On February 8, 2017, the first of a quarterly series entitled Economic Development Forum kicked off with a presentation from Dr. Hayg Oshagan, Director of New Michigan Media (NMM)

HOshagan

Prof. Hayg Oshagan, New Michigan Media

New Michigan Media (NMM) is a network of ethnic and minority media across the state of Michigan, organized in 2006 by Professor Hayg Oshagan, director of NMM, at Wayne State University’s Department of Communication. The NMM network includes 100+ ethnic and minority media outlets in Michigan, which represent hundreds of thousands of readers, viewers and listeners in the Michigan media market.

Over forty-five attendees listened intently as Professor Oshagan discussed the need for a collaboration of the major ethnic newspapers in metro Detroit to come together to form this non-profit association. “Generally speaking, an ethnic group which has a minimum of 100,000 residents in a given area normally (should) have an ethnic publication” said Oshagan.

Founded over five years ago, this is a unique collaboration – the only one of its kind in the United States — of the five largest minority newspapers. There was potential for greater thinking and influence. These five leaders represent five independent operations with the ability to represent their respective communities individually, as well as collectively.
Michigan Chronicle: 40,000 readership, Arab American News: 40,000 readership, Latino Press: 35,000 readership, Jewish News: 35,000 readership, and Michigan Korean Paper: 20,000 readership. All weekly papers have a combined reach of 120,000 people which is the same as the Detroit News.  The newspapers are important to the communities they reach. Newspapers create a sense of community… they are the “mortar” for the foundation of these minority communities.

DSC_0528

Attendees at Economic Development Forum

The three objectives of NMM are:
1. Create a “louder voice” than each has on its own; to bring issues forward more broadly and to lead in this way.
2. To create a sense of commonality/solidarity. Minorities tend to live in their own silos and this collaboration enables them to get to know one another.
3. To have a place at the decision-making table.

Listen to what three major educational institutions said about the event:

“I am really inspired by Director Oshagan’s work in pulling together the diverse ethnic and minority community newspapers into a consortium. His work reminds us that our goal should not be tolerance, but the recognition that diversity is a strength to be celebrated and that integration is not just foreign born citizens learning about American culture, but all Americans learning, appreciating and helping to preserve the many diverse cultures of all nationalities,” said Douglas Smith, Executive Director, Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning, Oakland Community College.

Mayor Dane Slater, Hayg Oshagan, Ara Topouzian

Mayor Dane Slater, Hayg Oshagan, and Ara Topouzian

“At every Economic Development Forum event, I gain new insights and make new contacts. This is quickly becoming my favorite Troy Chamber event,” said Brenda Meller, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Walsh College.

“This was a very useful presentation!! Well worth the time to attend. Good Q&A session as well,” said John O. Young, Vice President, Communications & Marketing, Oakland University.

Mainstream media “don’t know how to cover minority communities,” Dr. Oshagan commented. While mainstream media focus on reporting objectively, ethnic media concentrate more on advocacy and activism, such as encouraging banks to invest more in minority businesses. NMM has published a statewide directory of approximately 140 ethnic and minority media outlets in Michigan. Dr. Oshagan said that while mainstream newspapers have shown dramatic declines in recent years, ethic newspapers have remained “more stable” because of the unique niche they fill for their target audiences.

“Once again the Troy Chamber provided an instructive forum with another outstanding presenter. Dr. Oshagan’s insightful discussion about the value of minority newspapers to their respective communities was eye opening. It was also uplifting and reassuring to hear about the positive impact the NMM is having on our region and state, an impact made possible by such a unique collaboration; we are fortunate to have this organization in our economic and cultural mix. The forum was relevant, timely, and beneficial, especially in a diverse city such as Troy,” said Ellen Hodorek, Mayor Pro Tem, City of Troy.

Fundamentally, these publishers help their minority audiences integrate without losing their identity. It’s not just about tolerance, but celebrating diversity as a strength.  Minority workers fulfill work gaps at the low end and high end. One of the examples Oshagan provided spoke of how Microsoft has to have a compound in Canada for the tech talent it needs for its Washington headquarters because immigration laws don’t allow for them to be the U.S.; it can be argued that fixing these laws and moving that compound here would be better for the U.S.

The 2017 Economic Development Forums are all held at Rehmann and open to all members. On an average, 45-50 attendees attend these series. The next forum will be May 17th and will feature Sue Mosey, Executive Director of Midtown Detroit.

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor: SMART and our event sponsor: Oakland University.

(A special thank you to Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Hodorek and Sandra Burgess, Burgess Strategic Marketing Services  for helping us with this recap!)