By: Tony Case
A Market Profile Of Miami, Fort Lauderdale
by Tony Case
(Mediaweek) You might think you know South Florida, but you probably
don’t. While the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market is among the most exciting
and dramatically diverse in the country, it is also one of the most
stereotyped and misunderstood.
And the dominant daily newspapers there, Knight Ridder’s Miami Herald
and Tribune Co.’s Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, often find themselves
fighting misperceptions of advertisers and media planners as well as
First, let’s get it straight: While constituting a single designated
market area, the cities and their home counties couldn’t be more
different from one another. Although print media buyers often lump
them together (sometimes throwing in nearby Palm Beach, which adds
to the confusion), Miami-Dade County and Fort Lauderdale-Broward
County have about as much in common as Los Angeles and Lubbock.
Everybody knows Miami-Dade is largely Hispanic. Of an adult population
of some 1.6 million, an estimated 58% is Latino, up from 49% in 1990
and just 5% four decades ago.
But many are unaware of the overwhelming influence and affluence of
those consumers. Miami is the third-largest Hispanic market in terms
of buying power, at $17.6 billion, according to Strategy Research,
and ranks first in per-capita buying power. Nearly half of the
businesses in Miami-Dade are Hispanic-owned.
A whopping 58% of Hispanics in Miami-Dade prefer to read their news
in Spanish – the reason the Herald spun off its Spanish-language
section into a stand-alone daily, El Nuevo Herald, two and a half
years ago, to stunning success right out of the gate.
Fort Lauderdale-Broward is relatively homogeneous, typically viewed
as a white-bread enclave of retirees and ‘snowbirds,’ who migrate
there each winter. But those neighborhoods are also changing. More
and more young families are starting to call this home and the area
is also becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, attracting growing
numbers from South America and the Caribbean as well as middle- and
upper-class Hispanics from Dade who have moved in over the past
decade. Of Broward’s overall population of 1.2 million, Hispanics
now account for 11%. Meanwhile, Dade and Broward each host huge
segments of Jewish residents.
Serving diverse readerships
Both the Herald and Sun-Sentinel – which go head-to-head in Broward,
especially in the southern part of the county – devote considerable
resources to reach out to their ever more diverse constituencies.
Besides El Nuevo Herald, the Miami paper produces a range of
specialty publications, such as Destino Miami magazine and the
Jewish Herald. The paper sponsors neighborhood events like Calle
Oche, billed as ‘the world’s largest street party.’
In the wake of the Elian Gonzalez story, which pitted the city’s
Cuban population against non-Hispanics, leaving lasting divisions
between the two groups, the Herald began hosting weekly meetings
of community leaders at the paper’s headquarters aimed at ‘healing’
fractured relations among ethnic groups. The forums are covered
extensively in the paper’s Focus section each Sunday.
The Sun-Sentinel has established a partnership with the Gleener, the
largest daily in Jamaica. And it beefed up its coverage of Latin
America, expanding its Hemisphere page from three days to five and
putting a full-time reporter in Miami to cover Latin business and
But perhaps nothing exemplifies South Florida’s increasing diversity
and its effect on the entrenched media like the creation and subsequent
success of El Nuevo Herald. The paper – with its own staff and decidedly
different editorial tone and graphic look from its English-language
sister – has been a circulation and advertising smash under the tutelage
of its former publisher Alberto Ibarguen, now publisher of the Miami
Herald, and current publisher and editor Carlos Castaneda.
The numbers say it all. For the six months ended March 31 of this year,
the paper grew its reach by an impressive 8.6% through the week, to
87,438 copies, compared to a year earlier, according to the Audit
Bureau of Circulations. The Sunday edition gained 8.4%, with 96,896.
The paper has become the fourth-fastest-growing U.S. daily, and may
move up now that the two papers ahead of it, E.W. Scripps’ Denver
Rocky Mountain News and MediaNews Group’s Denver Post, have joined
hands and presumably will stop going after each other with penny-pricing
In its first full year, El Nuevo Herald reaped $1 million in ad revenue,
and last year it bested that by $400,000, Ibarguen reports. ‘Our
expectation is that El Nuevo Herald is a major revenue opportunity,’ he
Meanwhile, the English-language Herald struggles to grab more readers
because of a number of factors – the creation of the stand-alone
Spanish paper, a pullback in recent years from the northern reaches
of the state, and changing consumer lifestyles and media preferences
that have hit most newspapers hard. Last spring, the Herald’s weekday
sales were flat at 356,128 while Sunday, at 453,375 copies, lost 2%
compared to the year before, according to the Audit Bureau of
The paper has faced continual declines in recent years. In 1997, the
Herald sold 362,184 weekday, 492,235 Sunday copies. Ibarguen insists
that the English-language paper ‘has taken the losses it’s going to
Ad revenue during the second quarter advanced by just 3.3% compared
to the year before. Though much has been made of parent company Knight
Ridder’s recent relocation from Miami to San Jose, Calif., Ibarguen
maintains the move is no indication of its commitment to South Florida.
The company, he said, has had a number of opportunities to sell the
paper. ‘I don’t know why you would sell a company that two years ago
was returning 18% [profit] and this year, at the half year, is returning
22%, as promised.’
Ibarguen – a native Cuban who grew up in Puerto Rico and the New York
area and worked with Times Mirror’s Newsday before moving to Florida
five years ago &3151; believes breaking out El Nuevo Herald just made
good business sense.
‘It wasn’t a political decision – it was a matter of tone and style, a
matter of language,’ he explained in an interview from his expansive
office overlooking the Biscayne Bay. ‘Half a million people in this
county either do not read English or strongly prefer to read in Spanish.
We were requiring them to buy the English-language paper. I was persuaded
that, even though it would mean some kind of hit to the circulation of
the Miami Herald, it always makes more sense to go with the market, to
pay attention to consumers’ needs and figure out what kind of product
you can create that meets those needs.’
Some advertisers target Hispanic market
Advertisers targeting the Hispanic market are responding to South
Florida’s growing and diverse print media landscape. Mary Dowling, vice president/sales director in charge of packaged goods and pharmaceutical
for New York-based Newspaper National Network, which places national ads
in dailies nationwide, said Hispanic-targeted proposals at her company
are running 20% over last year. Advertisers ‘kind of woke up and realized
they weren’t speaking to this audience in a way that they were speaking
to their main audience,’ Dowling said. ‘They weren’t getting their
attention.’ Seagram, Tropicana and Bristol Myers are among NNN clients
going after the Hispanic niche.
Hispanic consumers are ‘very loyal to their advertisers,’ notes Iris
Zayas, vice president of the agency Lipof & Zayas of Fort Lauderdale,
whose clients include Culligan International, Progressive Insurance and
the Flanagan’s restaurant chain. ‘If you advertise, they will come. The
reason [Hispanics] buy Goya is because Goya advertises to them,’ she
Ibarguen noted that Ford Motor Co. president/CEO Jacques Nasser and some
40 of his associates recently tore into Miami to study the market. The
Herald was among the local print media to pitch the advertiser. ‘Somebody
at Ford understood that this market is not the same Hispanic market as
New York or Chicago or L.A.,’ the publisher observed.
As Miami-Dade has witnessed a demographic shift, Sun-Sentinel vice
president/editor Earl Maucker has watched Fort Lauderdale-Broward become increasingly diverse over the 20 years since he joined the paper. But
the ‘market dynamics’ of the two counties are ‘so different,’ he points
out during a conversation at the paper’s towering downtown offices. ‘Dade
County for many years [has been], and continues to be, an exile community.
Broward is second- and third-generation. They grew up on MTV.’ Unlike
Hispanics in Miami-Dade, who overwhelmingly prefer Spanish, Broward’s
Hispanics are ‘very comfortable with the English language and reading in
But Fort Lauderdale-Broward is not the fertile Spanish-language print
market Miami-Dade is. Just last week the Sun-Sentinel closed 13 area
weeklies, including six Spanish-language El Semanal papers, due to poor
financial performance. In 1997, the paper closed the Spanish-language
weekly Exito. ‘It’s not economically feasible at this point to take the
Sun-Sentinel and convert it into the Spanish language,’ said Maucker.
‘We don’t think the audience is there.’
In part to grab the attention of readers from other parts of the world
now living in and visiting Fort Lauderdale-Broward who typically are
single-copy buyers, the Sun-Sentinel this year began producing a newsstand
edition with a look decidedly more eye-catching than subscription copies,
employing larger headlines and bigger pictures.
The paper’s circ was flat for the six months ended March 31 compared to
last year, with 274,963 weekday copies and 389,568 Sunday, according to
ABC. But the paper has been growing; in 1997, weekday circ stood at
256,953, Sunday 371,306.
Maucker said it is impossible to please every segment of a paper’s
readership, although he and his staff try. ‘I get complaints from the
growing Hispanic political base that doesn’t feel we’re giving them as
much attention as we should,’ he said. ‘But I get those complaints from
every group.’ Maucker is trying to strike a balance between growing
minority groups who want to see themselves in the paper and ‘the New York
retirees’ who constitute a large readership base. ‘They don’t care about
Haiti [or] Panama,’ he said.
Selling advertising to ethnic businesses remains a challenge, said
Sun-Sentinel vice president/general manager Susan Hunt. When the paper
found it had a tough time getting shops in Caribbean neighborhoods to
buy space, it hired a sales rep who was a native of the Islands. Many
small ethnic businesses ‘still think of us as the ‘white newspaper,’
and I think that’s a national issue for the established media,’ she said.
Meanwhile, Hunt finds larger advertisers’ lack of understanding about
her market frustrating at times. ‘In the advertising community, there
are a lot of misperceptions – that black people don’t have money maybe,
or that old people don’t spend money, or that Hispanics want everything
in Spanish,’ she said.
On the other hand, having such a wildly diverse constituency can help
boost the paper’s image among clients aiming for mass. ‘It’s truly a
melting pot, and we’re at the cutting edge of what’s going to happen
in the rest of the country,’ she said of Fort Lauderdale-Broward. The
Sun-Sentinel’s message to advertisers, increasingly, she says: ‘We
have a population for you.’
Lucia Moses (email@example.com) is an associate editor for
(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher