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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.

The cover of the Pendulum's Sept. 26 issue.

Pineda and design chief Meghan Kimberling worked together on the cover design, laying out the story in both English and Spanish. When the paper was published on Sept. 26, it felt surreal, Pineda said — it had gone from a dream to a reality, a physical product.

“People who are graduated never thought this would be possible,” Pineda said. “A former staffer sent us this message about how proud she was that we were embracing our roots. People in my family in Guatemala could read what I do because they don’t know English. We’re definitely going to remember this as one of the highlights of being at the ENN.”

Ultimately, the issue is just an example of the importance of representing the Latino and Hispanic communities accurately in media, Pineda said. He hopes the issue will be a bridge to more coverage of the towns with heavy Hispanic populations surrounding Elon.

“We don’t want this to be a one-time thing,” Pineda said. “We should do this as something normal, not just when we need to talk about it this one month.”

One tool we (mostly) love

The Pendulum staff used Google Translate to help with the bilingual issue, Pineda said, but the tool comes with some caveats. “I would take a subsection of my story and translate word for word what I knew, and what I was iffy about I’d Google Translate and see what they had,” he said. “A lot of it was wrong, but it gave me a direction.” If you’re using a translation tool in reporting, make sure to check the results with someone fluent in the language, like a teacher or professor.

Reading list

I love high school teacher David Cutler’s comparison between driver’s ed and teaching journalism: “You really learn most of it on the road actually doing it and learning from your mistakes and going back into the field to correct those mistakes,” Cutler said. The reporter-turned-teacher talked with Education Dive about how he teaches in an era of “fake news” criticism.

Jobs at local and national outlets train young journalists for fundamentally different careers, Steve Myers writes for Nieman Reports. Entry-level reporting jobs aren’t always easy to find, but online outlets in big coastal cities offer opportunities more focused on digital production and aggregation. “It’s as if local and national news — or more precisely, local legacy media and national digital media — reside on separate islands in the Galápagos, evolving with their own needs and characteristics.”

This story is just too lovely not to include: Daniel Radcliffe spent a day with the New Yorker’s fact-checking department to prepare for a Broadway role as a fact-checker.

Opportunities and trainings

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Edited by the wonderful Nancy Coleman.
This week's issue is brought to you thanks to a beautiful Colorado snowstorm that kept me inside to get work done.

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