The Latinx community around Tucson, Arizona, has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. La Estrella De Tucson, a weekly Spanish-language newspaper, with the support of the Arizona Daily Star, has taken this moment to refocus on what its readers want and need to know in order to better protect their health and their futures.
Liliana Lopez has worked for the paper for 16 years and became its editor last year. While she’s the only writer on staff for La Estrella, she says the support of the Arizona Daily Star newsroom has helped her share information, in English and Spanish, with her community.
“Other publications here are more oriented to commercial or marketing. I don’t want to say they’re not doing a good job but they have a different role,” she says. “La Estrella is doing real journalism. … I think our community recognizes our effort. The organizations who are trying to help the Latinx community have been working very closely with us.”
In addition to her new title at La Estrella, Lopez also was afforded the opportunity to participate in a Community Listening Fellowship sponsored by the American Press Institute.
“Something had been broken at some point and we were very focused on how to better know and listen to our audience,” she says. “Then we learned about this fellowship. We applied and I‘m so grateful that the American Press Institute gave me the opportunity to be part of this program. It couldn’t be more important for me and for us at La Estrella.”
After the fellowship, Lopez and the paper initiated a reader and community survey to better understand the readers, their concerns, their issues, and what they held to be important.
“We learned that we have the same dreams, the same issues,” she says. “We all want to be healthy, we want to be in a better position, but we are not all at the same level. We wanted to work, to do journalism that would be useful for our community. This fellowship came at the very right moment for us.”
Top among the list of priorities: affordable health services and ways to help children go to college.
La Estrella has worked to provide information to its readers not only about federal programs for health care, but also community-based health opportunities for those who might not be eligible for government assistance.
“We created a couple of stories telling people why and how this pandemic is affecting more of our Latinx students, especially with illegal status. What we learned in those past months is now in use to create relevant journalism in this pandemic. Health services and education opportunities are one of our focuses. We have been able to address these subjects in the pandemic context.”
It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell talks with Liliana Lopez, editor of La Estrella de Tucson, a weekly Spanish-language paper in Arizona. They discuss what she learned from the American Press Institute’s Community Listening Fellowship and how she put that information to use to help the Latinx community during the pandemic.