Wanted: Skilled Spanish-language journalists

Newspaper and magazine publishers often complain about the shortage of skilled Spanish-language journalists. “Overall, the quality of Spanish language journalism is not that good yet,” Zita Arocha, senior lecturer in the Department of Communications at the University of El Paso Texas (UTEP), tells Portadatm. The explosion of Spanish language publications has created a need for more education. “Future journalists need to be educated on issues such as freedom of information, best practices and ethics,” says Arocha. There are currently 600 undergraduate students majoring in communications at UTEP. Eighty percent of these students are Latinos and 15% are Mexicans. UTEP recently launched the “Ruben Salazar Spanish Language Media program,” created under the umbrella of the newly established Sam Donaldson Center for Communications Studies. The program offers students the chance to take bilingual classes in print and electronic media. Ruben Salazar (1928-1970) was the first Mexican-American journalist. In his articles, many of them written for The Los Angeles Times, he relentlessly defended Chicano rights and criticized police abuse of Mexican Americans.

A new program...

In January, UTEP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Association of Hispanic Publications Foundation (NAHPF) to collaborate on a bilingual news service website. Stories developed by students at UTEP will be posted on the website. Arocha notes that these stories will be written about and for the Latino co-mmunity, covering relevant issues like “Diabetes among Latinos.”

Thomas Oliver, executive director of NAHPF Inc., says that their sister organization NAHP Inc., with more than 20 years of experience in the Hispanic print industry, will also contribute to the news service offering expert assis-tance from its over 200 member publications. NAHP Inc. members will su-pport aspiring journalism students with fellowships and internships at member publications.

UTEP's Arocha, a former journalist at El Paso-Times and Los Angeles Times, says that current funding will allow them to finance an internship position to develop content for the website. “Ideally we would like to have a whole newsroom working there,” Arocha adds.


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