NEW YORK CITY (TIP): Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced, January 27, an expansion of New York City’s outreach and engagement with community and ethnic media outlets across the five boroughs. Today’s announcement includes the launch of an online directory of ethnic and community media for City employees to use in outreach and informational and paid campaign efforts, and a system to ensure accountability with the aim of having equitable communications across diverse ethnic, racial and geographic communities. The Mayor and Speaker will convene community-based journalists in the coming weeks to discuss these efforts.

Melissa Mark-Viverito
“Today we are ensuring that the City speaks the language of our people,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is seen in the front.

Many New Yorkers turn to neighborhood, youth and ethnic media to get their news, frequently in languages other than English, and the de Blasio Administration is committed to providing equal access to information. Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has advocated for proactive and consistent engagement of community media, and has dedicated resources and expertise in working with the Administration to ensure inclusion of diverse outlets.

“In the city of immigrants, no person should be denied access to vital services or information due to their language. Half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home. Almost one-sixth of all NYC households – 1.8 million people – are proficient in languages that are not English. Today we are ensuring that the City speaks the language of our people,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Government has a responsibility to engage diverse media equitably so that we can communicate with a wide range of constituents,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am pleased that we are raising the bar for the way agencies plan and execute their outreach, public service announcements and paid campaigns. By doing so, we move towards being a more inclusive city at all levels.”

“The de Blasio Administration is committed to speaking the language of multilingual New Yorkers, and as part of this outreach we must also reach them in the media outlets that are an integral part of their day-to-day lives,” said Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “The Administration has also deepened its commitment to language access to ensure that information is made available to all New Yorkers by hiring an Executive Director at MOIA who works to implement citywide tools, training, and reporting mechanisms. 311 now also accepts complaints from New Yorkers who have experienced language barriers at City Agencies.”

“The Ethnic and Community Media Directory will strengthen the effectiveness of communications efforts throughout the city,” said Mindy Tarlow, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations. “Now communications teams have a guide that will further ensure their message is heard across the five boroughs.”

“The responsibility of ensuring that our communities have access to relevant news is shared by press and by government. This Council is interested in engaging community press sources in a real way and this commitment is memorialized in part by today’s announcement. Without a doubt, we need to remain engaged about how we strengthen our relationships with community press and by extension, with the communities that they serve. I am proud to be witness to this important first step,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration.

“The ethnic and community press plays a crucial role in our city’s diverse neighborhoods –  especially to public school families who collectively speak more than 200 languages,” said Maite Junco, NYC Department of Education Senior Advisor for External Communications. “These media outlets spread out across our city are vital vehicles to reach our families and I thank the Administration for providing communication professionals in city government with an online tool to help us reach every New Yorker regardless of their zip code or language they speak.”

Historically, City Agencies’ media outreach has focused primarily on English-language outlets, in spite of the fact that New York City is the ethnic media capital of the country -with hundreds of community and ethnic media outlets speaking dozens of languages. This trend has shifted under the de Blasio Administration, with the development of campaigns to inform all New Yorkers about IDNYC, Paid Sick Leave, and Pre-K For All, among other initiatives. Ethnic and community media were central to the outreach strategy, and the engagement and enrollment results clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of multilingual media outreach.

To ensure that engagement of community and ethnic media becomes standard citywide practice, MOIA has worked with the Mayor’s Office of Operations, the City Hall Press Office, the City Council Speaker’s Office and the CUNY School of Journalism to create an online directory of ethnic and community media. The directory is a database of more than 200 TV, radio, print and digital news outlets covering more than 30 languages. This directory will help City Agency communications staff identify the most effective ways of reaching their intended audiences through media outreach as well as public service announcements and paid media campaigns. For City Agencies, this resource will strengthen the Administration’s communications reach to all corners of the five boroughs. In addition, City Agencies will report on an annual basis their advertising budgets alongside the budget spent on ethnic media outreach. This process will ensure that agencies are accountable and will measure communications efforts against metrics that gauge if outreach is equitable amongst different ethnic/racial and/or limited English proficient (LEP) communities.

“A significant portion of New Yorkers depend on ethnic and community media as a source of news and information. By providing City Agencies with this media resource, the City will better connect with immigrant communities across the five boroughs,” said Jehangir Khattak, Co-Director of the Center for Community and Ethnic Media at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

“Ethnic and community media play a critical role in reaching dozens of immigrant communities. As an organization, we work closely with a broad range of ethnic media, recognizing that they are lifelines for immigrants who learn about programs and policies that impact them in their own languages first,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, composed of over 200 community-based and immigrant direct service organizations, representing constituencies across New York State. “The Ethnic and Community Media Directory released by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the City Council Speaker will be a vital tool for city government, agencies, and community organizations to strengthen their connections to the reporters and journalists who are at the frontlines of immigrant issues and who will ensure that our communities are fully informed.”