el diario/La Prensa: The Nation’s Oldest Spanish-Language Daily

NCM Profile

NCM, NCM Profile, Daffodil Altan Posted: Jul 27, 2005

No one can say el diario/La Prensa is new to journalism. The paper, which expanded with the marriage of the two separate papers, El Diario and La Prensa, is touted as the first Spanish-language newspaper to hit U.S. streets. Founded in New York City nearly 100 years ago by Rafael Viera, a Spaniard, La Prensa was first known as "The Only Spaniard Newspaper in the United States."

La Prensa’s other half, El Diario, was created in the 1950s by Porfirio Dominicci, a Dominican doctor. It then changed owners and was purchased by O. Roy Chalk, a transit operator, in 1961.

In 1963, Chalk acquired La Prensa, and merged the two papers to create el diario/La Prensa. A long road and several owners later, the paper is still the largest Spanish-language daily in New York City. Covering everything from local politics to daily happenings in Latin America, the paper maintains a commitment to its New York base of Latinos.

"When you read our newspaper,” says current Editor-in-Chief Pedro Rojas, “you know what’s happening in your city and in your country. Our metro section is the same size as our international section.” The paper distinguishes itself from other U.S. Spanish-language newspapers because it has several correspondents in Latin America.

With a circulation of 243,000, the daily newspaper shows no signs of aging. Last year el diario/La Prensa joined forces with La Opinión, the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language daily and the largest in the United States. The two papers retained their separate identities, but formed ImpreMedia, now the biggest publisher of Spanish-language newspapers in the country. Later last year, ImpreMedia acquired Chicago’s La Raza, the nation’s third biggest Spanish-language daily.

Publisher Rossana Rosado, the paper’s first female city editor and publisher, was plucked from the layout desk by former legendary editor Manuel de Dios Unanue. De Dios Unanue was murdered in 1992 after developing a reputation for aggressively reporting on drug traffickers.

Aggressive reporting is one of the paper’s hallmarks. Last year, the paper was awarded for a story on New Jersey federal prisons that were illegally using dogs in their interrogations of prisoners.

The paper’s primary objective, he says, is to provide news that impacts the changing Latino community of New York City.

“It used to be a much more Puerto Rican community,” he says. “Now it is more Mexican, Dominican and Columbian.” With the shift in immigration there comes a shift in demand and coverage, he says.

But the paper has always been an integral part of the community, says Rojas, so adapting to changes in New York City’s demographics is nothing new. It’s what the paper has done since 1913.

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