California student news outlets increase coverage in Spanish.

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Several student-operated newspapers across the Cal State system now offer content in Spanish. However, the methods and motivations for doing so vary from one campus to another.

The ability of a campus newspaper to publish in Spanish depends on having Spanish-speaking staff, and the turnover of student journalists from semester to semester can significantly impact a newspaper’s ability to publish in Spanish.

Adriana Hernandez, the editor-in-chief of San Francisco State’s Golden Gate Xpress, acknowledges that her publication is among the more fortunate ones.

“We either translate or conduct original reporting (in Spanish) — based on the situation or urgency — for our Spanish section,” Hernandez explained.

San Francisco State is the first campus within the Cal State system to offer a major dedicated to bilingual Spanish journalism, providing its student journalists with continuity from one year to the next.

In contrast, California State University, Sacramento faces challenges in recruiting students who are capable of producing Spanish-language content for their peers.

“Last semester we had four staffers, this semester we had five,” stated editor-in-chief Mercy Sosa. “We have adapted, grown, and discovered more tools at our disposal, but we are still learning ourselves, so not everyone is as confident with Spanish writing.”

Fernando Gallo, adviser for The State Hornet, expressed that finding students proficient in reading and writing Spanish is a formidable task at Sacramento State.

At San Diego State University, Jennifer Aguilar, a senior and first-generation transfer student, oversees Mundo Azteca, an entire Spanish section of The Daily Aztec, San Diego State’s student-run newspaper. She described her role as one that involves “translating or assisting others in writing their stories in Spanish.”

“We recruit students annually to maintain continuity as students depart,” Aguilar remarked.

Meanwhile, at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, students specializing in Spanish rather than journalism have contributed to The Mustang News. Martha Galvan-Mandujano, an assistant professor of Spanish, has encouraged her students to participate.

“Some of my students have assisted as editors, translating, or writing news in the past. I believe they commenced in 2021-22,” Galvan-Mandujano stated. She teaches a class on Spanish journalism within the university’s department of world languages and cultures, and has “recommended students to The Mustang News in the past and encouraged my advanced Spanish students to engage in collaborating with the newspaper.”

Beyond logistical considerations, there is a broader significance to why this initiative matters.

“It’s crucial to incorporate Spanish language in our reporting to give the community a platform to represent themselves,” highlighted Hernandez of San Francisco State’s Golden Gate Xpress. “It also reflects the diversity within our newsroom — our sourcing and the nature of our work. Every community deserves to have their voices heard and be well-informed.”

While acknowledging that metrics for their Spanish stories may not be high, Hernandez noted, “However, we have observed outliers from story topics that resonate with our community. We have witnessed increased activity in our Spanish multimedia content, averaging around 5,000-9,000 views on social media,” and elaborated, “We have seen heightened engagement from our Spanish-speaking audience on platforms like Instagram, as well as reaching individuals beyond SF State.”

At Cal Poly Humboldt, what was initially a Spanish-language insert in The Lumberjack, the campus newspaper, has evolved into the primary news outlet for the region. Moving beyond coverage of campus events, El Leñador (The Lumberjack in Spanish) now delves into topics of interest to the Humboldt County community, such as housing, immigration, and features on local Latino businesses.

Established in 2013, El Leñador emerged after Cal Poly Humboldt was designated a Hispanic-serving institution. Twenty-one of California State University‘s 23 campuses now meet the criteria for Hispanic-serving institutions.

Gallo, adviser to The State Hornet at Sacramento State, underscored the importance of the paper’s bilingual endeavors, particularly given the university’s status as an HSI with a Hispanic population exceeding 35%. The stories resonate not only with the audience but also with the journalists producing them.

“Spanish is the language I am familiar with, the one I grew up with,” reflected Sosa of The State Hornet. “It is the language I can currently work with. However, I believe it is essential for us to recognize that although we reside in the United States, there are individuals here who speak other languages and deserve to access journalism, which is what I believe journalism is.”

Similarly, Daniel Hernandez, the Spanish visuals editor for San Francisco State’s Golden Gate Xpress, emphasized the necessity of incorporating other languages into their publication. The next language, he proposed, might be Mandarin or Cantonese, but he stressed the importance of concentrating on the Spanish language currently and “laying the groundwork for maintaining a sustainable Spanish section.”Emmely Ramirez graduated with a journalism degree from California State University, Sacramento. Olivia Keeler is a fourth-year communications and media studies major at Sonoma State University. Both are former members of EdSource’s California Student Journalism Corps.

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