FRESNO BEE AIMS AT HISPANIC COMMUNITY ONLINE

By: Carl Sullivan

Bilingual Forum Held; New Site Developing


The Fresno Bee is reaching out to Spanish speakers in cyberspace with bilingual forums and an enhanced bilingual Web site.

Over the next six months, the California newspaper plans to enhance the Web site for its bilingual weekly Vida en el Valle. Published since 1990, Vida en el Valle currently has a static information-only site.

By July, the free newspaper hopes to publish news and features online at least once week, says Editor/Publisher Juan Esparza Loera. “We’ll also be providing more news from Latin America, probably with a wire service feed,” he says.

Initially, the newspaper will use existing print staff to produce the Web site. Fresnobee.com’s staff will assist Vida en el Valle in developing the site.

The Bee has been serving Spanish speakers on its fresnobee.com site as well. Last month, the newspaper sponsored a live online forum in both English and Spanish.

The Bee’s coverage last summer of an accident that killed 13 farmworkers inspired state Assemblyman Dean Florez to introduce new farmworker transportation legislation, says Eric Johnston, managing editor of fresnobee.com. In early December, Florez and three state highway patrolmen participated in the online forum to discuss the legislation.

Johnston estimates that 1,000 to 1,500 people participated in the discussion, which ran 30 minutes over the scheduled time. “Most of the agricultural workers in this area speak Spanish as their primary language,” he says. “We think people found this to be a valuable service.”

The event attracted a bit of publicity for the newspaper and its Web site as well. Four TV stations and several radio stations covered the forum.

And while Vida en el Valle expands on the Web, it will also expand its print circulation from 21,500 to 34,500 by the end of the month, Loera says.


Carl Sullivan (carls@mediainfo.com) is editor of Editor & Publisher Interactive.

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