Argentinian Graciela Mochkofsky named director of CUNY's new Spanish-language Master's in Journalism

It’s Graciela Mochkofsky’s first week on the job and she already has a full to-do list.

The Argentinian journalist has been named director of the new Spanish-language journalism initiative at the Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY).

The program, which was announced in September 2015, will “train bilingual journalists who want to serve the Hispanic media market in the U.S. or in their home countries.” It will be part of the school’s MA in Journalism.

Mochkofsky has a busy schedule ahead. Her first tasks are forming guidelines and criteria for the application process, drafting a curriculum, finding professors and looking for ways to fundraise for the program and for scholarships so that the school can attract the best candidates and applicants.

“There is a clear and urgent need here in the U.S. for a graduate school to train Spanish-language journalists, and bilingual journalists, to serve the growing (in numbers but also in cultural and political influence) Hispanic community and a global Spanish-language community,” Mochkofsky said to the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. “And also, to prepare new generations of Spanish-language journalists to come up with new ideas about the future of the Hispanic media here in the U.S. and elsewhere.”

The program will offer students from the U.S. and abroad rigorous training with high standards “equal to the best schools of journalism in the world,” Mochkofsky said. Additionally, she said that the program offers the appeal of being at a public university located in New York City, a place with a strong Hispanic presence.

Students will take classes and produce work in both Spanish and English, and so are required to be fluent, speaking and writing, in both languages. Considering challenges the training program might face, Mochkofsky said some students may be more comfortable in one language over another, in part because they received most of their education in just one of the languages.

She plans to confront this challenge by creating a writing program with coaches. The journalism school at CUNY already has a writing program for international students who need help with writing in English; she will work to find people who can help students with writing in Spanish.

Mochkofsky is not unfamiliar with the experience of adapting to writing in another language. A native of Argentina, she traveled to New York City in 1995 to enroll in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.

“I thought my English was so good and then when I started working on deadline, you know,” Mochkofsky said. “It’s hard enough if you do it in your own language.”

She was able to find her way with the help of dictionaries and time, but recognizes that a program with writing coaches will be helpful.

Mochkofsky has high hopes for the new program and what it could mean for Spanish-language media in the United States, Spain and Latin America.

“This program will also become a hub for a debate about the future of Hispanic media, one that will reflect the great diversity of ideas and possibilities,” she said.

Mochkofsky is an author, journalist and professor. In Argentina, she worked at Página/12 and La Nación. She was a columnist and blogger for Spain’s El País and a contributor to the websites of The Paris Review and The New YorkerShe and husband Gabriel Pasquini founded online Argentine politics and culture magazine El puercoespín in 2010. She has authored six books in Spanish

She also is a former professor at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, a former Nieman Foundation Fellow and founding member of ALiados, a professional association for independent Latin American digital media outlets.

The Spanish-language initiative at CUNY is still waiting on approval from the New York State Department of Education. People interested in the program can fill out an information request form here.

The initiative will receive help from Argentine media company La Nación, which owns El Diario/LaPrensa in New York, La Raza in Chicago and La Opinión in Los Angeles through media company ImpreMediaUnivision NewsThe Guardian; and newspaper El País of Spain, which offers, with the Autonomous University of Madrid, a two-year Master of Journalism program out of La Escuela de Periodismo UAM-EL PAÍS. Spanish-language instruction organization Instituto Cervantes will also be involved.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.