September 22, 2003 Vol. VIII, No. 3

Spanish Language News Environment Subject of New Course

First Class in Upcoming Spanish Language Journalism Minor Explores Coverage of Latino Communities

"The Los Angeles area is the center of the largest Spanish language media market in the nation," said Jose Luis Benavides, assistant professor of journalism(right). "This is where you have a concentration of more Spanish language television, radio and newspaper media than any other city in the United States."

Benavides teaches Cal State Northridge's first class in a planned interdisciplinary minor in Spanish language journalism, an experimental course called "The Spanish Language News Environment." Together with a second course that Benavides will offer next semester on Spanish language news writing, the class will form the core of the minor.

The minor is timely and greatly needed in a market with Spanish language radio and television stations whose listening and viewing audience numbers rival or surpass those of English language outlets, said Benavides.

Kent Kirkton, Journalism Department chair, said that besides journalism, the minor will include courses in the Modern Classical Languages and Literature Department, the Chicano/a Studies Department and the Central American Studies Program.

The department expects to have the minor in place by the 2004 academic year. It must first be approved by the academic councils of the College of Arts, Media, and Communication and the College of Humanities, as well as the university's Educational Policies Committee.

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the area's largest Spanish language newspaper—La Opinión—has a daily circulation of more than 125,000. That places the paper in the ranks of major American dailies regardless of language, said Benavides.

"There's a demand for people who know how to do journalism in Spanish," he said. "The course is an important step in that direction."

Benavides believes the course is the only one like it in the nation at the bachelor's degree level.

Taught in English to include students who want to pursue media careers but who may not be fluent in Spanish, the course explores Latino-oriented media, Spanish language communities in the Los Angeles area and the way in which the media have historically covered those communities.

Misrepresentation of the Latino community in the media comes under scrutiny as well. "Because gang membership and problems in school dominate coverage of Spanish language neighborhoods," Benavides noted, "many other aspects of the community do not appear in the mainstream media."

His course features talks by professionals who work in a broad range of Spanish language media such as community radio stations, television stations such as KMEX Channel 34 and the Spanish language news agency, Efe.

For more information, call the Journalism Department at (818) 677-3135.

@csun | September 22, 2003 issue
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