Build an effective advocacy voice by, for and with ethnic media to help sustain and grow the sector
Promote inter-ethnic communications through collaborative editorial and social marketing projects
Expand career paths for ethnic media reporters through reporting fellowships and professional trainings
Ensure an equitable distribution of ad dollars for the ethnic media’s role in engaging and informing audiences on vital issues
Develop pilot youth communication projects for underserved teens, youth and young adults
Strengthen communications between ethnic media and nonprofit advocacy and grassroots service organizations
How it began
In mid-December 2017, Sandy Close, former executive director of New America Media, together with several former NAM staff and ethnic media veterans, launched Ethnic Media Services. The mission was to sustain projects begun by New America Media that would otherwise have had to end when NAM closed on Nov. 30. (Pacific News Service dba New America Media Announces Closure of Organization)
Most of these projects aimed to support ethnic media’s work on issues of vital concern to immigrant and ethnic minority audiences such as immigration reform, climate change, consumer fraud, the 2020 Census. Other projects were developing pilot media programs with underserved communities such as community college students or the youth culture in the outer suburbs.
With the advice of numerous foundation colleagues, Close and her colleagues asked the San Francisco Study Center to serve as its fiscal sponsor, managing financial, HR, and administrative work and freeing EMS to focus on programs. Study Center eagerly agreed and also offered office space and editorial assistance. A number of funders, NGOs, government agencies and PR firms agreed to repurpose grants promised to NAM in 2018 to EMS — or to other nonprofits with whom EMS would partner.
As of mid-2018, the EMS team, all working under contract, had completed or were implementing most of the projects NAM promised to complete this year and to initiate new projects under EMS auspices.
Today, many ethnic media outlets face dire challenges to their survival yet remain dedicated to serving their audiences whose need for trusted information and advocacy is greater than ever. EMS’s team feels incredibly fortunate to continue NAM’s legacy. Amar Gupta, a long time ethnic media partner, said “NAM was a valued brand, but what matter are the trusted relationships with the media and those continue.”
Ethnic media exploded with growth over the last 40 years, paralleling an unprecedented influx of immigrants from all over the world. By 2009, an estimated 60 million American adults relied on some form of ethnic media — print, online, TV, radio — for news, information and entertainment. In California, over half the state’s new majority of ethnic minorities named an ethnic news source they referenced regularly or occasionally.
Today, like general market media, the ethnic media sector is buffeted by the challenges of the digital era — from the collapse of the advertising model to the explosion of social media. Their survival depends on diverse audiences having somewhere to turn for trusted news, for visibility, for a voice.
Ethnic media will evolve as the communities they serve evolve. Knight Ridder began as a German newspaper and turned into a corporate media giant. In Nashville, the largest Kurdish population outside Kurdistan communicates through WhatsApp on the imam’s iPhone. In Richmond, California, a black news outlet is now bilingual, in Spanish and English, and targets not just one ethnic group but the entire city.
Mainstream media have imagined ethnic media as insular and parochial. What if it’s the other way around? As climate change results in global migration tripling over the next 30 years, the media-serving diaspora populations could become the new mainstream.