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CUNY’s Bilingual Journalism Program: A Mission to Report and Amplify the Latino Community

Arts and Media June 2024 PREMIUM

The MA in Bilingual Journalism Program at CUNY's Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism trains bilingual students to cover Latino communities, emphasizing bilingual skills, rigorous reporting, and cultural understanding. It prepares journalists to address the growing influence and diverse nature of Latinos in the U.S.

Teaching and practicing journalism in Spanish in New York City and shining a light on the Latino community are part of the gifts of the M.A, in Bilingual Journalism Program at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism.

The Bilingual Journalism Program (formerly the Spanish-language Journalism Program) is a unique initiative launched in 2016 as the United States’ first bilingual master’s journalism concentration, to train bilingual students interested in covering Latino communities in the United States. 

With the U.S. growing more diverse and Latinos surging in terms of population growth and political and cultural influence, but still largely ignored or misunderstood by much of mainstream media coverage, the need for this program continues to be as urgent as it was when it started in 2016, under the leadership of journalist Graciela Mockshosky who would later become the dean of the Newmark J-School. Anchored in journalistic excellence and empathy, our students learn to use their bilingual skills to produce rigorous reporting, on deadline, in English and Spanish, while nurturing a deep understanding of the complexity of the Latino experience.

As a framework for the program, it’s important to underscore that 1 in 5 of the U.S. population is Latino and according to the U.S. Census, this community is projected to continue increasing through 2060, with growing political, cultural, and economic influence. The Census estimates there were roughly 63.7 million Hispanics in the U.S. as of 2022, making it the largest ethnic minority group in the nation. 

The Bilingual Journalism Program has prepared new generations of journalists to thrive in an ever-changing media landscape while we promote a better understanding of the diversity of this community by delving into the Latino experience of New York City’s neighborhoods. We do so with a deep commitment to journalism that shows how the Latino community is not a monolith but a rich tapestry of stories, voices, and particularities.

The Bilingual Journalism Program is cohort-based, with students taking five courses in Spanish, including the first and second semester core reporting and writing classes on Latino communities, an advanced research course, and two subject courses on in-depth journalism and reporting on identity.

I came to the Bilingual Program in 2019 to co-teach the foundational reporting and writing class, and in 2021 I began my journey as director of this program, which has reinforced my own pedagogical and journalistic vision. 

When prospective students and fellow faculty within and beyond CUNY ask me about the Bilingual Program, I tell them that in this master’s journalism concentration, we see students’ ability to navigate both languages as their cultural asset, allowing them to delve into bustling New York City to cover its deeply-rooted Latino community.

Besides their Spanish-language classes, students benefit from all that the Newmark J-School offers, since their curriculum follows the standard M.A. in Journalism coursework, strengthening their reporting in Latino communities with additional courses in English from other subject concentrations and media specialties. 

The Bilingual Journalism Program's professors and students power El Deadline, a news outlet centered around Latino stories produced by our students.

In 2022, a package of stories about immigrant workers’ fight for rights produced in one of our classes for El Deadline won the Spanish-language Print/Online News Reporting award in the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ)’s Sigma Delta Chi competition. In 2022, the Bilingual Journalism Program’s collaboration with Univision’s fact-checking platform, El Detector, through El Deadline, came in second place for Best Collaborative College/University & Professional Website at the EPPYs.

This year  we’re proud that our students are among the finalists of the 2024 Ñ Awards of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) with stories of the repatriation of poor Latinos, the fight of Latina nannies for better work conditions, the cultural affirmation of Indigenous Mexican immigrants through dance, and a cultural advocacy group raising awareness about indigenous Mexican culture. All the finalists of the Student Print/Online Journalism category are from our Bilingual Program, with multimedia work published at El Deadline.  Another of our students is nominated in the Student Broadcast category in this year’s Ñ awards. It’s a testament to the excellence of our professors, editors and students and the work our program produces.

One of our recent graduates, Dashiell Allen (Class of 2023), was among the 2024 Alumni Award Honorees, winning the Sidney Hillman Award for Social Justice Reporting. In his acceptance speech, he underlined the importance of  trusting our sources to do impactful journalism and dedicated his award to all of his Bilingual Journalism classmates. His thoughtful words were an affirmation of the program’s journalistic values and tight community.

Our students carry out a required paid summer internship at a Latino-focused Spanish or English-language news outlet in the U.S., or a Spanish-language outlet abroad. Over the years, our students have interned at NBCNews, CNN, Centro de Periodismo Investigativo de Puerto Rico, Factchequeado, The Miami Herald, Condé Nast, El Nuevo Día, and The Texas Tribune, among others. 

When they finish their journey at Newmark, our students contribute nuance, sensibility, and depth to any newsroom, creating stories that reflect the multi-layered experiences of the communities they serve. Our alumni’s trajectory has had them land positions in leading media outlets, including Radio Ambulante, The New York Times, Telemundo, Univision, NY1 Noticias, The City, The Philadelphia Inquirer, NPR, ABC, LatinFinance, The Marshall Project, El Faro, Bloomberg, Latino USA, and Nieman Lab, among others. 

 At Newmark we’re currently recruiting the ninth generation of Bilingual Journalism students who will graduate in 2025. In 2026, the Bilingual Journalism Program will celebrate its tenth anniversary and, as I reflect on the program while writing this piece, I couldn’t be prouder of this educational journey advancing journalism and what the path promises as we continue to dedicate our work to centering and amplifying the Latino community. 

For questions  about the Bilingual Journalism Program, please email Carmen Graciela Díaz at carmen.diaz@journalism.cuny.edu, and you can contact  Newmark’s Office of Admissions  at admissions@journalism.cuny.edu. 

About the author

Carmen Graciela Díaz is a Puerto Rican journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing and publishing in Spanish and English. With a decade of teaching experience, she is the Director of the Bilingual Journalism Program at CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. Carmen Graciela is the author of “Huele a Bomba: la paradójica esencia del periodismo de Avance,” and she’s currently working on her second book to be published by Editora Educación Emergente. 

 

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