After Advocating for More Latinos in Newsrooms, NAHJ Creates Its Own Digital Platform

Lead Photo: Royalty-free / Getty Images
Royalty-free / Getty Images
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This week, palabra., a new digital platform from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), launched, creating new opportunities for long-form journalism that’s for and by Latinos.

For more than three decades, the Washington, D.C.-based organization has been helping Latino journalists of all levels of experience advance in their careers to widen the representation of Latinos in U.S. newsrooms and increase coverage of the community across mainstream media. By launching palabra., the association aims to continue carrying out that goal in new ways.

“It is a necessary response to a new reality in our business and in our association,” Alberto B. Mendoza, NAHJ executive director and publisher of palabra, tells Remezcla. “More and more journalists find themselves practicing our craft as freelancers or independent journalists. This is often by choice, but these days there are more journalists going out on their own because of the tragic disintegration of the news business model that had worked so well for so long, but no longer applies. We have to be proactive.”

Through palabra., NAHJ will work with freelance and independent journalists, including writers, photographers and videographers, to produce long-form and investigative journalism.

“For us, what has palabra. standing out will be the nod to long-form journalism produced by journalists who understand our community and are well-versed in cultural nuance. Going into the 2020 election and census, we see it as a ‘now or never’ situation,” Mendoza says. “The current administration alone enables dangerous rhetoric against our community. In a heated political climate that’s met with platforms folding, Spanish-language bureaus closing and continued newsroom layoffs that typically impact journalists of color first means there’s no more waiting. Our community needs us to step up now and reclaim our narrative.”

In addition to long-form journalism on hot-button issues that impact our community, the platform will tap into the NAHJ’s own network of thousands of Latino journalists for helpful and inspiring question-and-answers about their work. For instance, palabra.’s first issue included a Q&A with professor and photojournalist Bill Gentile, who produced a documentary about freelancers working in danger zones, as well as with NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang, who has been reporting on the 2020 census and its potential impact on the Latino community.

The outlet also aims to soon publish a podcast called “Asi Fue,” a hat tip toward the late Juan Gabriel, and original video content.

“The Latino voice on the critical subjects of the day merits more attention than the mainstream media has afforded us,” Ricardo Sandoval-Palos, managing editor of palabra., tells Remezcla.

Currently, Sandoval-Palos is the only full-time staff on palabra.’s team. However, the outlet — which aims to provide freelance opportunities for English-writing journalists, though they are open to Spanish-language content as well — does plan on hiring support and development employees to help the contributors.

“The American future is Latino, yet here I am in my fourth decade as a journalist and I still see us running well behind when it comes to representation, across the board, in mainstream media,” Sandoval-Palos says. “… I want to eliminate the excuse from mainstream editors and managers that they just can’t find journalists of color who are able to pull off long-form or investigative journalism, or who don’t have the right broadcast chops.”