Martin Alfaro’s promotion to general manager at AL DÍA marked the start of his new year.
“I had been with the company a little over four years. ... I started at an entry-level position on the business side of things,” said Alfaro.
He began his career at the company as an entrepreneurial fellow, a position that allowed him to develop ideas and conceptualize new services for businesses. The “entrepreneurial” mindset has shaped AL DÍA as it is today when it started with Hernan Guaracao, the founder and CEO.
“He (Guaracao) has a Ph.D. in journalism, and he decided to build a company because he couldn’t find any work after graduation. ... He had to learn the business side of things to run a successful news entity. ... He always likes to ensure that we come in here with that mentality of building something and continuing to build something,” said Alfaro.
Alfaro said that entering the media business never crossed his mind, but once he started working at AL DÍA, he couldn’t see himself walking away.
“I literally fell in love with this career. And I’m not going anywhere. I found a unique space and a huge opportunity,” Alfaro said.
That unique space is the audience AL DÍA captures, and that opportunity he mentioned is creating content that some publications lack.
“The median age for Latinos in the U.S. is 28. So, what does that mean? Most of those people are first- or second-generation (Americans), and the majority of them are bilingual. Some don’t even speak Spanish. So, when we think of the Latino community today and in the future, we have to think about the type of media they're going to consume and how we will communicate with them,” said Alfaro.
Alfaro also notes the size of the audience. Although the company originated in Philadelphia, its online content has a nationwide reach.
“When we look at the U.S. map, it (the reach of AL DÍA) kind of looks like a smiley face, starting in like California, Nevada, Texas, Florida, and then you move into Virginia, Maryland, D.C. area, Pennsylvania, of course, New York. And then in Chicago,” said Alfaro. The main driver behind gaining those readers is digital tools allowing them to become more relevant nationwide. The organization also publishes in English and Spanish to help reach its audience.
Alfaro notes that as their subscribers grow, so will the company. He shares a few initiatives they are pursuing this year.
“We want to add and implement more data-driven and solution-oriented journalism. We’re missing that in our newsroom currently. And we would like to add that because it would complement the work journalists are currently doing,” said Alfaro.
Another goal for the company is to continue a reporting project it received funding for from the Local Media Association. In 2021, AL DÍA News launched the Journalism Lab on Higher Education, a multi-year reporting project that looks at the transformation — and crisis — of America’s professional workforce in the 21st century.
“We were able to do that through fundraising and working with the foundation. We want to continue to grow that. We would also like to launch other labs on topics we care about, like leadership or ... something business-related, because that’s an opportunity for the Latino community,” said Alfaro.
Alfaro said his company and his team’s belief in him have helped him deliver as a general manager. “I didn't have the experience that somebody for this position would require, but I think that I earned respect, and also I brought in the results, which has led me to this opportunity,” he said.
At 30 years old, Alfaro believes his age matches the audience. These factors he sees as valuable when it comes time to choose someone on a leadership team.
“I think it starts with our visionary founder who understands putting the future of a company like AL DÍA in the hands of somebody that reflects the audience that we’re going after,” said Alfaro.
Alfaro highlighted the importance of a succession plan for most companies, especially as platforms for publishing transform with digital innovations. He also addressed the idea of diversity, hoping his company can also model what that might look like on an executive level.
“There’s a big conversation about diversity in the newsroom. But I feel like what’s never addressed is the diversity need in leadership for these companies,” said Alfaro. He hopes that ownership in publications will also reflect the communities those organizations write for.
Alfaro also noted how investing in mentorship has helped him and his company succeed. “We’re all about providing opportunities for young people to continue to grow and to lead these companies in the future,” said Alfaro.
Victoria Holmes is a freelance journalist and writer based out of Dallas, Texas. Previously, Holmes worked as a TV news reporter and political podcast host at WNCT-TV in Greenville, North Carolina. Reach out to her on Twitter.
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