Behind the Scenes: Hispanic Link News Service

April 10, 2012

Griselda Nevárez started working at Hispanic Link News Service, a national Hispanic newswire based in Washington, D.C., two months ago.

Nevárez, 22, was named a 2012 Chips Quinn Scholar, a program that places a dozen journalists in news organizations across the country to help improve newsroom diversity.

We sit down at her desk in the crowded Hispanic Link office in Logan Circle, which is bursting with stacks of paper and stuffed binders. The fresh-faced reporter talks excitedly of covering national Latino issues. On that particular day, she was working on a story about Rep. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and recent protests over Rubio’s stance against the DREAM Act.

“I really like the whole national aspect of covering Latino issues,” Nevárez said. “I just love being around politics and I try to find a Hispanic angle to stories and represent the Hispanic issues that are important.”

Nevárez is from Arizona, a border state known for its tough immigration laws. Growing up in Arizona, she said she was exposed to many people who passed judgment on Latinos without taking the time to learn about the issues important to them.

“Seeing how people are just very close-minded sometimes, it motivated me to want to become a journalist and represent the Hispanic community and voice their issues,” she said.            

A typical day for Nevárez starts about 9:30 in the Hispanic Link office at 14th and N streets NW. After sifting through e-mails and press releases, she’s usually bustling around the District interviewing leaders of top Hispanic groups, including the National Council of La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens.           

Nevárez publishes about three stories a week and says that with every article, she tries to give a voice to the Hispanic community, something she thinks mainstream media doesn’t do very well.

“Latinos in general are the group that has less coverage. They only think that Hispanics care about immigration and that’s it,” she said. People usually think it’s just immigration, but it’s a wide variety of issues, including education, health care, the elections and voting.”           

The hardest part about working for a Hispanic news outlet is overcoming the stereotype that she’s only trying to report one side of an issue, according to Nevárez.           

“People look at our name and automatically assume we’re for one group, and it’s not like that. We really do work on that because just because we have Hispanic in our name, we don’t want to come off as supporting a certain group,” she said.            

Another challenge is the use of the Web to get Hispanic Link’s message out. Hispanic Link’s Web site is bare and updated infrequently. The newswire has a small local staff — a handful of full-time reporters, interns and editors — and relies on freelancers across the country. The organization does send out a weekly publication, but Nevárez said if the Web site was updated more, it would reach more people.           

Still, she said she believes that as long as Hispanics remain underrepresented in news coverage and newsrooms, ethnic media papers will exist to serve the community in one form or another.

“That’s why Hispanic Link exists, to give a voice to Hispanics and to represent those issues important to them,” she said.

This story is part of a partnership between The Washington Post and students from American University. To read more stories from this collaboration, click here.

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