(OP-ED) The “Minority Media Budget” & current promotion of Philadelphia
Local Journalism is dying, we know that, but this is something our city leaders can do immediately to save it and nurture it again.
In the 25 years my family and I have had the fortune of publishing AL DÍA, we have experienced how painful it can be when your media business operation, and your journalism, is branded and chocked by the seemingly harmless label “minority."
It doesn’t sound like a detrimental label — built as it is into the official nomenclature of the advertising agencies, and the language of marketing executives and decision-makers — yet its unconscious semantics ultimately causes harm as it determines how the money ultimately gets spent.
You are “minority” because someone decides so.
You are “minority” because someone decides so and, in AL DIA’s case, we are further diminished by the additional sticker — in the media business a stigma — of being “Spanish,” “Hispanic” and a “person-of-color-owned” business, and lately “Brown”, as the new, over-simplistic “Black and Brown” term spreads out.
What at the start was a source of pride — to be called “Hispanic” — becomes humiliating confinement when you quickly find out that the “minority” category under which you are placed, bundled with “the Black, the Asian, the Native American, and also the LGBT,” leaves your media company, and its original journalism — no matter its quality and professional standard — in one of the last compartments of these endless categories and subcategories of subtraction that only leave only pennies on the table out of the initial dollar allocated in the general advertising budget. It’s a budget that is still sliced up in its largest portion for the benefit of “mainstream,” TV, Billboards, and other corporate-owned media.
The “minority media budget” is then justified, enacted, looks logical, and even equitable, but it is always a single-digit percentage, keeping media labeled “minority” shackled to a status that translates into fewer resources and less capacity to operate.
The paradox is that the term, initially created “to protect minority groups commonly discriminated against,” as the relevant definition of a minority in the dictionary reads, yields a "reservation mentality" and becomes at the end the most effective mechanism to perpetuate inequality and paternalism for new and emerging media - media that has for years done a job “mainstream media” is incapable, or disinclined to do:
The reporting on the new, multicultural America... so indispensable, today more than ever.
The reporting on the new, multicultural America — the America of the 21st century, where the former “minorities” have already flipped the coin and become the actual majorities, numerically, particularly in cities like Philadelphia — is so indispensable, today more than ever.
I am very proud of the top drawer journalism performed this week by AL DIA’s team of multicultural writers, editors, photographers, and designers that brought out of the shadows the other unsung heroes of the post-COVID economic recovery, the Restaurateurs that have made Philadelphia one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the country, still unacknowledged by the people who slice the budget according to an outdated racial nomenclature and —shall we finally say it— the racist undertone it embraces.
The time has arrived to end this sort of economic apartheid in the administration of the advertising budgets and allow new media to grow and help save the practice of good local, original journalism— before it is too late.