Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Will 'Patch Latino' have success with Spanish speakers?

Latinos may still be on the losing end of the long-reported “digital divide,” less likely to have Internet access than non-Latino whites. But those who do have access will be getting their own version of Patch Network.

The AOL network of hyper-local news sites announced yesterday that "Patch Latino" is expected to launch in Southern California by the end of this year. From a post on Patch's Echo Park site:

While embodying the traditional Patch model of local news, community and information, the sites will also offer dedicated coverage of topics of special interest to the Latino population. All editorial content on the sites will be in Spanish.

It will be an interesting experiment. According to  Pew Hispanic Center report released earlier this year, Latinos lag behind both white and black Americans in Internet access. They are less likely to have a home broadband connection or a cell phone than non-Latino whites. They also lag behind black Americans in home broadband access, according to the report. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of white Americans went online in 2010, compared with 65 percent of Latinos and 66 percent of black Americans.

These differences even out with income and education levels, though. There's a generational difference as well, with 71 percent of U.S.-born Latinos (presumably English speakers) likely to have a home Internet connection, according to the Pew report, versus 45 percent of foreign-born Latino immigrants.

At the same time, it's the first generation, Spanish-dependent immigrants whose dollars are most stretched, and Spanish-language print media has suffered the same in the recession as have English-language print publications. Spanish-language publishers have similarly moving content online. And if anything, Patch knows how to keep production costs down.

Will Spanish-language hyper-local news sites fly with this targeted crowd? It will at least be amusing to hear the sites referred to as "El Parche."