Reporting in English and Spanish: New Media Course to Shine Light on Latino Communities

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Published November 12, 2018
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The Montclarion
From left to right: Laura Galarza, Babee Garcia and Madjiguene Traore in front of Puerto Rico flag mural in Old San Juan. Photo courtesy of Thomas Franklin

The School of Communication and Media is bringing news reporting to bilingual students who speak both English and Spanish in a new interactive course in spring 2019.

The course, Reportando Las Noticias/Bi-Lingual News Reporting, will shine a light on Latino communities in the area as students use cross-platforms such as print, digital, broadcasting and social media to report on stories.

“We want students to use this course to get jobs and internships,” said Thomas Franklin, an assistant professor at Montclair State University who is best recognized for his iconic Raising the Flag Photo from 9/11. “Students often don’t recognize that this is an asset and to do news reporting and broadcasting in both languages is an unbelievable asset. I want us to leverage that.”

Carina Garcia interviews Marc Anthony.
Photo courtesy of Carina Garcia

 Franklin has teamed up with alumna Carina Garcia, who has worked in Noticias Univision 41 and Despierta America, to be a co-instructor for the course with him. Their goal is to attract students who have an interest in reporting in Spanish but might not be fully proficient in the language.

“We are hoping to attract some students who maybe took Spanish in high school, [and] speak [the language] a couple times a year as a necessity but have an interest in it,” Franklin said.

The idea for the course came during the 2018 spring semester when two of Franklin’s students, Chanila German and Lucia Rubi-Godoy asked, “How come we don’t have any journalism major courses in Spanish?”

Rubi-Godoy had originally thought about the course when attending the National Media Convention in Dallas last October with The Montclarion, Montclair State’s student-run multiplatform news organization. Rubi-Godoy is the former web editor of The Montclarion and German is the current feature editor.

“I attended a session in which someone from the University of Texas Arlington was telling us about a program that they had come up with, which was a lot like what Montclair State has going on with Wired Jersey but in Spanish,” Rubi-Godoy said. “Being that we are in New Jersey, and Montclair State was just named a Hispanic Serving Institution, it seemed fitting to look for something that would cater to that part of the community.”

From left to right: Genesis Obando, professor David Sanders, Madjiguene Traore and Babee Garcia conduct an interview on a farm in Lajas, Puerto Rico in March 2018.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Franklin

After having a conversation with his two students, Franklin brought Rubi-Godoy and German in to speak with the Director for the School of Communication and Media Dr. Keith Strudler and Associate Director Dr. Christine Lemesianou. After listening to the students, they decided to put their plan into motion.

Franklin explained that Montclair State has a Latin community and that we need to identify that and try to create opportunities for students to produce work in this area.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Montclair State meets the criteria for designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). Regarding this new title, President Susan A. Cole said in the Montclair Magazine, “Providing excellent educational opportunities for a diverse student body is both a moral and economic imperative that helps to develop a qualified workforce and to enhance each graduate’s potential to succeed professionally.”

Garcia, who has interviewed celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Mark Anthony and Yandel, believes that this course is a good opportunity for students.

Carina Garcia interviews Jennifer Lopez on “Despierta America.”
Photo courtesy of Carina Garcia

“I think we are living in a very special moment in history and now is the time more than ever when we can use our voices to tell the stories that need to be heard,” Garcia said. “One of the reasons I want to teach this course is to show students that I was just like them and that being bilingual and [Latina] today is an asset.”

Garcia continued to express why Latino culture is so important to spread.

“Our people have stories to share that are compelling, honest and moving,” Garcia said. “If I can awaken that passion in just one more person, then I did my job.”

Students and staff from the School of Communication and Media as well as the University of Puerto Rico pose in front of a Puerto Rico flag mural in Old San Juan during a student reporting trip in March 2018.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Franklin

Franklin agrees that he wants to see students producing more stories in Spanish.

“I would really love to see our students producing assignment work and stories related to Latin culture other than immigration and salsa,” Franklin said. “Immigration and salsa are really important, obviously, but I would like to see stories that involve a little more than that.”

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