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5 Star Stories: La Prensa Latina Media celebrates 25 years

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Action News 5 is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a 5 Star Story commemorating the legacy of La Prensa Latina, the region’s largest bilingual newspaper.

La Prensa Latina has highlighted some of the most critical moments in local, national, and international history for the Mid-South’s Latino and Hispanic communities for the past 25 years.

“This anniversary is a milestone for the company,” said editor-in-chief Vivian Fernandez-de-Adamson.

She says it all began in 1996 as a free, local, Spanish-print newspaper founded by East High School and University of Memphis graduate Sidney Mendelson, after he saw some missing links in local news coverage.

“Education, community, economy, health,” as Fernandez-de-Adamson listed their areas of interest.

When the paper first emerged, the then Memphis City Schools system incorporated the weeklies into the school system’s curriculum.

“Having La Prensa Latina as a learning tool for kids to learn English or Spanish, also. So that’s why La Prensa Latina is bilingual,” said Fernandez-de-Adamson.

La Prensa Latina reader, father, and husband Juan Carlos Castillo says in daily life, the paper serves as a bridge between our Spanish and English-speaking communities.

“Some people don’t speak English well and some people don’t speak Spanish well,” said Castillo. “Our boys, sometimes they speak more English than Spanish and it’s better so they can understand better, so they can learn both languages.”

The paper’s operations manager, Jairo Arguijo, says distribution is strategic with weekly print copies delivered across the Mid-South.

“Such as those racks that you see or maybe it’s counter space at a local Hispanic grocery store,” he explained.

But he says it’s a three-pronged approach to reach the community.

“We like to play that part between our publication or website and social media, so it’s not just a weekly paper with the 24-hour news. Coverage includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,” Arguijo said.

La Prensa Latina has a consistent presence at community events and you can get your weather in Spanish on their Facebook page. La Prensa Latina Media reaches 99,000 people daily, from Kentucky to Jackson, Tennessee, both in print and online. They’re also plugged into an international news engine to connect the community to the rest of the Spanish-speaking world.

“So, you get fresh content, fresh news 24-7, and then we also play a part of making sure that we contribute to a lot of local causes,” said Arguijo.

Over the years, the paper has been a critical connection, publishing need-to-know information about the biggest stories of our times, from a 2017 effort to deport children of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to translating life-saving details about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a very strong relationship with the Mexican consulate, with the health department. Actually, we were translating a lot of their press conferences, you know, that they used to have every week,” added Fernandez-de-Adamson.

One of the hottest issues to fly off the shelves in recent years was the March 2020 paper, “Welcome to Memphis, The New Wild West.”

The current Hispanic Heritage Month issue is also a top draw with its ‘who’s who’ component.

“It’s colorful. I think people want to read it because it’s their heritage and they want to see local leaders, local people being showcased,” said Arguijo.

He says the jobs, varieties, and events sections are also page-turners. Castillo says that keeps readers coming back to learn what’s going on.

The goal is to allow everyone to feel an instant connection to the Mid-South.

“Even if they are from another state and they’re coming up to Memphis for the first time, they see a Hispanic publication, they pick it up to make sure to get what they need to know, what hospitals, what community services there are,” said Arguijo.

Fernandez-de-Adamson says it’s about reaching out to all of Memphis beyond the Hispanic and Latino communities.

“At La Prensa Latina, we want to embrace the community as a whole, not just the Hispanic community because we like to celebrate diversity. So we want to embrace that diversity of Memphis,” she said.

Be sure to pick up the 25th-anniversary issue of La Prensa Latina. Our own Chief Meteorologist Ron Childers is profiled.

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