Media Analysis: Minority titles carry extra clout

As Jewish News ushers in a new editor-in-chief, Sarah Robertson investigates the array of newspapers available to Britain's various ethnic minorities, the issues that they cover and the opportunities for PROs.

Former Sunday Express deputy editor Charles Golding began to settle into the editor-in-chief's chair at the Jewish News last week. As he did, he highlighted the paper's good relationship with the PR industry and confirmed there would continue to be ample opportunities for PROs within its 30-plus editorial pages.

The free weekly title is one of a plethora of newspapers for ethnic minorities (EM) in the UK, most of which work closely with PROs on both issues-based and consumer campaigns.

Respect in the community

These titles carry more clout in their respective minority communities than the mainstream media. They are trusted in a way the mainstream media is not, says Golding: 'People from ethnic minorities will listen to journalists writing for their community more,' he says.

But the EM press is read less devoutly by younger people who are likely to mix their reading with the mainstream media.

According to COI black and minority ethnic communications manager Patricia Macauley, the EM press tends to lend a supportive ear to government and NGO campaigns: 'It allows us to talk about issues that the mainstream media would not. It allows open and honest discussion, posing questions such as "why are our children underachieving?" in a constructive manner, rather than finger-pointing and stereotyping.'

Moreover, the EM press reaches groups notoriously hard to access by mainstream media. Government News Network diversity desk manager Kike Biye says: 'It's essential the Government gets its message across to ethnic minorities, and targeting their specialist press is an important part of doing this.'

Government campaigns that have targeted the EM press include issues such as army recruitment, teaching, childcare, gun crime, the illegal import of food into the UK and health.

But the biggest common theme running across the EM press is the issue of racism, says The PR Office chairman Shimon Cohen. The EM press has an essential role to play in reflecting and steering community sentiment on the issue, he adds.

His comments were made as London Assembly chairman Brian Coleman tabled an emergency motion this week calling for mayor Ken Livingstone to apologise for comparing the behaviour of a (Jewish) London Evening Standard reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

EM titles are an important conduit for dealing with social issues generally, but government and NGO PROs are still not researching how to target them properly, says Eastern Eye editor Amar Singh: 'We need PROs as much as they need us but so many are still getting it wrong.' He cites a recent flu jab campaign targeting a Chinese-language newspaper that used boxer Henry Cooper saying 'I can take a jab' - but Cooper was not recognised and the play on words didn't translate.

Caribbean Times editor Ron Shillingford says: 'I am looking for information on entertainment such as music festivals and have to rely on the wires because we receive so little usable information from PROs.'

In contrast, the NSPCC's helpline campaign targeting the South Asian press used boxer Amir Khan, which worked well, says Singh. Also, The Post Office is capitalising on the South Asian press's fascination with Bollywood with a campaign to push its phone cards using an Indian cinema theme.

South Asian tabloids such as Eastern Eye are always interested in Asian celebrity news or anything that is related to Bollywood, adds Singh.

Ethnic minority specialist agency Media Moguls MD Anjma Raheja says she has even contacted the Asian press about whisky brands, popular in the Gujarati and Punjabi communities.

A dangerous misconception for PROs is that the EM publications of one specific community share the same tone and content, says Cohen. 'There are five Jewish newspapers, which all have completely different politics and levels of religion. PROs must be enormously sensitive or they will wreck any potential relationships,' he warns.

WEEKLY ETHNIC MINORITY PRESS

- Jewish News (published by Totally)

Editor-in-chief: Charles Golding, Contact: 020 7692 6932,

newsdesk@totallyplc.com

Deadline: 12pm Wednesday

Circulation: 35,000 (ABC)

- The Voice (Gleaner Voice Group)

Editor-in chief: Deidre Forbes

Contact: 020 7737 7377

pr@gleanervoicegroup.com

Deadline: Friday 6pm

Circulation: 44,000 (not ABC)

- Eastern Eye (Ethnic Media Group)

Switchboard: 020 7650 2000

Editor: Amar Singh amar@easterneyeuk.co.uk

Deadline: 12pm Tuesday

Circulation: 20,000 (ABC)

- Asian Times (Ethnic Media Group)

Editor: Burhan Ahmed asiantimes@ethnicmedia.co.uk

Deadline: Friday 6pm

Circulation: 18,500 (ABC)

- New Nation (Ethnic Media Group)

Editor: Michael Eboda meb@newnation.co.uk

Deadline for news: midday Friday; features: midday Thursday

Circulation: 21,425 (ABC)

- Caribbean Times (Ethnic Media Group)

Editor: Ron Shillingford, caribbeantimes@ethnicmedia.co.uk

Deadline: Tuesday 12pm

Circulation: 19,250 (ABC)

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