A Community Newspaper’s Rationale To Publish A Bilingual Newspaper

Albert Torres, Chairman and CEO of Tu Decides Media, a company that publishes a free weekly newspaper in print and digital format in Washington State and Northeastern Oregon has interesting views about the role language plays to reach Hispanic audiences. Below are excerpts of a recent interview we published on www.portada-online.com.

Portada: What is the reason you publish a bilingual newspaper?

Albert Torres: “Even though I was born in Mexico, I arrived at a very early age to the United States and share more characteristics with the second generation Hispanics. I am bilingual but prefer to read in English. I can read Spanish but I am slower and won't do it if it wasn't absolutely necessary. I felt there was a large enough gap between the English media and the Spanish media. The stories in English didn't quite capture our essence and lack the necessary background to make sense. I didn't see an accurate picture of the Hispanic community but rather what others thought we were like. The Spanish stories tend to focus more on Latin America which holds a special place in my heart but I am more concerned about what is happening in my community here in the United States.

I also found out that beyond filling the gap as a bilingual newspaper in the Pacific Northwest we were able to become a multicultural bridge where we could share stories about each other while removing language as a barrier to understanding each other. Some of our stories are written in English and are translated to Spanish and some are written in Spanish and are translated to English. Take for instance the immigration debate and what is happening in Arizona. If the newspaper was only written in Spanish we would miss the opportunity to share our thoughts with others that can't read Spanish. In order to create change you need to reach people that are different than yourself.”

Portada: Why do you also publish in Spanish?

Albert Torres: “The newspaper is also in Spanish because we want to retain the ability to read in Spanish. Having the ability to speak English and at least one other language can have meaningful rewards. Being able to read an original story without translation and without someone else's opinion and allowing the reader to make up your own opinion is extremely valuable. This is why we called our newspaper Tú Decides or You Decide.”

Portada: What is the circulation of your publication?

Albert Torres: “ We are currently printing 20,000 copies weekly and send out an additional 10,000 e-mails attaching the digital version of our newspaper. We also are experiencing approximately 3,000 downloads from our website (www.TuDecides Media.com) of the digital newspaper. The English copies are downloaded more by a factor of 4 to 1 or 80% English and 20% Spanish.”