Year One of Palacio Magazine: Telling Latino Stories That Matter
This week is Year One of Palacio Magazine. A year of telling Latino stories that matter. I remember when the first fresh copies of the glossy 32-page magazine were delivered. It was the Leadership issue. Mayor Robert Garcia was on the cover. Ten thousand copies, 200 in each box. Fifty boxes. The months of planning, writing, shooting interviews. The Photography. Editing. Layout.
Produced in partnership with Leadership Long Beach, the first issue showcased Latino Leadership in the city. It was part of our mission, telling Latino stories that matter. Long Beach again had a bilingual glossy publication that spotlighted Latino people and issues. We had inherited the Palacio brand from Andrea Sulsona and her magazine, Palacio de Long Beach. We set out to redefine the mission and goals and yet maintaining the same core principle, telling Latino Stories. That task has been challenging but it has also strengthened our commitment.
Long Beach, California is a city that likes to talk about its diversity. It proudly wears it in all its speeches and press reports. It’s nearly forty two percent Latino. That number combined with all the other non-white racial and ethnic groups and you have over seventy-percent of this city is composed of people of color.
Looking for Latino Stories
Every morning, I visit all the Long Beach based media sites. I’m looking for other Latino stories and other stories that reflect the diversity of the city. To repost and give me ideas for future ones. I try to also dig down and see who is writing that story. More often than not, the reality doesn’t reflect the city’s diversity.
This is not meant as a swipe at someone’s editorial or hiring decision-making process. It is what it is. There are plenty of stories that cut across racial, ethnic, cultural and economic lines. But as someone who has been involved in media access advocacy, nationally and locally, since the early seventies, I know and they know what I’m talking about.
When your stories and your staff don’t look like your news customers, then you’re not talking to someone who lives here. But then, with social media, who cares? Well, we should all care.
The Struggle to Spotlight Latino Stories
When I first became a radio host and producer in 1972, I was the only Latino at a Black Radio Station. I hosted and produced a Latin Music and Public Affairs show, La Causa Comun. The station management didn’t think twice when we made the proposal to them. They just wanted to know How fast we could get it on the air? They wanted to speak to a fast growing audience in the Greater Washington area. This is 1972.
When I went to work for a broadcast Television and Radio station in Washington, D.C., I was a paid trainee during a time when newspapers, radio stations and television newsrooms were trying to do the right thing. Making sure that they looked more like the real America.
Of course, some of it was not for selfless reasons. Lawsuits and the threat of them along with boycott and pickets and political and social pressures helped. All through my careers in media access advocacy and radio, television, journalism and yes, entertainment, we always were aware that those telling the stories were as important as the stories being told. For this publisher of Palacio Magazine, that long political struggle to tell Latino stories and those of other communities of color has been met with both resistance and acceptance.
This is not a radical concept for me and millions of others who have come through the mainstream media system. The media landscape has changed so radically since those early days. Everyone can be his or her own media mogul. Their own network. Their own production company. Telling Latino stories has never been easier. You really don’t need those other print and online platforms. You just need a wordpress theme, an internet connection, and a commitment that you’re going to tell those Latino stories and the stories of other communities that the others can’t. Or won’t. You also need money. But that’s another issues for another day.
Filling a Void
Palacio Magazine, first the print version and now the online platform, set out to fill a void that exists in Long Beach. We would take all those years of Andrea Sulsona, her Palacio de Long Beach and my many years of experience to tell the Latino stories that everyone else wasn’t telling. Spotlighting Latino people and events that somehow got lost in the other media’s in-boxes.
More importantly, Palacio Magazine wanted to be (and still does) a platform for those other voices (African-American, Cambodian, Filipino and all the other ethnic/cultural groups) that are not regularly heard in those other local media.
We don’t pretend to be a hot news outlet. If you’re chasing a fire, tracking the daily Long Beach shooting score or attending the latest ribbon cutting, that’s fine with me. It’s just not what we want to do.
Celebrating Latino Stories
Over the next weeks, we’ll revisit some of our stories from the past year. You’ll also see more stories from Long Beach Vote 2016, our joint project with CSULB Political Science students and their professor, Som Chounlamountry. We’ve got plenty of video and audio stories stuffed in our basement that we’re finally going to bring upstairs to the main room.
Our second year is a recommitment to our mission to Engage. Empower. Transform. We want to create a new and enhanced dialogue in Long Beach with Latino stories and those of the other communities of color in this city. We are not going to be satisfied with just saying that there is poverty in Long Beach. PalacioMagazine.com, as I now officially call it, will ask what economic policies will it take to raise people out of that state. What role will Education play in that mission? We want to know why young people shoot each other and what can be done about it. Gentrification. Affordable Housing. Empowering entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Not especially sexy stories or the kind of stories that attract a lot of advertisers. Kinda geeky.
Part of that dialogue includes Latino stories on Latin Music and Urban Dance and Arts. And Food. And let’s not forget all the stories about people who are out there going to school. Graduating this and next month. Going on to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, the next great entrepreneur. Latinos, African-American, and Cambodians who will not end up in a body bag or in a prison cell.
PalacioMagazine.com is a convergence of all the lives I’ve lived, the media I’ve worked, the national and community organizations I’ve been privileged to work in and with. I have a strong belief that there are thousands of Latino stories and the stories of the other communities of color in Long Beach that must be told. Long Beach is really one of the most diverse cities in America. We need to do more than talk about it. We need to live it.
Antonio Ruiz, Publisher/Executive Editor, PalacioMagazine.com