Juju Chang, ABC News anchor for Good Morning America, moderated, while speakers including Dr. Leobardo Estrada, associate professor of urban planning for the School of Public Affairs at UCLA; Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks; Patrick Esser, president of Cox Communications; Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA); Scott Mills, president and COO of BET Networks; and Laureen Ong, president of Travel Channel.
Dr. Estrada walked through some history of the Census and looked at some initial findings (though no official results yet) from the 2010 Census. One trend he predicted was that there will be a divide between high and low growth areas, as states such as Nevada and Utah will see growth stemming from increasingly diverse communities. Sixteen states will account for 90% of the US population growth, he said. Additionally, the graying of America and the diversity factor will be two huge issues coming out of the Census.
Estrada also touched on other issues that are affecting the multi-ethnic community, which may be highlighted with the Census data, including segregation of schools, now based more on rich versus poor; immigrant integration; and the plight of African-American men in prison.
"The media has a role in trying to deal with issues of diversity," he said.
The other panelists spoke about their particular companies and how they are dealing with the changing demographics.
Univision's Conde told attendees, "We have reached a critical mass in Spanish-language media and it is no longer a niche," noting how Univision was recently the most popular network among television viewers ages 18 to 49.
Esser noted how the younger generations are introducing their parents and family members to social media and technology. The younger generation may not have the spending power yet, he said, but they have the influence.Ong noted that a diverse workforce is a solid business decision for a company because "you can't be relevant if you don't understand that audience."
BET's Mills agreed: "Sophisticated entities understand that ethnic communities can be an engine of growth." The panel also discussed issues of segmentation, mobile use, and looking at the Census results.