Spanish language news is an area of new opportunity

Spanish language news is an area of new opportunity

Professor Pablo Baler reviews the site with his student Edi Sosa.

Modern Languages Professor Pablo Baler (right) reviews content on the site, a Spanish-language sister site to the University Time's, with one of his reporters and students, Edi Sosa.

With notebooks, video and digital cameras in hand, some 15
Cal State L.A. students scoured the streets of Los Angeles this spring, seeking
out stories, interviews and leads. The question they posed was simple: “What’s
up?”—or rather “¿Que ondas?”

The students, enrolled in
Modern Languages Professor Pablo
’s Spanish journalism practicum, represent the first venture by the
University to train and prepare aspiring journalists for the growing field of
Spanish-language media.  In fact, it’s Baler’s ultimate goal for the University
to be one of the first—if not the first—institutions to develop an
interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree program in Spanish journalism.

“When you listen to the radio, watch TV or read the
newspaper, you notice that more training in the language is needed,” explained
Baler, who is also a fiction writer and journalist, reporting in the past for
newspapers, television and radio shows in the states and his native Argentina.

“To be able to combine elements—the writing and reporting
training of a journalist and the language—to produce real Spanish language
journalists would provide our students with a remarkable advantage,” he said.

And that advantage could reasonably translate into more
jobs for Cal State L.A. graduates interested in a field that has seen
exponential growth in recent years, despite drastic cuts and struggles in the
English-language media market. For instance, in 2009, Spanish-language cable
television led all media sectors in advertising growth, expanding its base by
more than 32 percent, while the U.S. advertising market experienced a 9 percent
decline. Similarly, during the same period that English-language newspapers
experienced a more than 10 percent drop in circulation, the combined circulation
of Spanish-language newspapers rose to more than 2 million readers.

“This is the very beginning of something that could be so
much bigger,” Baler said, noting that there is a real interest from students. In
his first two quarters of the Spanish journalism program, Baler said he was
impressed by the number who enrolled and by their dedication to mastering the
material. During the winter quarter, Baler’s students covered journalism news
writing fundamentals, and in the spring they went into the community to put
their skills and knowledge to work.

“It was actually my favorite class,” said undergraduate
Laura Cortez. “(Reporting) helps me to keep up on current events because I have
to know what’s going on to decide what to write about or what’s important.”

The students’ weekly assignments, and written and
videotaped field reports were uploaded and distributed on the newly launched
Spanish-language site The site, developed by Baler and his
students with the help of Communications Professor Jon Beaupre, is run as a
sister site to the University Time’s online presence at
Although a Spanish journalism course is not offered this summer, he said, the
site is being maintained and updated by student volunteers who continue to file
news reports and features.

“I just love writing,” says student Heriberto Alejandro
Orea, who has reported on cultural events and happenings this summer. “I want to
be a professional writer, to write in different formats—and this is one of

A fellow student, Edi Sosa, who has a keen interest in
building a career in Spanish media, added that taking Baler’s classes and
writing for is helping to put him within reach of his goal.
“This leaves a door open for me for future opportunities; I will be ready to
walk in,” Sosa said.

For more on the students’ work, visit