More Dollars to Community Outlets in Year Two of NYC Initiative

  • By Center for Community Media
Three musicians perform in front of a mural outside a school.
Three musicians came together spontaneously on Saturday to provide live entertainment for a community meeting held outside Public School 49 about the future of the South Bronx. (Photo: Giselle Medina)

Community media in New York City received a record $15.6 million in city agency advertising in fiscal year 2021, an increase of more than $5 million from the previous year. This amount represents 82 percent of the $19.1 million total city’s print and digital budget for the year. More than 230 community media outlets received these funds, which helped compensate for the revenue losses suffered during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the result of an executive order signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2019 that sought to rectify a glaring inequity in how city agencies advertised.

In its first year, city government agencies spent an estimated $10 million – or 84 percent – of their total print and digital advertising in community and ethnic media, as we reported in our December 2020 independent report.

New York City approved a total of 282 print and digital community outlets to receive city government advertising in fiscal year 2021. Of those that received city ad money, the amounts ranged from about $500 for smaller publications to over $1 million. Eighty-four organizations received $5,000 or less, 72 received between $5,000 and $50,000 and 56 received between $50,000 and $150,000. Twenty organizations received more than $200,000.

Issued in May 2019, EO47 directed city agencies to spend at least 50 percent of their print and digital advertising budgets on community and ethnic media in New York City. CCM launched our Advertising Boost Initiative in 2020 to support the mayor’s office in this important effort, and to act as a liaison and resource for the community media publishers we’ve worked with for many years.

The success of EO47’s first year compelled dozens of New York City community and ethnic media publishers to launch an open letter campaign, calling for the executive order to be made into permanent law, and in June 2021, the New York City Council passed Local Law 83, permanently committing at least 50 percent of city government advertising to community media, and creating New York’s first ever Mayor’s Office of Ethnic and Community Media (MOECM), an office dedicated to strengthening the relationship between city government and ethnic and community outlets. The law further expanded the city’s equity outreach to include radio and television outlets citywide.

This update combines findings from our 2020 report with our independent analysis of city government agency advertising data from the Mayor’s Office of Operations for fiscal year 2021. New York City has more than met the obligations outlined in the mandate. City government advertising has become an increasingly important source of revenue for outlets, many of which saw significant increases in their city funding from fiscal year 2020 to 2021. This has alleviated pressures on this media sector which has been struggling with dwindling advertising dollars, intense competition from well-funded media conglomerates and the 2020 pandemic which has caused many outlets to disappear.

In fiscal year 2021, 30 of 33 city agencies spent at least 50 percent of their print and digital advertising in community and ethnic media, as mandated by EO47. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) spent by far the most, $8.47 million of the $15.6 million spent by city agencies in total. Most agencies spent much more than the required 50 percent. Eight agencies spent 100 percent of their print and digital budgets on community media.

The Community News Group, Mishpacha Magazine and El Diario were top recipients of DOHMH ads. Health + Hospitals spent the second highest amount, $1.8 million. The third highest spender was the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit (PEU) which paid more than $800,000 on community advertisements.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS) and the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) increased their community ad spending significantly. NYCHA spent 16 percent of its print and digital advertising budget in 2020 and 100 percent of its budget in 2021. MOCS spent 31 percent of its budget in 2020 and 100 percent of its budget in 2021. DPR spent 50 percent of its budget in 2020 and 94 percent of its budget in 2021.

In fiscal year 2021, more than 230 outlets from the city list of approved 282 community print and digital outlets received funding from New York City agencies. A majority of news organizations from the advertising recipients saw considerable increases in ad revenues compared to fiscal year 2020. In fiscal year 2022, 357 community media outlets, including broadcasters, will be eligible to receive city advertising.

The Community News Group, El Diario, Staten Island Advance, El Especial, New York Amsterdam News, Mishpacha Magazine, and World Journal saw the largest increases in advertising dollars.

In fiscal year 2021, more than 180 outlets received additional advertising revenues from city agencies compared to fiscal year 2020. Sixty news organizations had their city ad agency revenue increase by 100% or more while more than 100 had increases of 50% or more. Forty-three saw increases between $10k-$30k, 14 saw increases between $30k-$50k, 26 saw increases between $50k-$100k, 16 saw increases between $100k-$250k. Four received more than $250k additional advertising dollars. Forty-eight news organizations received less ad money, with a median decrease of a little more than $4,000.

Two years after its 2020 launch, the ABI program, created to act as a liaison between community media outlets and city agencies, continues to serve as a consultative resource to help more than 90 outlets prepare for city advertising, and to keep them apprised of upcoming city advertising campaigns.

More than 60 outlets in the ABI program saw an increase in city ad revenues in 2021 compared to 2020. More than 20 saw increases over 100%. Four ABI participants that didn’t receive any money in 2020 received ads from the city in 2021. In total, ABI participants received $2.5 million more than in fiscal year 2020.

While most of the ABI participants did see an increase in ad spending in fiscal year 2021, there are some outlets that did not get advertising at all. ABI has been communicating with these publishers to understand why they have yet to successfully secure advertising. In fiscal year 2022, ABI will provide them with training and help them create a channel of communication with the newly-created MOECM.