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The State Hornet launches Spanish-language section with original content and translation of major stories

Laura De la Garza Garcia, State Hornet Spanish section editor, far left, pictured here with other members of the student-run news site's staff, leads a team of bilingual reporters, who help her produce the revitalized Spanish-language section. Also pictured: Adoreil Ayoubgoulan, second from left, Julie Blunt, middle, Hugo Quintanilla, second from right, and Alexis Hunt, far right. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Ever since she was little, Sacramento State senior Itzel Espinoza wanted to be like one of the Spanish-language Univision reporters she watched every day from her living room in Stockton.

State Hornet Spanish editor Laura De la Garza Garcia poses at a news desk with the final print edition of student-run newspaper.
State Hornet Spanish Editor Laura De la Garza Garcia worked with Editor-in-Chief Tony Rodriguez and a team of four bilingual student journalists this fall to revive the Spanish-language section of the news site. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

“It sparked something in me,” Espinoza, 23, said. “Because I come from a minority group, I wasn’t always able to get information that was relevant and important to my community except from Univision.

“I wanted to do that for someone else.”

Now she does.

The State Hornet, Sac State’s student-run news site, launched its Spanish section this fall featuring translations of major stories and breaking news as well as original content on issues facing the Latinx community, written in Spanish and English.

“We’re serving students by telling stories that are relevant to them and matter to them,” Espinoza said.

Spanish Editor Laura De la Garza Garcia leads a staff of four bilingual writers – Alexis Pedroza, Idaly Valencia, Nancy Rodriguez Bonilla, and Espinoza – who write articles, record podcasts, and produce videos and occasional live broadcasts.

Sac State has been a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution since February 2015. More than 36% of students identify as Latinx. 

“The Latinx/Hispanic community is one of the biggest audiences here at Sac State,” said De la Garza Garcia. “In California, there are a lot of people who prefer to read Spanish news or listen to Spanish radio or broadcasting.

“I have the privilege of speaking a second language, and I just felt I would be doing a disservice to my community if I didn’t use my skills as a bilingual journalist.”

This isn’t the first time the Hornet has had a Spanish-language section, but an earlier version died out when its editor graduated. This fall, senior Tony Rodriguez took over as editor-in-chief and worked with De la Garza Garcia to start a new one.

“Being Latino, this is a big deal for me,” Rodriguez, 24, said. “I want to show representation to the people and the audience we cover. I want to make sure our coverage is accessible and digestible to our Spanish-speaking audience.”

Since launching in September, the Spanish section’s coverage has featured stories as varied as overcoming mental health stigmas in traditional Latinx homes to the best, authentic Hispanic food near campus.

De la Garza Garcia said there’s a lack of minority representation in mainstream media, and as a result, important stories are missed or reported inaccurately.

“Representation in the media is important to tell the stories that maybe those who don’t identify as a minority can’t tell,” she said. “It also makes the media a lot more culturally competent.”

Their work is already garnering national attention.

In November, De la Garza Garcia’s coverage of a United Farm Workers demonstration at the state Capitol won an Associated Collegiate Press award for Best Social Justice Reporting. 

“It helps open up the type of stories we’re able to tell. There’s a level of comfort some of our sources have, being able to speak in Spanish.” -- Fernando Gallo, State Hornet staff advisor and Communication Studies lecturer 

Her story about the farmworkers’ efforts to pass a bill making it safer to unionize almost didn’t get told.

“There was pushback just because there wasn’t a student angle,” De la Garza Garcia said. “But I’m very stubborn. I was like, ‘No. There’s a story here.’

“I felt we had to bring attention to the issue because I knew our students would find importance in it. Their parents are farmworkers, or their ancestors were farmworkers.”

A Hispanic Heritage Month special report on growing up Hispanic and Latinx earned fourth-place honors for Best Podcast.

“I’ve been really blown away by the work our Spanish section has done,” Hornet staff advisor and Communication Studies Lecturer Fernando Gallo said. “It’s been a huge effort. It requires a different copy editing process because our regular copy editors aren’t able to copy edit Spanish.

“It helps open up the type of stories we’re able to tell. There’s a level of comfort some of our sources have, being able to speak in Spanish.”

Gallo said Spanish speakers are a huge audience that is largely untapped by mainstream media.

“There’s a lot of talk about it, but I haven’t seen much action as I’ve seen here at Sac State,” Gallo said. “It’s pretty exemplary, the type of Spanish section we have here.”

The staff also relaunched the Hornet’s Spanish broadcast, creating a studio with equipment donated by Univision.

“It was very exciting,” said Espinoza. “It felt kind of surreal, but it left me intrigued and wanting to do more.”

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About Jennifer K. Morita

Jennifer K. Morita joined Sacramento State in 2022. A former newspaper reporter for the Sacramento Bee, she spent several years juggling freelance writing with being a mom. When she isn’t chauffeuring her two daughters, she enjoys reading mysteries, experimenting with recipes, and Zumba.

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