Latino Voices Join the Blogosphere
Through blogs and online social media, U.S. Latinos offer an alternative to traditional media.
'There is a mental and emotional space where U.S. Latinos live, but so far mainstream media haven't found a way to enter it.'
- Sara Inés Calderón, NewsTaco.com
U.S. mainstream media didn't allow Latinos into their institutions,"
said Sara Inés Calderón, editor of NewsTaco.com. "Blogs have allowed
Hispanics to become a center of news, to provide information, analysis
and opinion from their own perspective."
From its headquarters in
San Antonio and with less than six months in business, News Taco is
constantly being cited by other blogs, and even a few mainstream media
The blog has gotten almost 750,000 hits since Oct. 1,
2010, and has about 1,600 "likes" on Facebook and about 300 followers on
"What we've seen in these six months that we've grown
and evolved is that there is an enormous hunger among Latinos in this
country--from those who have gone to school, those who have doctorates,
to those who dropped out of high school, to see themselves reflected in
the news," said Calderón.
"Not only do we report the news, but we
also comment, critique and share our experience while we are sharing
information," she added.
This experience comes from her
experience as a Latina in the United States, but also from about 10
years of work, according to the Mexican journalist. She says she owes
the success of her blog to the needs of the market – or perhaps the lack
"News Taco could enter the market because there was no
market," Calderón said. "We talk about Latinos in the U.S. and the news
pertaining to this population. There is a mental and emotional space
where U.S. Latinos live, but so far mainstream media haven't found a way
to enter it, and we appeal to that specific niche."
media outlets have tried to reach the U.S. Latino community – and their
pocketbooks – with specialized websites, but in Calderón's opinion,
sites like AOLLatino.com have failed to win the Hispanic market.
that U.S. Latinos have more than $1 billion in purchasing power,
mainstream media want to enter that market, but they don't have the
professionals to do it," said Calderón.
"Latino bloggers are
powerful because we have the information the mainstream media want but
don't know how to get ... they want what we have to offer," she added.
they are looking for more and more Latino writers, bloggers and
professionals who have the experience and wisdom they need to enter the
no secret that Fox News, the company that owns Fox Latino, hasn't
exactly been known for its affinity with the U.S. Latino community, and
has presented the immigrant community in an unfavorable way.
mainstream media have looked to Latino bloggers to fix their mistake of
not paying attention to the Hispanic population for so many years ...
Now they're trying to put a Band-Aid on the decades that they didn't pay
attention to us," said Calderón.
"Meanwhile, News Taco, Being
Latino, and other Latino blogs have been able to grow, because they are
part of the Latino population, its economy, its audience, and the media
that have been ignored," she added.
An alternative to immigration coverage
'I'm not an angry citizen ranting about politics.'
- Adriana Maestas, LatinoPoliticsBlog.com
traditional media cover immigration in a questionable way and often
give credibility to fringe groups, or focus on negative aspects of the
immigration debate. They also use language that isn't accurate or
sensitive," said Adriana Maestas, founder of LatinoPoliticsBlog.com.
blog was born in 2007 with the intention of "presenting critical issues
affecting Latinos in the United States, and showcasing Hispanic leaders
at a local and national level," said Maestas.
Since the Los
Angeles-based blog is in English, it has positioned itself, along with
other Hispanic blogs, as an alternative to the incendiary coverage of
immigration and Latino affairs that is found in some traditional media
in the United States.
Maestas, who works as an online editor for
the University of California at Irvine, spends between six and 15 hours a
week on her blog. She declined to say how many hits she gets a month,
but LatinoPolitics has about 2,600 followers on Twitter.
Although her blog generates "a little" income, Maestas said it "wouldn't be enough to live on."
satisfaction of her work is in "helping inform people and bringing
attention to the issues people can't always find in traditional media
from a Latino perspective."
That's how the UC Irvine graduate in
political science, who also has a master's degree in public policy from
Claremont, describes it.
"My blog comes from the perspective of
someone who has studied this, can analyze it, and has experience," said
Maestas. "I'm not an angry citizen ranting about politics."
added that "immigration issues affect a lot of English-speaking Latinos
even though they're outside of the immigrant experience because they
know people or have friends who have gone through or are going through
this process ... It's an issue that affects the majority of Latinos in
the United States, no matter how many generations they are removed from
the immigration process."
English or Spanish?
'The majority of Latina bloggers are publishing bilingual content.'
- Elianne Ramos, LATISM
agree that English seems to be the dominant language of Latino blogs in
the United States. However, though it may be limited, there is still
room for Spanish-language blogs.
Calderón notes that younger
generations of Latinos in the U.S. are more accustomed to English; many
of their parents lost the practice of speaking Spanish because it was
looked down upon to speak Spanish outside of the home.
people who don't speak Spanish because as children, they were punished
in school for speaking Spanish. Now there are millions of readers who
speak the language, but not well, and feel uncomfortable when there are
people who speak it well," said Calderón.
Although experts agree
that this phenomenon represents a cultural, and even spiritual, loss,
they recognized that it has created space for another phenomenon very
peculiar to Hispanics in the U.S.: "Spanglish" and the inevitable
back-and-forth of English to Spanish to English.
"People pick up
sentences, sayings and words in Spanish and they love that. It makes
them feel like it's their own ... so in this country, they speak 'un
poquito' (a little) Spanish, but not much," Calderón said.
added that "there is a space for Spanish-language media, but the reality
is that fewer and fewer people are capable of speaking Spanish, reading
it and understanding it 100 percent."
According to a survey of
women bloggers conducted last year by Latinos in Social Media (LATISM),
72 percent of their blogs had content in English and 69 percent had
content in Spanish.
"This means the majority of Latina bloggers are publishing bilingual content," said LATISM vice president Elianne Ramos.
my own observation, I think there's more of a tendency to write in
English, and I think that has a lot to do with the audience Latino blogs
are targeting. If they deal with technology, politics or marketing, the
target audience tends to speak or read more in English since a lot of
young people and professionals use that language," she added.
to an AOL poll of 1,967 people in 2010, 46 percent of online Latinos
speak English at home and prefer English-language media, while 23
percent prefer speaking Spanish at home and prefer Spanish-language
media. Thirty-one percent speak both languages at home, and gravitate
toward media in English.
What are Latina bloggers writing about?
'It's a very personal space that I use to share a little of my life.'
- Mariana Pérez, TheDomesticBuzz.com
2010 LATISM poll of 1,000 Latina bloggers found that 62.7 percent deal
with issues of family and motherhood, while 54.4 percent deal with
Latino issues. Technology, marketing, entertainment, art, cooking,
beauty and fashion took a backseat to these issues.
is one of these Latina bloggers who focuses on family and, judging by
the numbers, she does it very well. Her blog, TheDomesticBuzz.com,
receives about 15,000 hits a month and her Twitter account, OhMariana,
has about 11,000 followers.
"It's a very personal space that I
use to share a little of my life – the adventure of being a mom, the
issues that interest mothers and the products and services that a family
uses every day," Pérez said. "A lot of moms at home are looking for a
place where they can share with other moms and talk about their kids,
school and the difficulties we have."
Pérez spends about three
hours on her blog every day and during a phone interview with Al Día,
she realized that she spends almost all day on Twitter. She said she's
connected through her laptop, her cell phone and she always carries her
iPad in her purse.
Pérez credits the success of her blog to the time she's spent on it since its launch in May 2008.
have a really successful blog takes a lot of time because no one is
going to find it if you don't promote it," said Pérez. "You also have to
visit other blogs and leave comments all the time."
sometimes wondered if the time she devoted to her blog was really worth
it, but after three years, she's had the chance to work with several
companies that have provided her with various opportunities and
Her influence has earned her sponsorships to attend
conferences, all expense-paid trips, a swing and other toys her three-
and six-year old kids play with in the backyard, and even a washer and
dryer. All because she reviews household products and toys for kids, and
shares the social media strategy that's made her blog a success.
Her recommendations have even led toy manufacturers to make changes to their models before the final product goes on sale.
addition to these benefits, Pérez receives between $50 and $100 for
each sponsored posting, the banners displayed on her site, and even for
participating in a "Twitter party," a virtual meeting in which
participants discuss a particular issue using "hashtags," or labels, to
distinguish their messages from millions of tweets.
this mother, full-time housewife, expert blogger and liberal arts
graduate, receives earnings of up to $600 a month working on her blog
from her home in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. She warns that this
isn't a fixed income.
On the other hand, what she is gaining from her blog is priceless.
bloggers' are looking for friendships without leaving home. My friends
are on Twitter and on blogs, and a lot people who comment on my blog
have become my friends. Sometimes we talk on Skype and there are others
that I've met in person," Pérez said.
For a while, the
30-year-old Mexican American wasn't sure if she should identify herself
as Latina on her blog, fearing that this might limit her audience.
didn't try to hide it, but I didn't advertise it," said Pérez, who now
describes herself in her Twitter profile as, "Mom, blogger, Latina. Girl
at heart ... and lover of all things related to social media."
wasn't part of the Latina bloggers until recently, but I started to
talk with others on Twitter and now I'm part of that group. I feel
comfortable sharing things about my culture with my readers who before I
felt were going to exclude me for being Latina, and they like it, I
feel that a lot of them want to learn."
Another key to her
success is perseverance. She says that when she stops posting for a
couple of days, which doesn't happen often, people stop visiting her
"Sometimes I feel like taking a vacation, but you can't,"
Perez said. "A blog is like a growing child and sometimes you can't
control it; it's like my third child, and if you don't take care of it
and spend time with it, it won't develop."
This article was shortened from its original length.
Translated by Elena Shore