NC Spanish-language news coverage expands amid COVID-19, and reveals gaps

Latino and English-language media and community leaders share lessons and challenges in producing journalism by, for, and about Spanish-speaking NC, where the pandemic hit early and hard

By Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez

Paola Jaramillo and Walter Gómez have spent several years building the digital Spanish-language news site Enlace Latino NC, and when COVID-19 hit, they knew they needed to do more than just report stories to serve their audience.

Enlace Latino, based in the Triangle, is engaging Latinos during the pandemic by going beyond reporting to learn what its audience wants to know about. Enlace’s WhatsApp group, where the founders listen and interact with their audience, has grown to 800 people from 50 when it first launched.

Jaramillo and Gómez were among more than 30 representatives from the English and Spanish-language media, along with leaders of organizations serving Latiino residents, who attended the NC Local News Workshop’s first knowledge-sharing gathering, held Aug. 5 via Zoom: “What are we learning from covering COVID-19 for NC’s Spanish speakers?”

The attendees discussed what is missing from COVID-19 coverage for and about Latino residents, and how information about the pandemic should be disseminated to this group, which has the highest portion of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina. Many reported extra efforts to deliver information, and big challenges in doing so — including finding funding to pay for reporting.

Read moreNC Spanish-language news coverage expands amid COVID-19, and reveals gaps

Intern Corps delivered a raft of NC stories and a tryout of pooled local reporting


Anton L. Delgado covered a Charlotte protest in June for the NC Local News Intern Corps. Photograph by Grace Terry.

The NC Local News Intern Corps, an idea prompted by the COVID-19 crisis, came together in May and delivered its first stories in early June from a summer newsroom of four reporting interns and a supervising editor. Over the weekend, after the group’s final day, intern Anton L. Delgado delivered an update on Twitter about the team’s impact:


Those numbers kept growing this week, and answered one of the questions we had for the Intern Corps: Would newsrooms be able to use stories from a pool?

The answer was yes, with more than 50 editors on our email list by the program’s end: many stories reached a variety of audiences, from mainstream newspapers to Black and Latinx digital media outlets, and some continued getting picked up in the weeks after initial posting.

Now, we’re doing more assessment: surveying editors, talking with the interns, and measuring impact: What does this program show us in terms of the NC Local News Workshop’s goals for strengthening local news?

This wasn’t just an intern program, but also the first initiative of the Workshop, which launched this year as a response to major disruption in local news — the dramatic loss of local journalists in North Carolina and elsewhere, and the opportunities for new approaches to helping people know what’s happening in their own state and communities.

Read moreIntern Corps delivered a raft of NC stories and a tryout of pooled local reporting

New event Aug. 5: COVID-19 coverage in Spanish, share and learn

North Carolina news organizations have ramped up coverage, tried new platforms, teamed up with new partners, and used grant funding for new projects to report for and about Spanish-speaking people on the COVID-19 crisis, which has hit Latinx people harder than other groups.

On Aug 5 from 9-11 a.m., the NC Local News Workshop will convene a knowledge-sharing session to learn what people are trying, what’s working, and where we see more needs and opportunities for serving NC’s Spanish-speaking consumers.

The bilingual session invites participants who are delivering content in Spanish, others who seek to build their service and audiences, and community members who see gaps or opportunities for improving the quality and access to information.

The Zoom event is free, but requires registration. Click this link to register: “What are we learning from covering COVID-19 for Spanish-speaking NC?” 

Registrants so far include established and startup Spanish-language outlets, such as La Noticia, Enlace Latino NC, and others, and journalists from Blue Ridge Public Radio, WFDD, The News & Observer/Herald-Sun, Carolina Public Press, and other outlets, along with conversation about gaps and how to build on what’s working. The session will be moderated by Vanessa Bravo, associate professor and chair of Elon Communications’ strategic communications department, and will include translation services.

The gathering is part of a new event series from the NC Local News Workshop, which launched in June at Elon’s School of Communications to act as a support base and resource center for local news in North Carolina. The series, called “What are we learning?” aims to help people facing common challenges and opportunities come together to trade notes, share knowledge, make connections, and highlight needs and opportunities.

Next up, Aug. 26, noon, via Zoom: “What are we learning from 2020’s big stories about public records and access?” The Workshop will team up with the NC Open Government Coalition, also based at Elon, for a session capturing lessons from public records challenges involving COVID-19 data, and considering issues related to coverage of protests and policing.

Email me (Melanie Sill) if you have questions or suggestions, and watch this space for upcoming programs.

Highlights from the first half of our summer internship

Elon grad @antonldelgado provided a great summation of our efforts so far on Twitter today:

So far this summer @NCNewsWorks reporters have written 10 stories, which have been picked up 21 times by 12 different newsrooms.

Here are some highlights:

From Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez:

Hispanic-owned businesses more at risk of permanent shutdown during pandemic

From Khaaliq Van-Otoo:

George Floyd’s death helps whites, immigrants find their voice in the Black Lives Matter movement

From Riley Davis:

Three North Carolina entrepreneurs are bringing shade back to the beach

From Anton Delgado:

From MLK to BLM: Religion continues to play a critical role in the civil rights movement

Our goal is to assist and supplement state newsrooms by providing high quality news coverage at no cost to news outlets, while providing interns with professional experience and training. If you would like to receive our content, contact Susan Ladd at

We also need your feedback and suggestions to strengthen and improve the program. Let us know how we’re doing by contacting Susan Ladd or Melanie Sill,

Intern Corps stories get quick pickup: Add your newsroom

By Melanie Sill, Executive Director, NC Local News Workshop

Over the past few days, the Workshop’s four NC Local News Intern Corps journalists started providing North Carolina residents and newsrooms with coverage in words, photos, video, and audio, picked up by a variety of news outlets across the state. Some examples:

  • Anton L. Delgado covered Black Lives Matter protests and Juneteenth celebrations in several cities, for  newsrooms including WPTF, WFAE, La Noticia and The News & Observer.
  • Khaaliq Van-Otoo looked at the experience and impact of immigrants and white people as participants in Black Lives Matter protests, a story picked up by outlets including WFAE and the Greensboro News & Record.
  • Riley Davis reported on state parks reopenings, as staff deal with a flood of visitors, fewer employees and challenges including the spread of invasive species, published by the News & Record and WFAE
  • Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez explored the story of the dual punch of the coronavirus crisis on Latinx workers, who are contracting COVID-19 at disproportionate rates and experiencing higher unemployment than whites, with his story and video published by La Noticia, the News & Record and EnlaceLatinoNC.

The Intern Corps is supervised by veteran editor and journalism adjunct professor Susan Ladd, who is sharing budgets and stories through Dropbox. Coverage is free to any news or community information organization in North Carolina.If you’d like to be added to the list, contact Susan at

Learn more about the Intern Corps through this FAQ.

Julia Pimentel Gudiel
\ Julia Pimentel Gudiel helps cook tinga de pollo, a traditional Mexican dish at her friend, Elizabeth Cacho’s house. Photo by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez