Like bees to flowers, media companies are flocking to the Hispanic market in anticipation that census data is going to show as many as 50 million Latinos in the U.S. population. The latest entry is Fox News Latino, a website that will go live early Tuesday morning.
Not a breaking-news site -- "We won't be refreshing the content every 10 seconds," says manager Francisco Cortes -- Fox News Latino will focus on longer features and analyses of news of particular interest to Hispanics. Among the stories it will cover this week: whether the political controversy over immigration will mobilize Latin voters next month. A campaign announced last week by entertainer Ricky Martin to garner Hispanic support for gay and lesbian rights. A look at the problems of Latino Muslims in the United States.
"We'll also have a story on how the Spanish-language skills of third- and fourth-generation Latinos decline so severely," says Cortes, 34, whose mother is from Puerto Rico. "That one really hits home for me. My own son will not speak Spanish. If I speak it to him in front of his friends, he acts embarrassed."
Cortes' son, though, won't have any problem reading the website: Though a portion of the site will be in Spanish, Fox News Latino will be mostly written in English. "We're trying to reach the second and third generations of U.S. Latinos," says managing editor Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, who grew up in Guatemala before getting undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ivy League schools. "We're aiming at Latinos whose first language is English, who inform themselves in English, who are deeply American, but share some of the cultural sensibilities of their parents or grandparents."
It's an audience that Fox News Latino bosses firmly believe is underserved. While the Internet is dotted with news and lifestyle sites aimed at U.S. Hispanics -- Univision, Telemundo, CNN and AOL are all major players in the market -- they're mostly in Spanish.
"Right now there's no exact competition for us," says Cortes. "No one else is targeting U.S. Latinos in English on-line, and we think it's a huge audience.'
What Fox News Latino isn't: a precursor to a Spanish-language television version of Fox News. Not yet, anyway. "That's nowhere in sight," says Cortes. "Though, trust me, it's in the back of my mind."