Launched! A new neighborhood Hispanic newspaper in Chicago

el Chicago Hispano, new newspaper in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood

Launch issue pages for "el Chicago Hispano," new newspaper in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood. Click twice to enlarge.

After working with clients, steadily, through 2010 who reported stabilization in display advertising and related revenue, it’s great to see an uptick in interest in starting up newspapers, as well. This week marks the debut issue of El Chicago Hispano, a monthly free newspaper for the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Congratulations to publisher Clemente Nicado, who asked me to design a prototype last fall that he took out to the community.

The sample paper was critical to gauge interest – he reported at the time that it was instantly met with enthusiasm from local retailers, city agencies and other advertisers. That gave him the green light to hire advertising sales help, and the first issue actually exceeded his revenue goals. Even in the depths of winter, interest in this launch is running high. “The reaction of both readers and advertisers has been wonderful!  So far we have exceeded our advertising targets, partly because of some advertisers bought space for several months,” he told me.

The notion of micro-publishing, taking news down to the neighborhood level, seems to be working here, for small businesses who don’t want to pay higher rates for a citywide publication. “It seems that for advertisers, it makes sense to pay less to reach out their potential clients, their neighbors. A good thing is that the advertiser can see results immediately, particularly when somebody goes to their businesses with a copy of the paper in their hands. This has happened with the debut issue.”

Our format – newsy, with lots of shorter items – has caught on. Says Nicado: “Many have said that they ‘like the design a lot,’ and others say they like the idea to publish ‘many and big photos with short articles.’ You know, nobody has time to read long stories!”

“I am excited about the general results and will continue moving forward. The next plan is to increase ad revenue further so we can increase staffing in both sales and editorial.”

While it might have been easy to toss this off as a “shopper,” Nicado reported interest in the community in having a real, local “news” paper, and the sample pages shown above prove that he was able to pull it off. Serious stories about neighborhood crime and traffic issues send a signal that the paper cares about its readers and the improvement of the neighborhood, and the business climate. The layout features a clear, serious tone, as well as pullout text boxes highlighting key elements of the stories.

Several years ago I assisted Nicado with a similar publication, the start-up Negocios Now, a monthly covering Hispanic business in Chicago, now going on its fourth year. Nicado reports continued progress in the reaction from readers and advertisers with that publication as well. Last year Negocios Now was named one of the best designed Hispanic publications in the country by the Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP).

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