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El Bohemio News: A San Francisco Pioneer

NCM Profiles

NCM, Catherine Black Posted: Oct 29, 2003

Before there was a Hispanic media explosion, El Bohemio News was carving out its own unique position in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1971, this newspaper has been providing its readers with a blend of arts, culture and news that has garnered national recognition and local loyalty.

Fernando Rosado and Rosalina Contreras-Rosado of El Bohemio News

In 1948 El Bohemio News’ founder, Fernando Rosado, arrived in New York from Cuba as a distributor for several Cuban publications, including La Bohemia—a well-known arts and culture magazine. During the political turmoil of the following decades, Rosado moved west to San Francisco where he opened a popular nightclub named El Sevilla, after the Spanish city in which he was born.

Looking for a way to promote San Francisco’s vibrant nightlife, Rosado started El Bohemio News (then El Bohemio magazine) in a garage. The publication quickly filled a niche as the first publication geared to the city’s growing Hispanic population, and one of the ten oldest Hispanic publications in the U.S.

But after the Vietnam War ended, San Francisco was no longer an important port of call among sailors and the city’s nightlife diminished significantly. “All the clubs were going broke,” remembers Rosalina Contreras-Rosado, Fernando’s wife and business partner (her titles include National Sales Director, Public Relations Director, and Staff Writer). Sensing that one era had ended and a new one begun, “Freddy decided to change his editorial focus from entertainment to news and political content.”

While several other Hispanic publications have appeared in San Francisco in the intervening years, El Bohemio News has carved out a unique space for itself as a newspaper with more conservative political positions, catering primarily to educated, middle-class and often male readers with jobs and homes.

The publication has taken a more critical view of the guerrilla and protest movements of Latin America’s left, including the Sandinista Rebels in Nicaragua and Fidel Castro in Cuba. A regular column, “Noticias Desde Cuba” (News from Cuba), continues to keep Cuban Americans up-to-date on news that is prohibited from circulation in the Caribbean country.

“ We’re not shy about saying things,” explains Contreras-Rosado. “El Bohemio’s editorial content is political, and we have very strong feelings. Freddy has suffered firsthand with his family in Cuba and him over here all these years. Three of his brothers passed away in Cuba and he wasn’t able to be with them.”

Locally, El Bohemio News continues to thrive at the center of a bustling social scene, and the paper’s pages are filled with color photos of the Rosados at various gala dinners, award ceremonies, fundraisers and festivals. “We’re still in the party scene,” laughs Contreras-Rosado.

Judging from the long list of awards that the Rosados have collected over the years, they have good reason to celebrate. Recent recognitions include Fernando Rosado being named in October 2003 one of the 50 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by the Hispanic Media 100/Event Concepts, Inc. Since 1992 the publication has also placed among the top three Hispanic weeklies in its category in the National Association of Hispanic Publications annual awards, and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown named October 27, 2002 Fernando Rosado and Rosalina Contreras-Rosado Day because the couple had both won recognition in the Hispanic Media 100 awards for 2002.

With its artistic origins, it is no surprise that El Bohemio News founded The San Francisco Museum of Hispanic Contemporary Art in 1987, featuring local artists at regular receptions and exhibits. Walking into the offices of El Bohemio, which houses the museum, visitors are struck by colorful murals painted by a local artist.

With a CVC audited circulation of 60,000 and plans to expand the newspaper’s website to include regularly updated news content, El Bohemio is experiencing the positive effects of a boom in Hispanic media that has recently caught the eye of mainstream media and advertising corporations. “The Latino market is opening up for Anglo corporations,” says Contreras-Rosado, “and they’re looking at us more seriously now. I think they will be advertising more, and we will be able to grow.” Future plans include expanding the publications current 12-16 pages, and possibly moving to a bi-weekly publishing cycle.

Yet for all its cosmopolitanism, El Bohemio News retains its strong roots in the San Francisco Mission District, “where our heart is,” says Contreras-Rosado. “This is our way of life. All the people on our staff work here, and we bring our daily experiences into the paper. We are connected to the community, and we have a lot of loyal local advertisers. We go to their stores, we shop there, and they know us and love our paper.”


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