NEW YORK CITY (TIP): A 5 member panel of representatives of ethnic and community media  interacted  with communications directors of City Council members at a  panel  discussion organized by Juana Ponce de Leon, Director of Media Diversity Relations, Office of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on June 1.

A view of the Communications Directors present at the conference
A view of the Communications Directors present at the conference

The panel included  Javier Castano , Director, Queens Laino,  Prof. Indrajit S Saluja , Editor, The Indian Panorama, Isseu Diouf Campbell, Communications & Media Consultant and Founder of  Afrikanpot.com, Anthony Advincula  from  New American Media, and Lotus Chan from Sing Tao Daily. Around 25 of the 51 Communications Director participated.

Speaking of the objective of the panel discussion, Juana who moderated said there was a need   for newspaper editors and communications directors to understand each other’s needs and get to know what each expected of the other.  It was necessary, she said, to build a closer relationship between the City through the  communications directors and the newspapers.

While  each of the panelists presented his/ her  perspective, the panelists also took questions  from the communications directors. The broader consensus was that the City and the ethnic and community media needed to work in closer cooperation.

Directors of communication were requested to send in information on a regular basis, preferably in the  language of the newspaper to which the information was being sent

Speaking about the contribution of these papers, a panelist, Prof. Saluja  said: “There are around 350 ethnic and community newspapers in scores of languages which reach out to millions of immigrants living in New York City. The City school system claims that 182 languages are spoken in the City schools. The ethnic and community media reaches out to 37% population of New York which has an immigrant population of 1.4 to 1.8 million. They have little or no English. The only source of information for them is their language newspaper. They depend on ethnic and community newspapers to get to know of what is happening here and “back home”. It is these newspapers which carry to these millions the policies and programs of New York City and the multiple administration agencies and keep them informed on various political, social, economic and cultural issues. Exercising great influence over the minds of their readers, they help them form healthy opinions. And, yet there was a  disconnect between the City and the ethnic media.  The City spent in 2013, $18 million on advertisements and 82% of it went to mainstream media, numbering just a few. Imagine, 350 small ethnic and community publications got a meager 18%. Here is the disconnect. It must end.”