Media: A magazine for women that lives la vida Latina - Latina magazine rides the divide between serious features and light lifestyle stories - reaching upwardly mobile Latina women. Claire Atkinson reports

Latina magazine has managed to capture all the magic of America’s Hispanic culture. From actress Jennifer Lopez to author Isabel Allende, the three-year-old monthly title champions Hispanic stars and lifestyles.

Latina magazine has managed to capture all the magic of America’s Hispanic culture. From actress Jennifer Lopez to author Isabel Allende, the three-year-old monthly title champions Hispanic stars and lifestyles.

Latina magazine has managed to capture all the magic of America’s

Hispanic culture. From actress Jennifer Lopez to author Isabel Allende,

the three-year-old monthly title champions Hispanic stars and


But just as artists like Gloria Estefan and Ricky Martin struggled for

years to reach the mainstream, so did Latina. It began life as a law

school class project and took years for its 30-year-old founder, Christy

Haubegger, a Texan of Mexican descent, to get the venture off the

ground. Essence, which publishes magazines aimed at African-American

women, now has a large stake in Latina Publications.

Circulation has grown with a force that could knock out boxer Oscar de

la Hoya. Guaranteed sales have doubled over the past two years. Current

guaranteed circulation is 225,000, which is on a par with Time Warner’s

People en Espanol. According to an Audit Bureau of Circulations report

for the year to June 1999, Latina was the fourth-highest gainer - up

60.8%, ranking it behind only Maxim, Official US PlayStation and Bike


’Latina reaches lots of women aged 18 to 35 who have a hard time getting

through other periodicals,’ says Jeffrey Kaye, minister of information

at Luaka Bop, the music label owned by David Byrne. ’Latina does it in a

very stylish way, that is lacking in other Latin magazines. People en

Espanol is really only interested in what’s big, while Latina is more

interested in quality. They did a piece on a Columbian band named

Bloque, which has a very upfront female member. We got a lot of response

from that.’

Latina is intended as a lifestyle guide for women with Hispanic


But unlike a mainstream women’s title, it includes heavy political


The magazine scored an early coup by snagging an interview with Fidel

Castro’s daughter. It also carries pieces about social issues, such as

abortion and how to understand the recent mass mailing by the Social

Security Administration.

’They don’t go for the fluffy stories,’ says Carmen Sepulveda, vice

president and director of PR at The Bravo Group agency in New York.

’They have to be relevant to their audience. We pitched a Kraft Foods

domestic violence initiative, which they wrote about.’

Yet Latina also boasts traditional beauty, fashion, travel and cooking

features, which run opposite full-page, Spanish-language ads from

Blockbuster, HBO and Target. Such a presence is a good indication that

advertisers have woken up to the fact that Hispanic buying power is

estimated at around dollars 348 billion per year.

Providing role models is an important part of Latina’s mission. But when

Jennifer Lopez, who appeared on the first issue of the magazine,

recently got caught up in a New York nightclub row, her arrest and

subsequent release was a hot topic in the Latina office. ’Jennifer has a

very close relationship with the magazine,’ says associate editor

Michelle Mulligan. ’People are very supportive of her. It is a shame

this happened, but it ended up being resolved.’

Latina is written in English but most of the editorial is accompanied by

Spanish translations. A readership survey found that most subscribers

prefer reading in English, though over 80% read and speak both


Stories and headlines such as ’Gentlemen Prefer Gorditas’ (Big Women)

have a sprinkling of Spanglish because ’we come from a mixed culture,’

explains Mulligan, whose mother is from Mexico.

’It has a strong sentimental meaning and is the language I grew up

with.’ But she admits there is pressure from readers to stop using

Spanglish in the English-language versions of the articles.

While Latina also aims to educate the reader about important aspects of

Hispanic history and culture, such as war anniversaries and traditional

recipes, there’s room for pitches that aren’t anchored to the


The travel section has been featuring various US cities and has followed

Latin American women to Alaska.

’It’s tricky trying to keep everything confined to the Latin

experience,’ says Mulligan, who adds that she wants to be briefed on hot

performers regardless of ethnicity.

Though the title is women-oriented, it also carries a section called

’Papi Chulo,’ or ’Our Finest Man.’ ’Men are intricately tied to our

lives and they read it too,’ says Mulligan. There is also an ’hombre’

section, which Mulligan looks after, and an annual men’s issue in


The staff is currently polishing off the March beauty issue, but April’s

special on working women is still being firmed up. A quick look at the

editorial calendar for the rest of 2000 reveals varied topics, from

May’s celebration of mothers to June’s brides special to August’s

scholarship/back-to-school section.

Mulligan says she is currently looking for suggestions for the annual

award for the most successful Hispanic woman of the year, which runs in

the September issue alongside a fashion trends special.

The high profile of the title has resulted in rival media eyeing its

talent. E!Online, InStyle and even the National Center for Public Policy

& Research in Washington, DC have all cherrypicked staff members. That

has resulted in a few gaps in the masthead. Until replacements have been

found, travel pitches should go to Robyn Moreno and health items to

Shana Smith.

Latin fever has crossed into the mainstream, courtesy of Ricky Martin

and others, but Mulligan feels it will die down to some extent and that

every decade has its Latin moment, such as the ’Latin Hustle’ craze in

the 1970s. But to show that something really has changed, she also

points to the statistics about Hispanics becoming the largest minority

group in America by 2005 and the fact that 11% of the US population is


’There’s a lot of us out there,’ says Mulligan. ’But we’ve always been

around with our Mexican food and Marc Anthony. It’s not new to us.People

are just recognizing what’s there.’


Latina magazine

1500 Broadway

Suite 600

New York, NY 10036

Tel: (212) 642 6000

Fax: (212 997 2553


Executive editor: Sylvia Martinez

Entertainment editor: Juan Mendez

Associate editors: Camille Mojica Rey, Michelle Mulligan

Associate fashion editor: Yesenia Alfaro

Beauty editor: Belen Aranda-Alvarado

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