The collection embodies the evolution of the Hispanic publishing and advertising market over the past four decades.
One important change Whisler has witnessed is the growth in the number of bilingual publications serving an increasingly young and bilingual audience. In the 1970s, there were only a handful of bilingual publications in the U.S., he says. Today, Whisler counts 294 bilingual newspapers and magazines. “They evolved as their audience has evolved,” he says.
A second development has been the evolution of the quality of the reporting and writing in Latinx publications. “In the ’70s, there were probably less than 50 true professional journalists writing for Hispanic publications,” Whisler says. “Most were people putting publications together because their communities needed it.”
Although he says the number of professionally trained journalists at Hispanic publications has dramatically increased, he bemoans the fact that most Hispanic Americans working in the U.S. media—he estimates 80 percent—remain at Latin outlets rather than moving into mainstream media.
Finally, he notes the explosion of Hispanic print as an ad medium. In 1990, Hispanic newspapers and magazines totaled $151 million in ad dollars, he says. The segment peaked at $1.7 billion in ad revenue in 2007 and—despite the collapse of the newspaper industry after the 2007-2009 recession—accounted for $1.05 billion in ad revenue in 2018.
What started with publications serving approximately 45 local markets in the late 1970s has grown to a network representing more than 180 communities that Whisler has recorded.
“I used to joke that there’d never be a Hispanic publication in, say, North or South Dakota,” he says. “That’s no longer true. And in many of these markets, these newspapers and magazines are literally the only media serving the local Latino population.”