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Noticiero Semanal: Connecting Latinos in the Central Valley

NCM Profile

Astrid Martinez Posted: Feb 05, 2004

A record-setting freeze in December, 1998 destroyed citrus crops throughout California's Central Valley, leading thousands of farm workers--mostly immigrants-- to lose their jobs.

Miguel Baez, editor of Noticiero Semanal

Noticiero Semanal, a weekly Spanish newspaper in the town of Porterville, grew out of the urgent need to reach this Spanish-only community that was now jobless and more isolated than ever.

"Noticiero Semanal began as a three-page Spanish insert in the Porterville Recorder, helping people find jobs, loans, and other services during the citrus field freeze," says Miguel Baez, editor of the newspaper.

In a little over four years, the newspaper has grown into a publication whose 27,000 copies are distributed in Latino markets, major grocery chains and local schools throughout Tulare County as well as cities in Kern and King Counties. Its primary goal continues to be community coverage but it has expanded its editorial focus to keep its predominantly Mexican American readership in touch with their homeland, as well as news from Mexican American communities.
"The majority of our readers are Mexicans, ranging from farm workers to doctors and students," says Baez. "We challenge the norm by offering variety. We offer more than just entertainment and immigration news."

Noticiero Semanal covers cross-cultural issues that highlight how Latinos and other ethnic groups live together in the diverse city of Porterville. Readers may come across articles that cover the similarities between traditional Mexican and Eastern medicines or the collaboration of Filipino and Mexican families helping to build homes in Porterville through the Self Help Enterprise program.

Baez recognizes the importance of communicating to the local community by offering columns that speak directly to the readers. A regular women's column, "Cosas de la Vida," has covered topics such as the experience of Latinas in college and the 320 women known as the "Women of Juarez" who have been murdered in Juarez, Mexico since 1993.

Noticiero Semanal's rapid growth in Tulare and neighboring cities has paralleled the increase of the Mexican population in the area. According to the 2000 census, the Mexican community in Tulare County increased by 64 percent in ten years.

"When I started working at the newspaper in 2001, I wanted to put a lot of effort into it," says Baez. His hard work has paid off. In 2003, The National Association of Hispanic Publications gave Noticiero Semanal honorable mentions for Best Community Story and Best Hispanic Success Story, and second place for Best Cultural Article. The publication was also awarded second place for best newspaper format and Front Page design.

But Noticiero Semanal's involvement goes beyond news coverage. It also sponsors local events like the Cinco de Mayo festival. The publication has also worked to address more personal needs in the community. “We have featured people that have needed organ donors, and have covered the deportations of families in the Central Valley.”

The most well-known of these was the deportation of the Arreola family in Porterville. The family was allegedly misled by their lawyer, who filed for political asylum for them, which was denied in early 2003. After local and national media attention, California Senator Dianne Feinstein granted the family permanent resident status this year.

"The Arreola family deportation was closely watched by the community because many Mexican immigrants have filed for the same asylum. In the last year, there has been an increase in deportations," says Baez. There has also been a change in the way immigration officials target immigrants for deportation. "In the past there were mass deportations, until political leaders put pressure (on the police and INS officials) to stop the raids. But now individuals and families are being deported when they go to file for residency or legal status." Baez attributes part of this change to the new provisions of the Patriot Act.

As it continues to expand, the publication’s goal is to grow with the community and focus on local news as its top priority. But Noticiero Semanal will also be expanding its inter-ethnic coverage and its coverage of local sporting events. "We have hired someone to cover the popular local soccer leagues," says Baez. "We want the community to consider us their main trustworthy news source and voice of authority."

Noticiero Semanal
115 E. Oak Avenue
Porterville, CA 93257
Tel: 559-784-5000
Fax: 559-784-1689
Email: noticiero@link.freedom.com

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