According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2017, the Hispanic population in the U.S. made up about 18 percent of the nation’s total population. With this audience comes the need for Spanish-language publications to thrive, but they also share the same struggles as their English-language counterparts as seen last December when Tribune Publishing shut down its Spanish-language newspaper, Hoy, which had served Chicago’s Hispanic community for 16 years.
It’s a different story at USA Today, where they recently launched a new series that will tell the stories of the nation’s Latino population. Hecho en USA (or Made in America) explore the lives of Latino families.
“I wanted to read more stories about Latinos beyond the immigration coverage,” Cristina Silva, national enterprise editor for USA Today, said. “Latinos are one of the most prominent demographics in the United States and there’s been a lot of changes in recent years. We wanted to make sure that our readers know about Latinos in 2020.”
Silva said these changes include the rise in Latinos attending college, opening small businesses and becoming citizens. There’s even a rise in Latinos that do not speak Spanish.
These are the kinds of conversations that took place at the newspaper last summer when it was ultimately decided that a series would be created. Silva explained that USA Today started accepting pitches from reporters, specifically who could tell these stories and who could make the time. The paper tapped into the teams they already had for applicable stories (for example, for education stories they tapped into their education team).
With a January launch date in mind, USA Today pulled together a few reporters for their assignments last fall. The first three published stories included bilingual education by Erin Richards and Kristin Lam, college education by Chris Quintana, and Latinos in politics by Dianna M. Náñez.
Found both in print and online, their stories not only included top notch reporting but photography, video and infographics as well. In addition, the stories were published in both English and Spanish (the same goes with any future published stories). Stories are translated by a freelance editor and vetted by internal Spanish speakers to ensure the translations are correct.
The series plans to publish at least two stories a month. Silva said readers can look for more stories focused on the assets of Latino life that are surprising to readers of all ethnicities as well as character-driven stories.
“It’s been a really positive reaction. I think people are always excited when companies embrace their diverse audiences…and these are important stories to tell,” Silva said.
When asked about the recent closure of Hoy, Silvia said, “It’s a difficult time in journalism. There are fewer journalism jobs. There’s a lot of consolidation. But overall, I think the USA Today Network is invested in good stories and trying to reach new audiences. So, I’m really thrilled that so many of my colleagues have supported this endeavor.”