At a meeting with about 100 ethnic media outfits in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio expected to be confronted on immigration policies and questions about access to City Hall officials.
But the assembly, billed the first of its kind, which was held on Wednesday afternoon in City Hall’s Blue Room, served as a focus point for the dozens of reporters catering to the city’s ethnicities to complain about agencies not advertising in their publications.
“These advertising dollars are the thing that allow us to survive and thrive,” one reporter from a Spanish-language media company told de Blasio, who was joined at the dais with Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
The majority of the questions were related to questions why the city did not reach out to community press to get messages to residents, along with suggestions to improve getting information from City Hall.
Surrounded by placards touting his administration’s accomplishments such as pre-K and identification card for all New Yorkers, de Blasio said he would be responsive to the issues brought up and announced he was putting in place several new procedures to allow more access.
“I want you to know that the city is already starting the process of shifting advertising dollars,” the mayor said. “I mean, we’ll still be advertising in traditional media but we’ll be doing more for ethnic media as well.”
He laid out some of the figures for advertising in ethnic media outlets, saying that the city spent less than $400,000 in 2013, the year before he was elected, but he doubled that in 2014 to $861,000 and to $1.3 million for last year.
“We’re going to steadily increase that number,” he promised the attendees, which included outlets who cater to Chinese, African, Hispanic, Arab, Pakistani, Jewish and other communities.
He also said that three seats at “Room 9,” which hosts the City Hall press corps, will now be reserved for ethnic media.
Both the mayor and council speaker said they would see how they can be made available more often for community press.
According to a fact sheet distributed by the mayor’s office at the meeting, one out of three New Yorkers is an immigrant and residents speak more than 200 languages. Approximately a quarter of the populace, or 1.8 million people, are not fully proficient in the English language.