Questions & Answers

Do you have any comments about Zona Latina? Do you need any information about anything that you see? Please send your e-mail to our webmaster. Selected questions/answers will be posted on this page, in chronological order.


#44.  SUBJECT:  Non-working links
WHEN:  January 10, 2002
EMAIL (SPAM):  "A link on one of your pages is not working.  We can offer you a service to automatically check that all your links are working ..."
COMMENT:  Since we carries several thousand links from our website, it is no surprise that some of them are not working at any moment.  Unfortunately, non-working links are not just limited to the 404 error of unreachable URLs.  Increasingly, when websites go out of business, their URLs are sold to other websites such as domain registers, online casinos and pornographers.  Periodically, we have to manually click thorugh all our links and examine the content.  Since this is a slow manual process, our users may experience the occasional annoyance of non-working links.


#43.  SUBJECT:  Kidnapping
WHEN:  August 30, 2001
EMAIL:  "Hi, I just wanted to tell you that the Salsaben.com, the Israeli latin music magazine, has kidnapped one of your web pages, adding Hebrew annotations!" 
COMMENT:  It looks so cute ...


#42.  SUBJECT:  Web design
WHEN:  August 29, 2001
COMMENT:  As an not-insignificant Latin American portal, we get quite a few proposals from web design firms located all over the world (even from Ukraine).  Visually, ZonaLatina.com is an 'under-designed' website that does not look 'cool', and must therefore represent a good and logical business prospect for web designers.  We have never even responded to any of these proposals.  Philosophically, if we had a dollar to spend, we would have used it to build content and not for design enhancement, because we believe that is what our users are looking for.  In the following, we have 'kidnapped' a posting on another website: 

It starts with the fact that those who go into the design profession [sic] are basically incapable of building anything at all. Rather they prefer to stylize the things other people make, and then convince themselves that they’re really bringing some kind of value that no one else is capable of.

So predisposed to contributing nothing to humankind they attend design school to learn to hone their alchemical skill. They learn how talk about their stylizations, and how to cloth their worthless practices in masturbatory rhetoric. Design school fills their heads with ridiculous notions of their importance. "We are integrative, synthetic thinkers; we invent answers where others merely discover them," design school says. "Now go and make some letters dance around the screen with Flash and you will be ready to formulate business strategy on an enterprise level." $40,000 can buy you some of the choicest smelly bullshit.

Design rhetoric usually generates an enormous amount of enthusiasm in potential clients too, because it is essentially meaningless, allowing them to project all their wants and desires into the empty vessels of design speak.

Unfortunately for the designer, rhetoric can satisfy customers for only so long. Eventually the customer wants to see something--they want the designer to fulfill the expectations their rhetoric had raised in the first place. This of course is where everything starts to fall apart. This is where the designer comes face-to-face with the horrible truth that dancing letters and noxious hot-air about integration and synthesis are light-years away from what the customer is actually paying them for (and what they are actually capable of producing is still further away).

And so solid clients take their money and leave. Less solid clients, clients who were depending on the designer to help them survive, go out of business.

Now since designers are largely lemmings, lacking any critical or individual thought and prone to the most ostentatious groupthink of any profession [sic] this dynamic has occurred almost simultaneously in dozens of firms with a strong design bent. Take for example Viant, Scient, Organic, March1st, Concrete Media, Method, Zefer, RazorBitch, Red Sky, Agency.com—more names than you likely want to read.

Nothing however is changing in design school, and the same kinds of people are still enrolling. The only thing that is different now is that no one wants them. They cannot blame the economy; the mild recession is not what killed their job prospects. What has killed their job prospects is the fact that their bullshit has caught up with them, and everyone can smell it.

I know this from the inside. I have a degree in design. Fortunately I also have a lot of experience outside the design world that has helped me weather the storm. Avoid design school kids—it will make a bad situation worse.


#41.  SUBJECT:  Thank you note
WHEN:  July 30, 2001
EMAIL: "Just wanted to say that I have been using your site for the last 3 years and after browsing through again today, once again came to the conclusion that it really is THE best media resource on Latin America out there. Fantastic work and thank you for maintaining it with so much interesting, relevant and new information."


#40.  SUBJECT: SirCam virus/worm
WHEN:  July 28, 2001

COMMENT:  The SirCam virus/worm is transmitted by email. The text of the email is usually something like

Hi! How are you?
 
I send you this file in order to have your advice
 
See you later. Thanks

And sometimes in Spanish as:

Hola como estas ?

Te mando este archivo para que me des tu punto de vista

Nos vemos pronto, gracias.

By itself, the text is harmless.  However, the email contains an attachment.  Opening that attachment will result in a rogue program sending messages to everyone in the Outlook address book as well as to any email addresses found in the web browser cache, in addition to possibly destroying files on the computer.  As an enduring tribute to the popularity of this website, we received hundreds and hundreds of this piece of email from people that we have never heard of or imagined, because our email address appears on our home page which was kept in the web browser caches of our visitors.  While it is good to know that we are popular, we are not sure that this is the best way to find out ...

Postscript (12/6/2001):  This is about six months after this virus surfaced initially.  This week, we have been getting hundreds of this email virus everyday (sometimes, at the rate of 30 per hour) from someone named "degani tzvi" in Israel.   When we tried to alert him by email, we get a message from his ISP: "The mail quota for this account has been exceeded for the day."  That figures!  Meanwhile, the tidal wave continues to come in ...


#39.  SUBJECT:  Listing a site on Zona Latina
WHEN:  June 23, 2001

Question:  Please tell me how I can get my site listed in your directory.  How much will it cost me?

Answer:  What an astonishing question!?  The short answer is, "It costs nothing!"  The longer question is, "Why are you even asking?"  The answer to this longer question must be that there are other sites (such as GoTo.com and Yahoo.com) where you can pay for specific positions when certain keywords are typed into their search engines; conversely, if you don't pay, you won't get listed.  To our minds, this is utterly unethical.  We are here to supply our users with the most complete and accurate information that we have.  So if you have a site that you feel is appropriate for us to list, just tell us and we will list it FOR FREE!


#38.  SUBJECT:  Latinos in America
WHEN:  June 10, 2001
EMAIL (unedited):

 "This is not a racist or hate mail.  If you do not accept it then maybe you shouldnt be running this site. Why doesnt your site teach these latino pigs to keep the environment clean. latino idiots no matter where you go create filth, decay and diminished quality of life. Dont you guys realize this. And then you all are proud of your culture. What culture?
My neighborhood used to be a pretty and beautiful place to live. This whole neighborhood is LITTER ridden. Have you taken a walk along city streets habitated by latinos lately especially weekend evenings. These idiots who claim to be proud of their culture are uncivilized at best. My area becomes so dirty, It clearly looks like a third world country. Guess how the neighborhood will look like if most residents are from the third world. Every day I notice countless amigos throw garbage on the streets with little regard for basic civility. This shows the overall character of the general population of Hispanics.
Give some space on your site to teach these environmentally ignorant sloths to make sure that we are human beings and should live like one. When they buy chips, chewing gum, soda cans...These should go in the garbage cans. If they are full maybe they should have the courtesey to take it to another one to dispose it off. No wonder Latino immigrants arent welcome as much. The residents know that their well kept neighborhood will become another corner urinated, garbage accumulated Barrio. This doesnt happen overnight, But surely over time it does. This is how the whole country will be heading in the next 500 years...
No wonder the neighborhood property values diminish. Your media, music, newspapers and schools should devote some portion of their contents educating these environment degraders on the virtue of keeping their city streets and area clean. Start with the babies and kids.
Society will give respect when they find certain people live a certain way. Simply by Loudmouthing your culture and how proud you are of it does not cut it......
Comprende Amigo"

COMMENT:  The ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) defines racism as follows:  “Any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment, or exercise, on equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, or any other field of public life.”    Therefore, racism includes the act of imputing stereotypical behavioral characteristics to an entire group of people based upon ethnicity alone.


#37.  SUBJECT:  The Central American earthquake (January 13, 2001)
WHEN:  January 15, 2001
E-MAIL: I want to thank you for posting a set of links on  your home page to allow people to access information about this seismic event.  I must say that it was with a great deal of sadness that I followed the rising casualty counts from the Comité de Emergencia Nacional (COEN) at El Diario de Hoy.  This is one moment when the World Wide Web shows how useful it can be to provide critical information to people all over the world.


#36.  SUBJECT:  A note of appreciation
WHEN:  January 4, 2001

More than three years ago, we had published a document that explains the process by which Zona Latina goes about compiling its directory of media websites in Latin America.  In the years that have gone by since, we believe that we have continued to do the best job in maintaining the broadest and most interesting media directory for the region.

As we had indicated before, we rely partially on individual media websites to inform us of their existence.  Since we are one of the better known media directories, many websites will inform us when they come into being.  Still, we have to say that the majority of our new listings are obtained through our own efforts in searching the national websites ourselves.  The truly pleasant exceptions are that we receive packets of update information from individuals, whose contributions are voluntary and whose sole interest is to see that useful and correct information is being distributed to all web users.  Here is some information on one of our favorite contributors.

Name: Rodrigo "Alley'Gator" Hunrichse
Home: Concepción, Chile
Home page: http://pagina.de/alleygator  

Links to television sites: http://www.ing.udec.cl/~rhunrich/tv/tveninet.htm 
Links to radio sites: http://www.ing.udec.cl/~rhunrich/radio/radio.htm 

When you visit his website, you get the impression that the website is highly utilitarian, meticulously detailed and a labor of love.  Does he have anything to say to you?  He said, "You can do it too!" 


#35.  SUBJECT:  BigWhat.com
WHEN: December 20, 2000
MESSAGE:  We are sending you this notice because your site WWW.ZONALATINA.COM is listed in the search engine at BigWhat.com and has been TEMPORARILY DEACTIVATED FROM OUR SEARCH LISTINGS.  We are finishing a final database update to insure our users see only complete and accurate search results.  Please click below to view your free listing as it currently appears to our users and verify we have you listed correctly: http://bigwhat.com/asp/s3.asp?url=WWW.ZONALATINA.COM.  When this is complete, take a moment to learn how your site can instantly be the #1 search result our users see when they perform a search for keywords which relate to your website!  Call us today with any questions! We have real live human beings here to assist you between 9am and 6pm EST.

COMMENT:  There are many things to be said about this message:
(1)  What kind of search engine would deactivate perfectly active websites while they complete a database update?  Obviously one which is not interested in providing its users with the best information that it could have.
(2)  What kind of search engine would offer websites to be the #1 search result?  Obviously, the implication here is that you can get to the top of the list irrespective of the actual merits of your website by some untoward means (such as paying your way?).
(3)  What kind of search engine would handle inquiries by telephone (between 9am and 6pm, Eastern Standard Time, USA)?  Obviously an old economy company that is still clueless about using e-mail to communicate.  P.S.  It would have helped to list the telephone number in the message.
(4)  What kind of search engine would offer real live human beings as assistants?  Obviously one that assumes that the few people on the telephone bank are domain experts and judges in all conceivable categories.
(5)  Finally, how 'complete and accurate' are the results (as of 12/21) from this search engine?


#34.  SUBJECT:  Search engine performance
WHEN:  November 17, 2000
E-MAIL:  "Congratulations! Someone has just performed a 'web search' at the HootingOwl Search Engine using the search term

latina cheerleader pics

and your web site (http://www.zonalatina.com) is being displayed on the first page of search results.  To further enhance the ability for HootingOwl to promote your web site, please visit http://www.hootingowl.com/ and also enter your web site as a FREE listing into the 'HootingOwl Directory'.  This is a simple and quick one click process that could ultimately create valuable traffic to your web site."

COMMENT:  Given that the word 'cheerleaders' does not appear anywhere on our website, it is a mystery as to why we ended up being displayed so high. Furthermore, we do not think that our content is what this particular searcher is looking for, because the same search term on other search engines (such as Google.com) produced tens of thousands of lustily more salacious websites appropriate to the intent.  We must therefore conclude that this particular search engine requires more work.


#33.  SubjectEl Chapulín Colorado, El Chavo & Chespirito
DATE:  October 24, 2000

Question:  In searching the World Wide Web for El Chavo, I located a translation of one of your articles into Spanish, but without any acknowledgements.  I don't know about you, but I would not have considered that as being a fair use.

Answer:  Perhaps.  But we are not necessarily here for fame and fortune, and we find it sufficient reward to have a broader audience for our point of view.


#32.  Subject:  Zona Latina's Music Page
DATE:  August 14, 2000

Question:  On your home page, you add the description '(600+ links to original sites)' after your Music page.  What does the word 'original' mean in this context?

Answer:  Most of our links on that page are to musicians' sites.  In that context, 'original' indicates official sites for these musicians.  To put it in another way, we have made the decision not to include any unofficial sites unless they are truly exceptional.  As with most of our design decisions, we did this out of our personal experience and preference in obtaining information.  

On the music pages of other portals, we were often frustrated by having to wade through large numbers of poor quality sites that are poorly conceived, shoddily implemented, shallow in content, never updated and often broken.  We have therefore made an effort to screen for quality.  Of course, there is no guarantee that original sites are always better but we believe that most musicians should recognize that their websites are important intellectual assets that define their brand equity.


#31.  Subject: TV CHISMES
DATE:  June 28, 2000

Question:  I recently came across this page at tvchismes.com.  I think they've kidnapped one of your pages!

Answer:  We looked at that site and read the opening statement: "No somos responsables por el contenido de esta pagina ya que no esta hecha con afan de perjuriar ni levantar falsos testimonios,. El proposito de este sitio para brindar entretenimiento a nuestros visitantes a costa de las figuras públicas de la TV. Unicamente publicamos lo que ha sido dicho o escrito por otros medios de difusion. Si te ofende el contenido de este sitio entonces vete a DISNEY y ciao! Si decides navegar estas paginas hazlo a tu propio riesgo."  We think it is so unfair that Disney should get all the referrals ...


#30.  Subject: LatinDoll.com Hotsite Award 
From:  Latin Doll.Com
DATE: May 9th, 2000
MESSAGE: 

Dear Webmaster: Zona Latina has been selected the LatinDoll.Com "Hot Site" Award Winner for the week of May 14-20. This award is given to sites which display a combination of Originality, Content and Design. The winning site is selected each week by the staff of LatinDoll.Com.

We selected Zona Latina for the comprehensive content about Latin American media.

The announcement will be made in our LatinDoll Newsletter (2,000 subscribers) tonight (May 9, 2000) and your link will be posted on the LatinDoll.Com HotSite Award page


#29.  Subject: Latin Trade review of Zona Latina, February 2000

Latin Trade review, February 2000

Comment: Of course, we regard this as a terrific compliment.  But we wish that they would point out that is the one of the very few media-related directories to provide a significant amount of content of its own.  That is what we regard as our irreplacable asset.


#28. Topic: Café con Aroma de Mujer (01/24/2000)

Question: As much as I enjoyed your recent article about Coffee in Colombia, I am puzzled by the inclusion of the poster for the telenovela Café con Aroma de Mujer.  Is there any meaning beyond the word café?

Answer: Let us just quote a beautiful and elegant paragraph from the book Remaking the Nation: Place, Identity and Politics in Latin America by Sarah Radcliffe and Sallie Westwood, Routledge: New York, 1996 (p. 89):

Telenovelas like the Colombia Café and others from Brazil, Mexico and Argentina offer a vision of the historical and social development of a specific nation-state drawing the viewer into a story which becomes a form of cultural capital and which interacts with historical time and the geographic and social space of the nation.  This was transparent in Café where viewers could immediately connect with the sign Café as a signifier of Colombia and the political and economic importance of coffee in the past, present and future of the country.  Yet these dramatized histories were organized around the production values which emphasize visual impact and human interest stories, basically seduction and betrayal in love or business.  Nevertheless, Café offered a 'telespace' shared by millions at the same time week after week, in which Colombians engaged with a vision of their past and present society --- a powerful form of interpellation.  Despite little attention paid to the plantation workers, issues of exploitation and racism, it is possible to view the main narrative as a tale in which the poor and dispossessed (embodied in the main female character Carolina) were 'represented' and shown to be active in their attempts to right injustice and claim a space in the nation.


#27. Topic: Yahoo.com (01/03/2000)

Question: I know that websites get visitors by being linked from other websites, especially big ones.  How come your website is not listed on Yahoo > Regional > Regions > Latin America > News and Media?

Answer:  Unfortunately, some people believe that web directories are in a competitive business.  We have indicated our presence to Yahoo.com numerous times, and they have never even acknowledged us.  Of course, that is their prerogative, but it is clear that they do not have the interests of the web users in mind.  

Our website holds to a diametrically opposite philosophy, and we act in the interest of providing the most complete information.  For example, if you look at the 'General Resources' section of our newspaper page, we list every reasonably large and/or useful Latin American newspaper listing that we find.  You will note that Yahoo.com is not there because it cannot be considered to be 'reasonably large and/or useful'.


#26. Topic: Music Page (10/22/99)

Question: I know that you have a page on Latin American music, but I cannot find any reference to it anywhere on your site.  Why?

Answer:  Yes, we do have a Latin American music page.  Once upon a time, we built this page in the same way that we compiled our media links (see discussion).  As it turns out, this page was significantly more difficult to keep up to date.  Many of the resources were maintained by amateur fans.  Sometimes these were created while they were affiliated with academic institutions, and are disconnected when they move on.  Sometimes these were created on those dreaded geocities, xoom, angelfire and other similar sites, and disappear rather quickly.  While our music page still exists because there are external links pointing to it, we have not made any fuss about it ourselves.  It simply does not have the accuracy or coverage that our media pages have.

The larger problem is that not many Latin American musicians appreciate the importance of their Internet brands.  The World Wide Web is the most efficient and effective means for them to reach a pan-Latin American audience.  If they have not already done so, then they need to assume control of their brand name (e.g. www.???????????.com for a musician named '???????????') and control their own destinies.


#25. Topic: Inquiries to Zona Latina (10/15/99)

Question:  We noticed that this section of the website is not updated as frequently as the others.  Does this mean that nobody asks you any questions?

Answer: Not at all.  We get lots of inquiries, ranging from inquiries about our business organizational structure and our web contents to all sorts of unimaginable topics.  We handle most of them directly, as we do not feel that it was necessary to publish the Q & A for the general public.  Here are some examples of questions that we have handled (to the best that we can) recently:


#24. Topic: Brazilian overload? (9/10/99)

Question: These days, your New & Different listing of new web sites appears to be heavily skewed towards Brazilian sites?  What is going on?

Answer: We have no selective editorial policy as such with respect to those listings.  We just list what we find, and therefore what  you observe reflects what is happening out there.  The fact of the matter is that the Internet develops unevenly in space and time.  In 1998, we saw a surge in web sites from Argentina.  In 1999, we are seeing a huge surge in new web sites from Brazil in the media area.  By comparison, the growth rate in other counties (e.g. Mexico) is slower.  In the case of Brazil, the current growth is particularly strong in São Paulo state, which now has over 60 newspaper listings and 40 radio listings.  The presence of the media-rich Internet service/content provider UOL in Brazil may have a lot to do with this.


#23. Topic: Zona Latina Ownership Question (9/5/99)

Question: I have been a longtime visitor to your website.  I recently noticed that you are now owned and operated by a web design company known as Content Rules.  Can you tell me what is happening?

Answer:  The web site Zona Latina was originally established by the marketing research company Audits & Surveys Worldwide in 1996 to support its Latin American syndicated study, Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamérica.  As such, the web site has always served a secondary role and was never regarded as a business enterprise in itself.

In mid-1999, Audits & Surveys Worldwide decided not to field the next Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamérica study, thus nullifying the original reason of existence of Zona Latina.  In August, the ownership of the web site was turned over to the web design company, Content Rules.  This decision was based upon several considerations.  

  1. Web content design/maintenance is the core business of Content Rules.  Therefore, Content Rules will be able to provide a professional-grade, high-quality web service.
  2. Content Rules will treat Zona Latina as a business entity in its own right, not as a secondary by-product.  This will permit us to identify and obtain the resources needed to improve the web site.  This will include financing, strategic partnerships, advertising support, sponsorship, bartering, and so on.
  3. Content Rules belongs to the original (and the only one) webmaster of Zona Latina.  This is the most qualified person to continue the operations by virtue of his experience and knowledge.
  4. The distinguishing mark of Zona Latina is the strong brand personality.  Compared to this web site, other Latin American portals are highly impersonal.  Zona Latina is one of the few web sites that are endowed with human dimensions ("intelligent", "witty", "caring", "subversive", "erudite" are some of the attributes that have been used by people to describe Zona Latina), which is a distinguishing mark of the work of Content Rules.

#22. Topic: Books Reviews (8/23/99)

Question: From your book review section, I must say that you have an unusual reading list.  How do you go about choosing your reading material?

Answer (from an unabashed lover of books): We consider ourselves to be the book publishers' dream consumers.  Roughly speaking, if you have the guts to publish a book about Latin America, we will probably buy it.  Often, we would just go down to our local Barnes & Noble superstore and scan through all the books in the Latin America section, picking up any that we have not seen before.  (Unfortunately, we don't have perfect memory and so we sometimes end up with multiple copies of the same book.  That is usually bad because the book was likely to be unmemorable.)  Worst yet, we will sometimes purchase books sight unseen through Internet bookstores.  Our favorite site is:

Amazon.com

Apart from our love for books (and if you have looked at our website carefully enough, you will conclude correctly that we will read any book ...), we simply want to read everything about Latin America.  Now we are not as undiscriminating as that sounds, for we like some books more than others.  And not all publishers are the same (note: we love the Latin American series from Duke University Press).  When some book strikes a chord with us (and you will note that we listen to some very strange music), we will write a book review.  The number of books that we have reviewed is a small fraction of what we have read.  

Although some people say that book publishing is dead in the age of the Internet, we regret to say that the obituary is very much premature.  Nothing on the World Wide Web can match the many books that we have enjoyed.  Book reading is a qualitatively different experience from web browsing.

P.S.  If you are a publisher of Latin American books, you may want to send your books to us for review.  Contact webmaster@zonalatina.com .  We promise that we will read them, but we cannot guarantee that we will publish any reviews.


#21. Topic: Plagiarism? (6/2/99)

Question: I came across this page of newspaper links from Cyberush (in Argentina), and it looks remarkably similar to the Zona Latina page of newspapers link.   What do you think when you see something like this?

Answer: We have looked at the page that you referred to, and we agree that the similarity is more than sheer coincidence.  It is true that they have put in some extra cosmetic work in translating everything into Spanish, rearranging some sections and breaking up the Argentine newspapers by province.  However, they have retained other identifying characteristics, including the four stars that we give to our favorite newspapers.

How do we feel?  If you read our own story, you will see that we firmly believe that directory listings are in the public domain and cannot be regarded as proprietary information.   After all, we had compiled our own directories from other sources too.  So we believe Cyberush is entitled to do what they are doing.

Having said that, we must say that wholesale copying without any additional intellectual contribution is a bit rude.  This is especially worse when the plagiarist has no intention of updating the information (see, for example, the Avanti (Colombia) tv links page which has been carrying a two-year-old copy of the Zona Latina cable/satellite broadcaster page.)  This damages the interests of users who have the right to get the best information available to them, but are offered multiple incomplete copies from all over.


#20. Topic: Inventing Ireland (5/3/99)

Statement: I came across a review by Thomas Flanagan in the New York Times Review of Books of the book Inventing Ireland by Declan Kiberd with the following words "... impudent, eloquent, full of jokes and irreverence, by turns sardonic and conciliatory, blithely subversive but, without warning, turning to display wide and serious reading, generosity of spirit, a fierce and authentic concern for social and political justice."  I thought you'd like that ...


#19. Topic: Number of Internet Users in Latin America (2/18/99)

Question: I can understand that you are a marketing research company that collects intelligence data to be sold for profit. As such, you cannot be expected to just give away information for free all of the time. But I just want to know one number, "How many Internet users are there in Latin America?" Can you please help?

Answer: Unfortunately, the question "How many Internet users are there in Latin America?" has multiple possible answers. Here are some (and by no means the only possible ones, either) standard answers for which we actually have solid numbers:

  1. The number of Latin Americans who can access the Internet (by any means, including home, office, school, public sites, other people's homes, etc)
  2. The number of Latin Americans who can access the Internet from home.
  3. The number of Latin Americans who have accessed the Internet from home within the last 3 months
  4. The number of Latin Americans who have accessed the Internet from home within the last 7 days

Depending on how you define the Internet user, you can end up with significantly different numbers. For example, we know that answer # 1 above is about three times larger than answer # 4 above. Any presentation of Internet size estimate(s) should be accompanied by a careful discussion of the definitional issues.

We know that, in the past, we have offered our study on an all-or-nothing basis. But there is a significant number of people out there who are interested only in selected portions of our study for which they are not willing to pay the full price. For that reason, we are now offering the The Los Medios Book series to deal with specific topics, including the Internet.


#18. Topic: The Eternal Battle --- Rio versus São Paulo (2/17/99)

Question: Hi, I'm from Rio and when I go to your magazine page, there's nothing but Paulista magazines listed for Brazil. What's going on here?

Answer: We compile our links from every and any source that we know about. Our motto is, "If it's there, we'll link it." So if you know of any other links, just let us know.  We will link to any magazine website.  There is nothing that we can do to redress any imbalance of Rio-São Paulo.


#17. Topic: Cable/Satellite Television Networks (11/12/98)

Question: In reading your page of Cable/Satellite Television Network links, I have the impression that you have a mixture of networks, some of whom are commercial in nature and others are not-for-profit, some of whom are doing business in Latin America and others do not even operate in Latin America. Can you clarify your rules?

Answer: Our list was compiled over time by scanning cable guides all over Latin America. Every of these networks had been listed somewhere sometime somehow. Our mission is to provide a resource guide for people who need to find out about the channels, irrespective of whether they are commercial or not, or whether they operate in Latin American or are otherwise being shown with or without their permission.


#16. Topic: Book Reviews (10/20/98)

Question: I've enjoyed reading the book reviews that are posted on the web site. I'm particularly taken by the willingness to draw attention to the newspaper cronicas of Clarice Lispector. Her book is not the run of the mill item on media reading lists. My impression is that the reviews have been written in-house. What is it about corporate culture that prides anonymous authorship? Somebody in your organization is reading interesting books. Why not give them credit by printing their name? Are you interested in publishing reviews that aren't in-house evaluations?

Answer: I am very pleased to hear from you, as a note of this nature is what this more rewarding than just something that one does for pay. This statement does require some explanation, if you will bear with me. First of all, the anonymity of the book reviewer is not the result of corporate culture or policy. Unless otherwise credited, most of them are done by one individual (me!) in his spare time.

In the beginning, I had been vaguely charged with the task of running a web site that would establish the company as a leading research company in Latin America media. No further details were specified. There are some obvious expectations, such as a collection of links to Latin American media resources and descriptions of the research data. Beyond this, I had a certain degree of freedom to do as I please. So I figured that I might as well as get some personal enjoyment out of this.

So among some conventional stuff, there are some rather unusual things that would not be expected to come from a commercial enterprise. These would include some of the book reviews as well as the research articles (e.g. Mickey Mouse gets no mentions, but Mafalda does). The management of the company is not entirely oblivious to what is going on. In fact, my manager did come across the Lispector book review and wondered if this was a little off the beaten track. But I did have a perfectly valid explanation. As a research company based in New York and running a English-language web site, we are obviously perceived and attacked as some gringos with no actual Latin American expertise and knowledge. It was therefore important for us to demonstrate that we have local knowledge that the local people might not expect for us (or even themselves) to have.

So far, the published book reviews come from my personal reading list. My reading areas are much more general than either Latin America or media. But without going completely overboard, I have at least made sure that there is some plausible linkage with the site subject: media. I have read and re-read Lispector's novels, but it is hard to come up with a reason to bring them in. But at least I have managed to smuggle the Selected Cronicas in. Still, the books that I have selected are somewhat unconventional, and the points that I make are occasionally unusual. I don't usually review things like "Global Broadcast Television News", "International Television Today" or whatever because I find them boring, ordinary, and expected --- unless I find something objectionable therein.

As for your question, "Are you interested in publishing reviews that aren't in-house evaluations?", the answer is a definite YES. There is no real editorial policy as to authorship, content or length. If someone like yourself or others are interested in reviewing books to reach our audience, you should certainly be accommodated.


#15. Topic: Questions & Answers (10/20/98)

Question: This part of the web is very nice and it has not been updated since October 1997. When do you think it might be updated?

Answer: The answer is, "Right now." We had not bothered with any updates, because this is very much the kind of self-indulgence, self-absorption and self-involvement that we detest. Still, we recognize that self-improvement is impossible without feedback, both from within and from the outside. So we promise to update this page more often.


#14. Topic: Reverse links (10/19/97)

Question: You have a page on Reciprocal Links for external pages that point to Zona Latina. I can see that this is a very eclectic collection of odd sites. How did you manage to find them?

Answer: A number of these sites notify us. It is in their interest to do so, since we will automatically provide a link back to them, virtually regardless of their content. We located the rest of the links by periodically searching for references to our URL on search engines such as AltaVista. Obviously, Zona Latina can also be located through the major directories and search engines.

Indeed, this is a very eclectic set. As we would have expected, there are quite a few educational sites which link to our newspaper and magazine pages. There is also a large contingent of radio aficionados (especially from northern Europe!) who use our radio page. But perhaps nothing pleases us more than having links to our Mafalda page!


#13. Topic: Page organization (9/22/97)

Question: Some of your links pages (newspaper, magazines, radio) are quite big (over 50K), and it takes a while to download. How about organizing them into smaller chunks, such as by country?

Answer: The purpose of this web site is to promote regional understanding. Segregating the media into national ghettos would be very wrong. By placing all the links on one page, we make it really easy for someone to glide from one country to the next. We deploy a simple text-based page layout with virtually no graphics so that the downloads can occur quicker. The very size of our links page is a testament of the exciting development of the WWW in Latin America.


#12. Topic: Evaluation (8/6/97)

Question: What criteria do you use to decide which links can be included?

Answer: Basically, there is no evaluation as such. We want to be as complete as possible and we will include virtually anything that we can find. We are not in the business of making judgments of artistic tastes and social values.


#11. Topic: Unlinked resources (6/2/97)

Question: On some of your media link pages, you list the name of the media entity but there is no link. Why?

Answer: The decision is based upon people's need. If only media entities with WWW links are listed, then we have a collection of media entities with links and nothing more. But if the question is more general, such as "How many regional cable/satellite channels are there in Latin America (with or without WWW links)?", then I would need to list all those that I am aware of ,even though there are no WWW links to some of them. Besides, listing them without links is a way of encouraging them to establish a web presence, or to inform us if they are already there.


# 10. Topic: Media Buying Services in Latin America (3/31/97)

Question: In the U.S there are numerous third party media buying services who specialize in media only. What is the status of that particular arm of the industry in Latin America? Not firms in the US that purchase Latin American media, but firms In Latin America that specialize in media buying only.Are there many? Who are they? Inquiring minds would love to know.

Answer: Media buying services in Latin America are still a novel thing. One of the media buying services that have made an impact is Media Planning ( http://www.mediaplanning.pt/intl/index.html). The parent company is based in Portugal, but there is now a Mexican subsidiary with the same name. All they do for their big advertising clients is to buy media; that is to say, they would go to the big broadcasters (Televisa and TV Azteca) and purchase big chunks of advertising up front at deep discount and then re-sell them. Media Planning has apparently shaken up the Mexican advertising industry. The full-service ad agencies resent them, because media buying has significantly higher margins and consumes fewer resources (i.e. people, time, money, aggravation, ...) than the creative side of the business. Obviously, the advertisers love them. So media buying services are definitely going to be a high growth area in Latin America in the near future.


# 9. Topic: Research articles on Zona Latina (2/28/97)

Question: You have posted a number of different research articles in your top-line research data page. What is the criteria for publishing?

Answer: There are several criteria: First, there are speeches and articles that we have given at conferences and meetings. We select our topics carefully to meet the perceived interests of the participants. Since these speeches are already in the public domain, we published them on Zona Latina for a more general public.

Secondly, we frequently receive inquiries about media as well as other subjects. Usually, these questions are fielded on a one-to-one basis. When we feel that a particular question is of general interest, we post the information on Zona Latina. An example is the recent article about the Internet in Latin America. So if you have something that you would like to know about, you can ask the Webmaster. You can write in any language of your choice.

Thirdly, we periodically review the scope of the content, and we make sure that we present a balanced treatment of Latin American media (television, print, radio, Internet, etc.) as well as covering topics of current interests. An example is the one about the Cola Wars in Venezuela.

Well, as you can see, there is really no fixed set of criteria. Actually, if you want to contribute something, you are welcome to.


# 8. Topic: Flags in the Zona Latina logo (1/25/97)

Question: Since there are millions of Latinos (both immigrant and native) in the United States, why not put the U.S. flag on your masthead?

Answer: This question is by no means facetious, and is enough to provoke an existential crisis for us. It gets down to the basic question: What is Zona Latina supposed to be about?

Historically, this site began as an information gateway to serve business customers (more specifically, the subscribers to Audits & Surveys Worldwide's Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamérica study). That study covered nineteen countries in North/Central/South America and the Caribbean which have either Spanish or Portuguese as the official national language. Accordingly, we used the nineteen national flags as part of our logo.

Later on, it was pointed out that this so-called Latin American site has omitted Cuba just because we did not conduct business there at the time. In view of this criticism, we added the Cuban national flag in our logo and also added Cuban links. Yet later on, we realized that there are many excellent Spanish/Portuguese media based in the US, and we have in fact added these links (e.g. Univisión and Hispanic Magazine). More recently, we are grappling with the question of whether or not we should include Spanish/Portuguese links outside of the Americas (not just Portugal and Spain, but also Angola, Macau, Madeira, Mozambique, etc). One of our considerations is the fact that our sponsors (Audits & Surveys Worldwide and IBOPE) intend to use this site to disseminate Latin American information only.

For the moment, we think that we will leave the Zona Latin logo as it stands. The twenty flags represent the countries in the Americas with Spanish or Portuguese as the principal language. This choice does not signify any exclusionary intent. We welcome anyone who is interested in Latin American media.


#7. Topic: Newspaper link (posted 12/31/96)

Question: I was surprised that the Peruvian newspaper Expreso was not included in your newspaper links. It would be of great interest to me, and I know to many other Peruvians, to have this important newspaper available in your site.

Answer: I thank you for bringing EXPRESO to our attention. Previously I had not been aware of the existence of the web site. I have remedied the situation, and EXPRESO is now on the newspaper page on Zona Latina. Given the present crisis at the Japanese embassy in Lima, I am sure that many people are interested in any in-country reports from Peru. We are willing to provide links to Latin American media, but we need to be aware of them first. We thank you for bringing EXPRESO to our attention, and we encourage you to continue to do so in the future.


#6. Topic: Media resource links (posted 12/22/96)

Question: I understand that you update the media resources links, but it is hard that to determine which ones have been updated. Given that you provide hundreds and hundreds of links, can you make it easier for me?

Answer: Unfortunately, we cannot flag each link with updated contents. In terms of content, some links are static while other links (such as online newspapers) are updated continuously. At the same time, new web sites appear daily while old sites disappear. To direct your attention to new and interesting links, we will set up a NEW AND DIFFERENT section on the Media Resources page. It should be noted that when we say "New", we mean that this site has recently come to our notice even though the site could have existed for a long time. I hope this will prove useful to you.


#5. Topic: Trivia Quiz (posted 11/25/96)

Question: Your trivia quizzes are incredibly difficult and absolutely pointless. I often find myself unable to get more than a couple of them right. Maybe you just enjoy destroying the self-esteem of other people. But then I don't feel bad because they are so stupid! Most of all, I don't know why I got it wrong and I don't find out why some other answer is right.

Answer: Okay! You got us there! From now on, the TRIVIA QUIZ will be pedagogical in nature. That is to say, we will in provide links and other information so that you can explore each question in detail.


# 4: Topic: Weekly News Update (posted 10/6/96)

Question: When your web site was started, you had a page for WEEKLY NEWS UPDATES. However, it was obvious that this page was not being kept up to date. What is going on?

Answer: We discovered that there are existing web sites (such as LatinoLink) which cover the same sources that we use. We have therefore elected not to spend our time doing constant news updates.


# 3: Topic: Media Resource Links (posted 9/5/96)

Question: Your media resource links look to be very extensive. Compared to most of the other gateways that I have used, you seem to have many more listed entities. However, when I access these links, I find that the quality varies a great deal from link to link. Some links lead to first-rate sites (such as Discovery and ESPN), but other links lead to simple pages with just logos and postal addresses. What is your philosophy?

Answer: At this time, we feel that we should attempt to provide as much information as possible. For each media entity, we will link to its Latin American site if one is available; examples are NBC and Travel Channel. If the entity does not have a Latin America-specific site, we will link to its general site if one is available. If the entity does not have its own site at all, we will link to other sites, most frequently online trade publications (P&D Net) and cable system operators (such as TVA of Brazil). We feel that some information is better than no information. But we have observed that more and more media entities are coming out with their own sites (for example, the HBO Ole sites are new) and we will upgrade our links accordingly as we learn about them. So you should check the links frequently, because they may not be the same ones that you saw before.


# 2: Topic: Spanish, Portuguese and English (posted 8/2/96)

Question: Me sorprende que se hayan dedicado solamente a usar inglés, a pesar de llevar un título en español. Espero que en un futuro no muy remoto tendrán algo en español, no sólo será útil para el hispanoparlante, sino para los de otras lenguas también que quieran practicar su español o adquirir conocimiento de ciertos terminos relacionados al mundo de los negocios hispanos.

Answer: Desculpe, mas não compreendi nada. Sou brasileiro. Não leio espanhol …

Kidding aside, you have raised a serious issue. In principle, our web site should be in three languages: Spanish which is spoken by two-thirds of Latin America, Portuguese which is spoken by the other one-third and English which is the most common language (lingua franca) on the World Wide Web.

However, we are a start-up web site at this time. Our initial goal is to erect a content-rich site to attract visitors. We also intend to update our site frequently in order to entice people to come back again. With our existing resources, it was most expeditious to start with an English-language web site. A valuable feature of our web site is the collection of Latin American media resources on the Internet, and it is noted that the majority of these resources are in English as well.

There is another reason for our choice of English. This web site was initially intended to facilitate business-to-business communication. We expect that many of our first visitors will be from the media industry (such as advertising agencies, magazines, television programmers and so on). Many of these people are fluent in several languages, but a surprisingly large number are not fluent in Spanish or Portuguese. At their respective companies, these people have worldwide responsibilities and they cannot be expected to master all the major languages of the world. It was therefore important to start with English.

In the future, things may be different. Our web site will become stabilized and we may have many more visits from consumers than business people. The conditions will then be appropriate for a multi-lingual site.


# 1: Topic: About the name Zona Latina (posted 7/15/96)

Question: You have named your site Zona Latina. I would like to point out that the word Zona may have a perjorative meaning in Portuguese. Did you realize that?

Answer: Oops, we did not know that. When we think about the word Zona, the first image that comes to mind is Zona Rosa (Mexico City), one of the most famous shopping districts in the world. But sure enough, when we consulted our Portuguese-English dictionary, Zona can be used to describe a 'red-light district'! We have asked a number of Portuguese-speakers whether or not they found the name Zona Latina problematic, and the answer is that this is no big deal nowadays. Therefore, we have decided to continue with this name. Of course, this situation is yet another lesson for marketers to remember that we should be sensitive to the multicultural diversity within the Latin American region.


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