The official Window on State Government Report, updated in 2013, shows that the national population has increased by approximately 6.4% since the year 2000. The state of Texas has seen a population boom that is nearly twice the national average, topping at 12.7% according to Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller on Public Accounts. Within the state, the hispanic population has grown by 10.9% and is the “fastest-growing population group” in Texas.
In response to the growing hispanic populations, independent sources of media have emerged to serve an increasingly diverse audience both in ethnicity and in culture. Cities like San Antonio with a hispanic population of more than 63% and Austin with a hispanic population of 35% have been home to many newspapers, magazines, and other media sources whose goal is to serve a largely hispanic audience.
Belinda Gene Acosta is a journalist and writer who has worked for the Austin Chronicle, the San Antonio Express News, Latino USA, Latino Magazine, and many more media outlets. She is also an independent author who has published two books titled, “Sisters, Strangers, and Starting Over” and “Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz”. In a January 2013 interview, Acosta described her experience working at media outlets in Texas.
As a journalist, Acosta works to create content that would serve the general reader, however she is conscious of diverse audiences. While her goal is to not isolate one particular group as primary readership, she wants to cover content that is representative of the population in the area.
When asked whether or not writing for a heavily hispanic audience impacted the style of her writing Acosta expressed the philosophy that drives her writing style.
“I don’t think I was ever very conscious about, ‘I’m writing for a latino audience now. I’m writing for an anglo audience now. I’m writing for an African-American audience now,’” said Acosta.
However, Acosta did say that the dynamic of the journalism business may have influenced the way she handled content and approached the general subject matter.
“Perhaps I was conscious about realizing that…I’m writing about a latino themed subject that is being placed in a publication run by non-latinos,” said Acosta.
Working at publications that were run by non-latinos proved to be challenging in the way Acosta was approached as a latina writer. When working for the Austin Chronicle, Acosta was confronted by a co-worker who asked if she was offended that she was chosen to cover latino-related subject material.
Acosta said, “My original response was that I actually like that. I like those subjects because I’m Latina so it doesn’t bother me at all. But I think that their question was couched in the idea that I was maybe being ‘ghettoized’ and that I was only capable of writing a certain kind of story or a certain themed story…and I can see that.”
In evaluating the angle of the Austin Chronicle overall, Acosta offered a critical evaluation of her time spent as a journalist there.
“They seemed to be oblivious to the fact that there was an emerging Latino Middle class,” said Acosta. “It was very rarely reflected in any meaningful way.”
While she defended the Austin Chronicle in their evolution as a media outlet for a diverse audience, she clarified that they weren’t consistent in their techniques.
“I don’t know that they’ve responded as fully as they possibly could have to the breadth of the population of the city. I think they give it a try. I think they give it shots and sometimes they do better than other times,” said Acosta.
As journalism enters a modern age of digital publishing, it can be expected that the way information is communicated will shift as well. While Acosta feels that the hispanic population in Austin is sure to be impacted by the change in the way news is disseminated to the public, she offered an interpretation of readership as a whole.
“People are self-segregating,” said Acosta. “I don’t think that breaks down to race…I think it breaks down to habit.”
To read more about Acosta and her work with the Austin Chronicle, you can visit the Author Archives of the newspaper’s website HERE.
Click HERE to read Acosta’s coverage of Latinitas, a digital magazine for latinas launched in Austin, Texas through the University of Texas.
Click HERE to see the YouTube documentary about the work of the Latinitas Magazine in Austin, Texas.
Do you think writers should frame their message for an ethnic audience, in this case a heavily hispanic readership? [Comment below.]
1) Yes, definitely.
2) Sure, it couldn’t hurt and it may even help.
3) I’m not sure.
4) No. There doesn’t seem to be a reason to do this.
5) Definitely not. There is a reason NOT to do this.