International group of media outlets and educators create Spanish-language graduate program

If all goes according to plan, in Fall 2016, a select group of journalism graduate students hoping to land careers in newsrooms at Spanish-language media outlets throughout the United States will enter a new program tailor made for that purpose.

The Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY) is joining with Spanish, Latin American and U.S. media organizations in order to offer a new graduate-level concentration in Spanish-language journalism.

The media organizations joining CUNY are 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 News; 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.

“The challenges posed to the media by the digital revolution demand a new kind of journalist and this in turn demands new models of training,” said Carlos Guyot, editorial director of La Nación, as quoted in that paper. “This alliance brings a range of approaches, experiences and integrated views for the exercise of quality journalism in the Spanish language: an authentic source of identity.”

CUNY said that students will take journalism fundamentals classes in Spanish and also produce assignments in that language for courses on investigative reporting and covering immigration and Hispanic communities in the U.S. They also will complete summer internships at Spanish-language news outlets.

The primary tasks at hand for this new initiative are gaining university and state approval for the program and hiring a director.

CUNY’s announcement comes at an interesting time for Hispanic media in the U.S.

In 2013, Pew Research Center found the number of U.S. Latinos who got their news in English was growing and English-language news outlets targeted to a Hispanic or Latino audience were being formed. It remains to be seen if these networks will garner the viewership necessary to survive.

Pew said the number of Spanish-language news platforms was also growing, but less Latino adults are getting their news in Spanish, according to Pew. However, they also pointed out the number of potential consumers for that market was increasing with the rise in the Hispanic population.

In its 2015 State of the Media report, the think tank found circulation and viewership for Spanish-language news media in the United States was a mixed bag.

From 2013 to 2014, U.S. Hispanic dailies El Nuevo Herald in Miami, La Opinión and El Diario La Prensa experienced decreases in print circulation, according to Pew and the Alliance for Audited Media. Yet, a group of 31 Hispanic weekly papers studied by Pew saw total circulation grow 4 percent in that time frame.

These mixed audience trends were also present for network television news. Univision, “the largest Spanish-language media company in the U.S.,” lost viewership nationally and locally in 2014 while Telemundo’s news audience grew, according to Pew.

About 36 percent of U.S. Hispanic adults are bilingual and 38 percent mainly use Spanish, according to Pew. These groups will presumably need and want access to quality journalism in newspapers and magazines, on television and radio and via the Internet. The forthcoming CUNY program aims to make sure there are trained journalists prepared to serve them.

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.

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