Capital Region’s latest newspaper fills a long-neglected niche
by Chris Shields
a Puerto Rican native, comprises the one-person editorial
staff of the fledgling publication, housed in the halls of
sister paper The Record. All around her, the employees
of the Troy-based daily newspaper stir. It is the typical
newsroom—hushed, bustling, and intense. There are the occasional
blusters, the disjointed halves of phone interviews, and the
clacking of keys. Her desk sits at the edge of the large second-floor
newsroom. She is the lone reporter, editor, events-calendar
compiler, and page designer.
very hard,” she says. “It is a really big challenge.”
Luisi is a relative newbie to the world of journalism. She
moved to the states three years ago, after graduating from
the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in comparative
literature, and landed a job with the then nascent Spanish-language
Registro in New Haven, Conn. She started as an editorial
assistant, but quickly moved up to reporting.
When Journal Register Co., the owner of Registro and
The Record, decided to start an offshoot of the New
Haven paper in Troy, Luisi jumped at the chance.
The number of Spanish-language news outlets in the United
States is growing at a steady clip. The paper in New Haven,
she says, went from a staff of two—herself and an editor—with
a circulation of 10,000 to a staff of four in just two years,
boasting a circulation of 90,000. She knows that the opportunity
for growth in Spanish-language news is great. It is a vast
new market that major corporations, like JRC, are finally
Latinos are the largest minority, right now, she says, in
the United States.
are a lot of newspapers coming out in Spanish because, let’s
face it, the Latino market is growing. It is a very big growth
market for people to advertise. Just to tap that market and
get that money,” she says. “That is very American.”
Ladan Alomar was not sur-prised when a mainstream media corporation
decided to bring a Latino-aimed newspaper to the Capital Region.
She was only surprised that it took so long.
is something the Latino community needs big time,” says Alomar,
executive director of Centro Civico of Amsterdam.
The Capital Region’s Latino community is a strong and vital
one, Alomar says. Since starting with Centro Civico 17 years
ago, she has watched the nonprofit grow from having no office
space and $100 in the bank to a budget of more than $1 million.
This is a direct reflection, she says, of the growth of the
Capital Region’s Latino community.
only is it a sizable community,” Alomar says. “It is a community
that has been in the region for a very long time and it is
growing very rapidly.”
But in reading the newspapers, or watching the TV news, you
wouldn’t know it, Alomar says. “The community is invisible.
It doesn’t exist. Mainstream media ignores the community of
color continuously. And the only time you see something in
regards to Latinos in general is if it’s an issue of crime—then
we get the front page!”
Luisi agrees, pointing to the recent coverage of Jose Munoz,
the Schenectady man sentenced Tuesday (March 20) for brutalizing
his girlfriend’s daughter, Xctasy.
obviously has a Latino last name,” she says. “I mean, it doesn’t
matter if he had any other last name, he would still get the
same coverage. But it is surprising that it is all that you
see” of the Latino community.
There are events that occur within the white community that
the mainstream press will pick up on and present as news,
Alomar says, but the same kinds of events in the Latino community,
or the community of color, will go largely unnoticed.
While this lack of attention bothers Luisi as well, she notes
that there is nothing sinister or intentional about it. It
is no secret, after all, that most newsrooms lack a strong
representation of bicultural, bilingual reporters. “If you
are not part of the community and don’t understand what it
is about, then it is hard to cover it.”
example, I covered a quinceanera,” she says, stopping
to spell out the word. “That’s like a ‘sweet 16’ for girls
in Latin America when they turn 15. Quinceanera—the
girl that becomes 15.”
wrote it,” she continues, “for the Registro [in New
Haven] but did a translation for the Register. Someone
from the New Haven Register, had they covered it, it
would have been for a different prospective audience, ’cause
they aren’t from the community. And there aren’t many bicultural
reporters in Anglo newsrooms to go cover these events, or
to even know the importance of them. They just don’t know
what is happening or how to transmit that.”
Juan Julio George, the pub-lisher of Latino New York,
the Capital Region’s only bilingual magazine (every article
published appears both in English and Spanish), puts the Latino
population in his coverage area—Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer,
and Saratoga counties, plus Amsterdam—at around 41,000.
George works as a manager at the Desmond Hotel in Albany.
Before Latino New York and Registro, he says,
if you wanted to read a Spanish-language paper, you would
have to track down a New York City-based publication. So he
and some friends got together and started putting out Latino
New York in September of last year. It is a lot of work,
he says, considering that everyone involved volunteers their
have a lot of good friends who are good collaborators,” he
says. “It pushes the friendship to a limit. But they haven’t
He got the idea to start the independently owned monthly magazine
after a few years of running a Web-based radio station, laradionet.net.
was just a natural progression to publish the magazine,” he
says. “It is just another way, we think, to keep the community
informed. I have always been very concerned about the community
and what we as so-called professionals can do to help the
community. The more informed, the better educated, the more
entertained a particular community is the better a whole community
Each issue of Latino New York focuses on a theme, George
says. The February theme was education. This month’s theme
see a publication typecast to whatever they think the community
is they service,” George says. “But if we are good publishers,
good editors, and good reporters, we will try to take a general,
more global approach. Just because you happen to be Hispanic
doesn’t mean you don’t like to go to Proctor’s and listen
to the music. So we try to take a whole, wide-spectrum view
of society and the community we live in and see how we fit.”
This is why, he says, he made Latino New York a bilingual
publication. “We wanted to do something that wasn’t just for
the Latinos, but it is something for the Latinos and for the
Anglos at the same time. So you can read a column by my doctor
about high blood pressure in both English and Spanish. Plus
some teachers are using them as an educational tool.”
New York has been well-received, George says, not just
by the readers but by the advertisers. “Every month is a better
month. And to me that says that people recognize that this
community is a community that is here to stay, first of all.
And it is a progressive community that has resources to spend
in the local economy.”
He points to the National Latino Conference being held this
weekend (March 24-26) at the University at Albany that will
bring 600 students from all over the SUNY system to Albany.
Also, he says, there is the Latin Fest at the end of August
that usually draws 11,000 people to the Washington Park area.
two newspapers in the area makes perfect sense,” George says.
“Having the radio station, having the barber shops, having
the beauty parlors, having the mom-and-pop stores is a creation
of a community.” As long as the mainstream community is willing
to accept the minority community, and the minority community
is willing to bring positive elements, he says, “it makes
sense for everybody.”
A copy of the second issue of Registro lies folded
on Luisi’s desk. On the cover of the free tabloid is a photo
from the center-spread story—a profile of Jose Malone’s, an
Irish-Mexican restaurant in Troy. The headline shouts: “ˇFeliz
día de San Patricio!” Underneath that is a photo of Assemblyman
Darryl Towns (D-Brooklyn), a member of the Black, Puerto Rican,
Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.
area I cover is quite vast,” Luisi says, “and I only come
out every two weeks. I only have five local pages, plus the
center spread. Some days there will be five activities going
on in five different places that I would love to cover.” But,
she says, she obviously can’t split herself into five people.
So, instead, she will try to find those stories that will
have the broadest appeal.
I try to do is have at least one article that tackles how
to do things around the area,” she says, giving as an example
an article she did about Free File, an IRS program that is
available in Spanish. This past issue, she wrote an article
about how to get a driver’s license.
She also did a profile on a Spanish-language nonprofit organization,
which, she says, will probably become a mainstay in the publication.
people know where to get services, what is available to them,”
Already she has been receiving phone calls from people in
the Spanish-speaking community who view the paper as a social
service. “I am providing information for people that they
wouldn’t get it elsewhere. A lot of state agencies don’t even
have staffers who are bilingual. And a lot of people who only
speak Spanish are falling through the cracks. In that way,
I am trying to get information to them.”
I also want to entertain those people who are here and can
read media in English,” she says, “but still would be willing
to pick up the Registro and be interested.” This, she
says, is the reason for putting a dance troupe or a restaurant
on the cover of the paper.
which covers local, national, and international events, does
keep an eye trained specifically on Latin America and immigration.
In these issues, Luisi says, the paper will try to go beyond
what the mainstream media provides.
don’t have to be from Spain to care about what is happening
in Spain. Or President Bush visiting Colombia,” she says.
“To me that is important. I don’t have to be from Colombia
to be interested in what is happening.”
Tucked back in the classifieds is a feature Luisi isn’t keen
on, however. Every issue showcases an attractive young woman
clad in a scant bikini—the Mamacitas. Luisi rolls her
was cringing that you were going to ask about that,” she says.
“It is surprising that more people haven’t asked me about
it. Journal Register Co. has the feature in all the [Spanish-language]
What are you going to do, she says, with a shrug of her shoulders.
It is a business, after all.
The third issue of Registro will come out March 30.