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Ethnic papers welcome new Queens residents

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By Betsy Scheinbart

First is a series

The celebrated diversity of Queens is reflected in the more than 50 ethnic newspapers and magazines published inside the borough that help immigrants from all parts of the world to assimilate while keeping in touch with their roots.

Thirteen Spanish-language and bilingual newspapers contribute to the largest group of ethnic papers in the borough, all based in western Queens. Asian papers, with five each in Korean and Chinese, come in as the second-largest group, most published out of offices in Flushing or Long Island City.

There are also seven Bangladeshi and four Greek papers run out of western Queens and four Caribbean papers based in Richmond Hill and Jamaica.

With the amazing diversity of Queens, small pockets of ethnic communities each support their own paper, including African, Arab, Armenian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Polish, South Asian, and Muslim publications.

Pakistanis have three newspapers, out of Jamaica and Long Island City, and Romanians have two, published in Rego Park and Forest Hills.

“We serve as a bridge to help new members of the community to build their lives here,” said Marco Liu, the executive editor of the World Journal, New York’s largest Chinese-language daily newspaper based in Whitestone.

The Spanish-language daily Hoy, published by Newsday in Rego Park, serves many longtime Hispanic residents of the New York area, said the publisher, Louis Sito.

“A lot of people that for years have acculturated and stopped speaking Spanish have come back (to the culture) because it is the ‘in’ thing and people want to go back to their roots,” Sito said of the so-called Latin explosion in American culture. “They want to reconnect with their language, ethnicity and country of origin.”

The Independent Press Association, headed in New York City by Abby Scher, recently released a guide to the city’s ethnic press, covering 198 magazines and newspapers.

“New York is the center of the ethnic press in part because of the business basis here,” Scher said. “They only exist because of the structure of the New York economy.”

In Queens, one out of four residents is Hispanic, the largest non-white population in the borough, according to the 2000 Census.

Not surprisingly, more newspapers and magazines are aimed at Hispanics than any other ethnic group in Queens. The 13 Spanish and bilingual newspapers and magazines have bureaus in Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside and Long Island City.

Most of the Spanish newspapers target the overall Hispanic community, but others such as Ecuador News out of Woodside and La Voz de Mexico out of Jackson Heights focus on one country of origin.

“If you look at the paper, it really tries to address every major national origin,” Sito said of Hoy. “We try to encompass the whole population instead of specific groups.”

With large numbers of Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Colombians and other Spanish-speaking people in Queens, newspapers like Hoy and the biweekly Latino’s, based in Jackson Heights, have much larger circulation than papers aimed at immigrants from one specific country.

Asian-language papers, including those published for Chinese and Korean communities, make up the next largest group of ethnic papers in Queens.

More than 17 percent of the borough’s population is Asian, with Chinese accounting for over 6 percent of the total and Koreans less than 3 percent, according to the 2000 Census.

The daily Chinese-language World Journal reports on news from Asia, particularly China and Taiwan, as well as from the United States.

“The contents are not much different from other newspapers,” Liu said, “but we have much stronger information on China, Taiwan and the rest of Asia.”

Five percent of Queens’ population is classified by the 2000 census as Asian Indian. Information on people from Bangladesh, formerly part of India, did not appear to be separated from Asian Indians in the 2000 census data available .

“We estimate 70,000 Bangladeshi people in New York City, mostly in Astoria, Jamaica, Ozone Park and Jackson Heights,” said Dr. Mohammed Wazed Khan, editor of the Weekly Bangladesh, one of the borough’s seven Bangladeshi papers, based in Jamaica. The others are in western Queens.

The newspaper offers news from Bangladesh, other world news, and New York City and state news, Khan said. It also has an English-language section.

Western Queens is also known for its large Greek population, an ethnic group that supports four newspapers in Astoria and Long Island City, including the National Herald, the largest Greek paper in the United States, which was founded in 1915.

Managing Editor Harilaos Daskalothanassis said the Herald allows Greek-Americans to keep in touch with news from Greece and Cyprus and to read world and national news from a Greek perspective.

“Greek-Americans are quickly becoming part of the fabric of American culture,” Daskalothanassis said, adding that the paper keeps them in touch with their home country.

African-Americans in Queens support the New Voice of New York newspaper, based in Jamaica, and Caribbean-Americans have four papers, including the Caribbean Journal, Guyana Monitor and sister publications from the island of Jamaica: the Weekly Gleaner and the Weekly Star.

Rounding out the multi-ethnic mix in Queens is North America’s only cricket newspaper, Cricket International and the cross-cultural DiverseCity newspaper, based in Sunnyside.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group