Martin Alfaro, the director of business development for AL DÍA News Media in Philadelphia, was recently named one of LMA’s Sales Innovators of the Year. We caught up with Martin about his career journey and what he is most excited about in the local media industry.
Tell us a little bit about how you got into the industry.
In hindsight, my journey has been interesting but it all makes sense up to this point – it’s almost as if I have been following a journey that I didn’t know about.
I never saw myself working in news. Growing up, I had no reference, and I didn’t know anyone who looked like me in the media — not on camera and definitely not on the leadership side.
I attribute my involvement in media to a simple conversation with our publisher, Hernán Guaracao. This has led to a four-year journey of learning the ropes. I came to the newsroom with management experience but very little relevant experience to this work.
I credit Hernán’s vision of letting us learn by doing, exploring our creativity, and taking mistakes for what they are: learning experiences. All, of course, while guiding us with his wisdom and knowledge.
I encourage publishers to explore this tactic.
What makes you excited about the local media industry?
What’s exciting but troubling at the same time is that I still don’t see many leaders who look like me in this space. More and more Latino news organizations are disappearing, and while the need for more journalists of color continues to be a challenge, I think it’s more important to ensure diversity starts at the top and then it should naturally trickle down. We need more people of color, more Latinos, running media companies both on the editorial and business side.
I also think it is necessary to rethink Spanish language media or media directed to Hispanic consumers. Currently, the median age of U.S. Latinos is roughly 28, making us the youngest yet fastest-growing demographic in the country. This means that the average Latino consumer most likely is English dominant and consumes media in English first.
In the future, I believe the intersection between relevant content and culture will be more important than the Spanish language itself. I also believe that companies who continue publishing only in Spanish and producing content only relevant to older Latino generations will have a hard time staying afloat. Editorially, we need to revisit the type of content Latinos consume today; crime, celebrity gossip, and sports are less relevant today than they were when my parents were my age.
What keeps you up at night about the local media industry?
Three concerns: Access to capital, equity, and redefining “papers of record” across the country.
For the most part, corporations and advertisers are still unaware of the power of the Latino audience, which translates to low budgets and lack of understanding how to reach this audience.
As a result of the social injustice movement, necessarily so, there have been significant investments in communities of color. However, there’s a lack of equity when it comes to defining Black and Brown. The Latino community and other communities should be classified as such, we are just people. By categorizing these communities as the above, we are leaving out other communities that don’t have the same prominence in the market. Transparency will help with this challenge.
The Census Bureau gave us a lot of great data and information regarding the increase in diversity, and it only indicates that the country will become more and more diverse. It is now time to think about how funding for journalism is spent. Should the majority of the funds go to legacy media, or has that changed? I think advertisers and governmental entities should keep this in mind.
Where do you see AL DÍA being in the next 5 years? 10 years?
I love what I do, and I love the impact.
I see myself growing the team and our news company. I see myself as publisher or CEO of a news organization in less than five years. Beyond that, I have always had an interest in entrepreneurship, perhaps I decide to build something myself.
What makes what you are doing at AL DÍA special or unique?
My creativity, ability to work with all kinds of people, and my journey.
What are you most proud of that you or AL DÍA has done?
Besides all the amazing projects and the trust we’ve earned, I feel really good about what we have been able to deliver our clients and the difference we have made for countless community leaders across the nation. We truly deliver the “best of the American multicultural experience” — and people are noticing.