2 Latino weeklies merge

Mi Gente newspaper wants to become Charlotte's most-read Spanish-language paper.

The 6-year-old weekly tabloid said Tuesday that it's joining forces with media giant Norsan Media Group with a goal of becoming the undisputed leader of Latino news in the region.

There are at least six free Spanish-language newspapers in Charlotte. Three – Mi Gente, La Noticia and Qué Pasa – claim to be the most read.

As part of the merger, Mi Gente will absorb Norsan's 1-year-old Spanish-language newspaper, Hola Noticias. It also allows Mi Gente to immediately tap into the resources of Norsan's 10 radio stations.

Atlanta-based Norsan, with $106million in annual revenue, says the joint venture “creates the most powerful mass media Latino conglomerate in the Charlotte metro region, with print, radio and Internet outlets.”

“We have decided to invest in Mi Gente because it has persistently pursued a mission to offer excellent journalism and coverage of relevant issues to the Charlotte Hispanic Community,” Norberto Sanchez, chief executive of Norsan Media, said in a statement.

Rafael Prieto, publisher and editor of Mi Gente, said the paper has focused on immigration, politics and crime coverage. Combining resources with Hola Noticias, he said, will allow Mi Gente to greatly expand coverage of education, health and community services. Prieto said he'll take on a minority share in the new venture.

La Noticia circulates 26,000 copies from about 1,000 stores, restaurants and news racks in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, said Hilda Gurdian, La Noticia publisher. Qué Pasa distributes about 32,000 copies weekly from 580 distribution points in Charlotte, Gastonia, Monroe and the surrounding areas, Qué Pasa officials said.

Qué Pasa officials said they welcome more competition from Mi Gente.

“If we can't compete at the highest level and provide the highest quality product we will have to adapt so that we provide the highest quality product,” said Domingo Isasi, director of administration.

Mi Gente is distributed in 14 counties of North Carolina and South Carolina and has an estimated circulation of 25,000.

The paper has won six national Hispanic journalism awards in the past two years. Mi Gente will continue its 64-page format.