Tribune Co. Ditches its One-Size-Fits-All 'Hoy'

Sells New York Edition to ImpreMedia; Folds Others into Chicago, L.A. Papers

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There are two lessons to learn from Tribune Co.'s abandoning its USA Today-like approach to Spanish-language-newspaper publishing: First, the U.S. Hispanic market isn't a homogenous whole, and second, once-impervious Spanish-language publications aren't immune to the newspaper downturn.

Tribune last week announced its plan to sell the money-losing New York edition of Hoy to a rival and incorporate the freestanding Chicago and Los Angeles editions into the portfolios of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

As part of the shift, the Times named Hoy's Los Angeles General Manager Javier Aldape VP-audience development of the general-market paper. Mr. Aldape formerly presided over a national edition of Hoy that offered slight tweaks in daily content for the very different Hispanic audiences in Los Angeles and Chicago, both dominated by Hispanics of Mexican descent, and New York, which skews more heavily toward Puerto Ricans and Dominicans.

"I would need to make decisions to benefit all three markets collectively, which was very difficult," he said. "What the local-centric approach does is it allows us to be more responsive to our audience here ... and we can also help the Times" reach that audience more effectively.

Of course, Tribune's embrace of a local Hispanic strategy calls to attention the fact that it earlier shunned that approach. Tribune owned a 50% stake in the dominant local paper in Los Angeles, La Opini¢n, and sold it to pursue the national Hoy strategy. La Opini¢n is now owned by ImpreMedia, a fast-growing, private-equity-fueled roll-up that has become the country's top Spanish-daily publisher by acquiring dominant local brands and eschewing a national approach.

ImpreMedia bought the New York Hoy from Tribune last week and intends to continue operating the paper as a free, commuter-centric, tabloid alternative to its paid-circulation, market-leading El Diario La Prensa. The two publications will have a combined readership of nearly 480,000 in the No. 2 U.S. Hispanic market.

A Tribune spokesman said its model didn't work well in New York because the company's general-market paper there, Newsday, is a Long Island-based tabloid without a strong presence in many of the major Hispanic neighborhoods.

ImpreMedia CEO John Paton said divorcing Hoy from its national ambitions will make it more relevant to its target audience. "One-size-fits-all doesn't work in this market," he said.
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