Veteran Journalist R. Paul Dhillon On The Ethnic Media Market

Veteran Journalist R. Paul Dhillon On The Ethnic Media Market

“I would say the days of MILK AND HONEY are gone as at one time these publications, especially the established ones were raking in a lot of money. Very good coin with the publishers taking home over $200,000 a year in salary and profits. The established ones are still doing well given they have agency and corporate accounts as well as community business. The new ones are not doing well. Many have been sued by printers for defaulting on payments,” says veteran journalist and media-PR expert R. Paul Dhillon.

Brand D Media: How Big Is The South Asian Media Marker In Greater Vancouver?

R. Paul Dhillon: There are about 10-12 Punjabi language weekly newspaper publication and about 4-4 English language South Asian publications with about 3-4 Glossy magazines that come out about every two months apart. Why are their so many – there are a number of them that are established from long ago but many have been started by ex-employees (sales people) who worked at one of the established ones and then moved on to start their own cause they know the market and vendors so they can just do it for themselves. To clarify, many of the Punjabi ones don’t even have a proper editor and are just scrambled together by publisher-sales person with little direction or value to readers other than filled with advertisements. That is the reality of many of the publications

BDM: Is there decent money to be made in ethnic media in BC, specifically as it relates to ?

RPD: I would say the days of MILK AND HONEY are gone as at one time these publications, especially the established ones were raking in a lot of money. Very good coin with the publishers taking home over $200,000 a year in salary and profits. The established ones are still doing well given they have agency and corporate accounts as well as community business. The new ones are not doing well. Many have been sued by printers for defaulting on payments. In fact, I think either Business in Vancouver have run lawsuit information about many of these defaulting publications. And the publishers simple bankrupt the company that owed and start a new company and find a new printer sometimes. For these new start-ups, its more like a self-created job or self-employment very small business – better than working for someone else.

Paul-awardsBDM: How has the market changed over the years?

RPD: One the most significant change is the increase of media – print, radio, TV and now internet-digital – in the community which has led to slashing of ad prices and cut throat competition where only the brand-name publications really do well. While the over all market has increased five to ten fold with increase in population, the increase in media outlets have killed any growth and in fact in some cases its an over-served, over saturated media market .

BDM: What types of advertisers do you usually work with, and has advertising taken a hit (as it has with most newspapers and magazines since the recession)?

RPD: We work with all corporate, agency, community and government ads. Yes the ad market has taken a big hit and continues to slide but what I mentioned earlier about too much media and too many organizations cutting each other is what is killing the print market in particular. But all media are suffering that way

BDM: Is it a competition problem, an advertising problem, something else?

RPD: The competition is a problem, the saturation is a bigger problem and it is an advertising problem too as more and more businesses are using online platforms which cuts into all types of advertising. It’s really hard to compete with the established media outlets in the community for advertising revenue, at least in the South Asian.

BDM: What about the established mainstream English papers trying to break into the ethnic market, for example the Vancouver Province with Vancouver Desi?

RPD: I personally think that Vancouver Desi was mostly a failure and that is the reason they shut it down eventually. They did have the traffic from the main Province paper but it wasn’t really seen by the community as a credible community publication or news outlet because it didn’t really have the community’s pulse. So their little success and eventual failure was limited by their narrow scope. They had some of the new generation visitors with some of their content but overall minimum impact.