There was a surge in Spanish-language news coverage in the U.S. following Donald Trump’s election. But The New York Times last week announced it was ending its dedicated Spanish reporting, following in the footsteps of BuzzFeed News Mexico and HuffPost Mexico, both of which have shut down.
Bucking the trend is The Philadelphia Inquirer. On a new website known as “El Inquirer,” the paper now collects all of its increasingly common Spanish-language coverage in one place.
There was no official launch for the site, but word spread quickly through Philly’s Hispanic and Latinx communities.
“I first saw a couple months ago,” Ivan, a cook at Marino’s in The Bourse, told Billy Penn. “Friends pass around a lot of stories. A lot of people read it.”
Right now, the majority of articles on El Inquirer are written by just one person — Jesenia De Moya Correa, who is assigned to report on the “Latino Communities” beat. She’s been writing bilingually since April, after hearing from readers that it would be useful.
“I learned that, in addition to more community-driven reporting, readers wanted to be able to understand these stories better by reading them in their native language,” said De Moya Correa, who joined the Inquirer as a Lenfest Fellow last year after working as a reporter in her native Dominican Republic.
The Spanish-language project is only in the early stages, according to Inquirer editor Gabriel Escobar, who said it’s very likely to be developed further.
“We are really encouraged by the response from the community,” Escobar said. “We are in the early stages of developing additional…plans, though too soon to be specific as to details.”
Not everyone in Philly who speaks Spanish has heard of the new endeavor. “‘El Inquirer’? said a woman named Sheila working at a tourist bus next to Independence Mall. “Never heard of it. I do read AL DÍA,” she added, referencing the city’s longstanding Hispanic news journal, which was founded in 1992 and has a circulation somewhere around 50,000.
In addition to AL DÍA, other local Spanish-language media include NBC Philadelphia sister network Telemundo62, El Sol Latino Newspaper, Impact Latino (which has a more regional focus), El Zol Media (radio, podcasting and live-streamed soccer matches) and Philatinos Radio.
As with many other things, turns out Philly was the birthplace of Spanish-language publishing in the United States. The Constitution was translated by printshops here, along with other early federalist papers, to satisfy the population fleeing Napoleon’s takeover of the Iberian peninsula in the early 1800s.
The city’s Latinx population has surged recently to 14.1%, according to government estimates, up from 12.3% during the 2010 Census. That’s more than 225,000 people who might appreciate their news in Spanish.
At The Inquirer, De Moya Correa came up with the idea to write in both languages. Her stories first go through her regular editor, and then the Spanish versions get reviewed by Escobar, who is a native of Colombia. It was product manager Jason Past who came up with the idea to collect them all in one place, Escobar said.
The name for the site came about organically, said De Moya Correa. “We noticed that followers on social media would share and react to them as: ‘Mira este enlace en El Inquirer’ — Look at this link in El Inquirer.”
She’s been generally thrilled with the results of the Spanish-language experiment.
“Translating our reporting to Spanish has helped gain trust in the communities. Latinos would add me to their community chat groups on WhatsApp, where I now run a Latino communities newsletter,” De Moya Correa said. “It’s one of the ways we are getting the word out there and continuously listening to their concerns.”