people face this type of dementia. Latino/a/e/x education may be an engagement avenue for public media.
Look into Hispanic teacher shortages. 🍎 The Kansas Leadership Center Journal explored the Latino/a/e/x teacher shortage. Minority instructors, researchers say, have a direct impact on students. Test scores, aspirations and sense of belonging are among the benefits. How do your PTAs, unions and principals feel about Latino/a/e/x teacher recruitment and retention?
Consider the role of music in your programming – digital and elsewhere. Arizona PBS announced that it is experimenting with a music show. 🪗 It will highlight performers from the state. Yet, it won’t air on television. Instead, the program will run on the station’s website, social media channels and the PBS Video app. The station says the initiative addresses audience demands for more music programming. Arizona is almost one-third Hispanic. Related: If Cities Could Dance captures dance as it evolves in a region.
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