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. Thus, the City administration and its numerous agencies are greatly benefited from ethnic and community newspapers which have a wide reach among populations to whom the mainstream newspapers mean nothing, as they do not understand the language.
The ethnic newspapers are happy to play the role of bridge builders between the mainstream and the diverse communities. With meager resources, out of a passionate desire and commitment for the welfare of the communities and the administration, publishers of these newspapers strive to reach out to the ethnic stock, on the one hand, and the mainstream, on the other, serving as a bridge between the two. Establishing this linkage is absolutely necessary for the health and strength of a society.
The ethnic and community papers have been playing their part, in all fairness. But has the City administration ever tried to give them back for their work and services? One would say, without hesitation, “NO”. 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.
We only want the City administration to understand that there has to be a fair distribution of the available resources with it. The ethnic publications should not be deprived of a fair share just because they are small or because they are not organized as a trade group. Each of these small papers is making a singular contribution to the growth and strength of the City. Let the City under a fair minded and liberal Mayor end this discrimination and the disconnect. The sooner, the better.