SEATTLE – Local ethnic media and representatives from the Census Bureau gathered in the Emerald City on December 8 to discuss the sector’s role in outreach to diverse communities about the 2010 Census. At the event, organized by New America Media, ethnic media emphasized the growing diversity in the Pacific Northwest, and questioned Census officials about the agency’s plans to advertise within the sector.
“We here assembled are the authorities of our own backyards,” said Sluggo Rigot of the Filipino-American Bulletin. “When Census wants to reach our communities, count us in as allies. Before they formulate any media mix, they should listen to us and get to know our constituency through us.”
The ethnic media outlets represented a wide spectrum of this area’s diverse ethnic and racial communities. The 2006-2008 American Community Survey reports nearly 17 percent of Washingtonians speak a language other than English at home. Of Seattle’s nearly 600,000 residents, more than a sixth are foreign-born.
Olga Kazakova of the Russian World newspaper said the Census Bureau should also do special outreach to “elite immigrants.”
“Many Russians are highly educated and they have high incomes,” said Kazakova. “They come here to work for Microsoft and Google, and they bring their wives and their parents. They have influence. Census should get these elites interested and involved.”
Ethnic media meet with U.S. Census representatives.
Some journalists asked how hard-to-count populations such as the migrant workers and exchange students would be counted.
Aside from those who move around within Washington, there is the issue of those who travel internationally.
“There are many in our community who do business in Asia, who go back there for long periods of times,” said Annie Malik of the Seattle Chinese Times. “How will they be counted if they are not here in March and April?”
Mohamed Sheik Hassan of the Africa Service Center, a newly formed coalition of local African media, said “this time” he hopes the Census will count his diverse African community.
“I remember living in New Holly [the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Seattle] during the 2000 Census and nobody came to our door,” said Hassan. “We waited and waited. There are the statistics that they have and the reality that is true.”
With Census officials and Draft FCB, the agency overseeing the Census 2010 advertising campaign, present, the ethnic media seized the opportunity to stress the importance of making media buys in their news outlets.
(U.S. Census representatives from left to right:
Ralph Lee, Seattle Regional Office Director,
Marilia Matos, Assoc. Dir. for Field Operations,
Michael Cook, Acting Branch Chief.
Assaye Abunie of Ethio Youth Media TV asked Census officials how to go about securing Census media buys.
“We’ve tried emailing Draft FCB and for a long time, we didn’t get any response,” said Abunie. “We were told to contact Global Hue and no response. We’re really underfunded. How do we position ourselves so that we can be funded?”
Half of the Census Bureau’s advertising budget is slotted for ethnic media. Michael Cook, Acting Branch Chief for Decennial Media Relations of Census, stressed advertising was only one part of the overall marketing and outreach campaign.
Draft FCB’s partner advertising agencies surveyed ethnic media for potential media buys this past fall. But some of the participants did not know about this questionnaire.
“We came to this meeting to hear about more resources and now we hear it’s too late. What are we supposed to do?” asked Abraham Kebede of Salon Ethiopia newspaper.
New America Media Executive Director Sandy Close assured the ethnic media present that NAM would do all that they can to help the participants secure media buys.
Ron Bevins and Maria Villalobos-Bevin, co-owners of KCJT, a free Spanish TV channel broadcast in Eastern Washington, were not aware of the media buy survey. They still hope to secure some advertising income from the Census Bureau.
“It’s one thing to advertise on the big three channels–Azteca America, Univision, and Telemundo—but there are a lot of other news outlets out there,” said Vilalobos-Bevins.
“A lot of people don’t have money to buy cable TV,” added Bevins. “And because we’re local, we’re closer to our audience.”