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Vida en el Valle San Joaquin

NCM Profile

NCM, Julie Johnson Posted: Jun 01, 2004

Editor and publisher Juan Esparza Loera says that when he and a few editors from the Fresno Bee started the San Joaquins bilingual weekly Vida en el Valle in 1990, many in the industry thought it would drive out other Latino publications in the community.

Now, the Central Valley is a booming market of Spanish-language and bilingual media.

Theres a stereotype that Latinos wont read, says Esparza. If you give them a quality product, they will read it. If you give something that involves the community, they will support it by reading it and writing letters to the editors about what stories they want to see covered.

The other newspapers are there, and they are thriving. We dont see them as competition, and we still believe that we are the dominant newspaper not just in Fresno but in California, he says.

With a staff of just under 10, the people at Vida en el Valle put in exhaustive hours to produce the bilingual weekly with a circulation of 60,000 awarded the Best Bilingual Newspaper for seven out of the past eight years by the National Association of Hispanic Publications.

Their dedication and connection to the Latino community of the San Joaquin Valley makes it possible for the editors to create unique stories such as last falls six-part on how the influx of Latinos has changed the San Joaquin Valley. From immigration and health to unemployment and crime, the series covered a range of issues that affect all Latinos in the Valley.

We dont target the farm worker, the student, or the professional, says Esparza. Instead, he says, the publication offers a variety of news, entertainment, sports and community stories to a broad audience in the style of mainstream media. Though it is owned by Fresnos leading daily The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle produces its own content and remains grounded in the Latino community.

Esparza says they go to more local graduations than any other newspaper in the area but their stories arent just dry recounts of buffets.

Vida en el Valle features articles such as the story of a young Latino graduate of Fresno City College who, when released from prison with two strikes against him, decided to change his life around by going back to school. The editors wanted to tell the story of his graduation with a Deans Medallion after being drug free and gang-free for nearly a decade.

Esparza says that what separates the publication from the Fresno Bee or other mainstream papers is that they can cover stories more intimately because their audience is more cohesive than the standard mainstream audience. At a Fresno State University graduation, for example, while the local mainstream paper wrote about the crowd size, Vida en el Valle was able to focus its story on the commencement speakers, two Latino brothers who built their business into a multi-million dollar enterprise.

People expect a lot from us, says Esparza. There are endless stories in our community.

Vida en el Valle is online at www.vidaenelvalle.com

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NCM Ethnic Media Mixer - Fresno

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