Publishing a bilingual edition: “We don’t want this to be a one-time thing”
What does it mean to be a Latino/Hispanic student at Elon University, where the ethnic group only makes up about 6 percent of the student body?
The staff at the Elon News Network — a multimedia news organization that includes a website, weekly newspaper and broadcast show — tackled this question with the first bilingual newspaper edition in school history in September for Hispanic Heritage Month.
“It’s not just about students in the newsroom,” senior journalism major Diego Pineda said. “It’s about our stories, our people, our community. In media we’re portrayed a certain way, and ‘Latino/Hispanic’ just puts us in boxes. There’s so much to that identity, and doing things like this shows the broad range of our group.”
The idea came up after the Pendulum, the network’s student newspaper, published a special edition for Black History Month in February. Pineda and managing editor Maria Barreto started talking about making a Hispanic Heritage Month edition, but the timing added an extra challenge. It was the start of the semester, and many of the reporters were new.
They met with reporters in late August to plan stories covering issues like immigration, microaggressions and the Afro-Latino perspective. The Elon News Network only has a handful of Latino or Hispanic students out of its staff of 50-60, Pineda said, so he recruited journalism majors outside the paper’s staff who could write in Spanish to help.
The week before the issue was scheduled to publish, an unexpected barrier came up: Hurricane Florence. Elon closed its campus and sent students home, although some reporters stayed to report on the effects of the storm.
“Pushing everything back worked in our favor because we could be more organized,” Pineda said. “We came in the following week and did this paper, right after the Hurricane Florence edition. It was two big markers in less than two weeks.”
Pineda’s story and a column from a faculty member were published in both Spanish and English. Most stories were published in one language or the other — translating his cover story felt like rewriting it paragraph by paragraph, Pineda said. Staff member Maria Ramirez helped with Spanish grammar and copy editing, and the assistant director of the Spanish Center double-checked the translations.