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SPJ statement on changes at Al Día


2/10/2023


Updated at 8:55 p.m. EST to clarify that Al Día is not “closing” and adding statements from Dallas Morning News executive editor and SPJ national president.

Updated at 5:10 p.m. EST to include statement from Dallas Morning News CEO.

CONTACT:
Claire Regan, SPJ National President, cregan@spj.org
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Specialist, 317-920-4785, zberg@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists is disappointed to learn that five-member staff of Al Día, the Dallas Morning News’ Spanish-language newspaper, will be disbanded at the end of the month.

Al Día has been covering the Hispanic community in North Texas for nearly two decades. On Monday, the staff members were told they will be reassigned to different teams in the newsroom.

"It gives the appearance that it is not of value to the community it's supposed to serve. We hope the publisher and editors at the Dallas Morning News will reconsider their decision," said Eleanore Vega, chair of SPJ's Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and Daniela Ibarra, vice-chair and SPJ director at-large.

The reassigning of Al Día staff is part of a worrying trend of news publishers cutting Spanish-language coverage. In 2019, The New York Times, BuzzFeed News Mexico and HuffPost Mexico stopped producing Spanish-language coverage. Tribune Publishing closed Hoy, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper in Chicago. Although content is sometimes still published in Spanish, as will be the case at the Dallas Morning News, it is no longer original reporting.

"SPJ recognizes the value of Spanish-language media in America and urges managers to prioritize Spanish-language storytelling on all platforms," said SPJ National President Claire Regan. "It’s our responsibility as journalists to ensure diverse communities are informed and have a voice."

Dallas Morning News CEO Grant Moise said in a prepared statement, "The Dallas Morning News and Al Día remain committed to reaching the growing Hispanic audience in North Texas. We will continue to publish Al Día every Wednesday in print and aldiadallas.com will continue to publish daily. The Al Día team is now reporting into the same content areas as reporters from The Dallas Morning News in an effort to better serve the growing Latino community in North Texas. This community is not only our future, but it is the present, and it deserves enhanced coverage from our newsroom."

Katrice Hardy, Dallas Morning News executive editor, told SPJ via email that stories will "continue to be written and published in Spanish as they always have." She said the move is to have Al Día staff integrate into other teams around the newsroom for two reasons: "So that all the DMN teams begin to learn how to write for this audience and so that Al Día has the chance to write more enterprising content. Al Día staff will still write content in Spanish. But in this new structure, other staff on their teams will also write stories with this lens and we will have other stories to augment the traditional Al Día content, which will remain mostly local and not wire."

Hardy said the move will allow more English content to be translated into Spanish and the Al Día team will continue to write and produce in Spanish as they always have. "This integration will allow us to have stories for ALL in our Hispanic audience, those that are not bilingual and those who are, which we had not focused on the latter much at all before."

According to Census data, the Hispanic population is the largest minority group in the United States and Spanish is the most common non-English language spoken in U.S. homes. Not providing news content in Spanish does a disservice to a large portion of Americans. Furthermore, false political information is more likely to reach U.S. Latinos and Spanish-language mis- and dis-information often goes unchecked. This is why it is important to provide more news in Spanish, not less.

In a statement about Al Día, the Dallas News Guild said, “Dismantling this team affects not only the employees but also the entire Hispanic community of North Texas.”

SPJ values original content produced in Spanish and hopes more Spanish-language news will be published across the U.S.

SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.

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