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