University of Nevada, Reno is one of the 2015-16 winners of the Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education. See all 11 winners and the Honorable Mentions.
- Donica Mensing, Associate Professor and Academic Chair, Reynolds School of Journalism, @donica
- Vanessa Vancour, Coordinator, Nevada Media Alliance, Reynolds School of Journalism, @VanessaVancour
- Kelly Scott, Executive Editor, Reno Gazette-Journal, @KellyAnnScott
- Kurt Mische, President and CEO, KNPB, @KNPB
- Mario DelaRosa, Editor/Publisher, Ahora Latino Journal, @LatinoJournalNV
- Jeff Cotton, Director, OpenSkyRadio Corp, KXNV FM, @KXNV891FM
View the Noticiero Móvil project page here.
Describe your project as a tweet
@RSJNevada students piloting a bilingual program to create political coverage & events for Latino community for 2016 election #tuvozvale
estudiantes @RSJNevada crean un programa bilingüe para la comunidad Latina proporcionando noticias antes de las elecciones 2016 #tuvozvale
What are you going to test?
Washoe County is 23.3 percent Latino, yet there is very limited Spanish language news available for this segment of the Northern Nevada community.
We plan to test a project to engage Latino adults through events journalism, specifically a series of four monthly “pop-up newsroom” (Noticiero Móvil) events to be held at locations in the Hispanic community. These events will feature bilingual student journalists discussing their reporting of local and state government and political stories that affect Latinos, live interviews with newsmakers of interest to the Latino community, and structured citizen conversations on current affairs.
How will the experiment be conducted?
We will establish a Spanish-language reporting team of bilingual University of Nevada students (both from the Reynolds School of Journalism (RSJ) and other campus units), to cover government and political news that affects the Latino community. Students will work under the direction of RSJ faculty, in close consultation with RGJ, KNPB and Univision journalists. We will consult with the campus Latino Research Center to determine best practices for engaging with the community and assessing community concerns (to drive coverage planning).
Students in our Nevada Media Alliance (NVMA) news service are currently covering government and political stories in collaboration with RGJ and KNPB, so we have a foundation. This experiment would add Spanish-language coverage of live news that transcends mere translation of stories produced in English, but would emphasize stories and angles of particular impact to the Latino community.
These stories will be published on the NVMA website and on the sites of our media partners (if they so choose, provided they meet partner editorial standards), but the heart of this experiment will be the live events in a pop-up newsroom at various sites in the Latino community. These include a church, a Hispanic grocery, a park, and a popular restaurant. These events will feature student journalists sharing their stories, live interviews with newsmakers such as Latino politicians and legislators, and audience involvement. It’s our plan that KNPB would telecast these events on its PBS-Vme Spanish-language channel. There would be a robust social media campaign to promote the events.
How will you know if it worked or not?
The largest challenge we face will be building awareness of the project and driving people to events. Metrics will include: event attendance; social media sharing and commenting; traffic and usage of the related Spanish-language Web content.
Besides these metrics, we will judge success by whether we’re able to sustain the effort beyond the life of this grant. We believe the need for this project is so great we will actively seek additional funding and contributions from our media partners to continue the work. We will also measure success by impact on student perceptions of the community and their career goals.
How is this project unique and innovative?
This initiative would be a first for our school, our media partners and our community. Yes, the local paper has previously translated some of its coverage into Spanish and the public TV station offers Spanish-language content on a digital channel (that is not locally originated). But never before has there been a unified effort to create Spanish-first content designed for the local Latino community. And the events journalism approach takes the news to the community.
This offers our bilingual students an opportunity to use their knowledge and talents to engage with the Latino community. It’s a new focus in training these students, empowering them and leveraging their cultural expertise to play a leading role in media innovation.
This project stretches our knowledge of events journalism, seeking to emphasize live news reporting at the event, in contrast to the on-stage interviewing that tends to characterize the genre as practiced by most mainstream news entities. Significantly, it offers both the RSJ and our media partners an opportunity to test events journalism as a tool for engaging with ethnic communities.
This project will also provide a live lab where student journalists and professionals can diversify their skillsets and develop new approaches to news coverage of and engagement with culturally diverse communities. A mindful approach to multilingual storytelling has implications far beyond Northern Nevada.
Over time, this model offers promise of bringing journalism to geographically and culturally isolated communities.
What could go wrong?
The biggest challenge we foresee is gaining traction within the Hispanic community. While we will be working with researchers and media professionals who are well known and respected in this community, expecting our audience to immediately engage, trust the content and come to our events will be a challenge. Our audience growth will take time – likely more time than normal for the digital project to get traction and momentum.
We hope that by working through community leaders and ambassadors, we will begin to reach an engaged audience who will share the word of the project on our behalf. At that point the challenge shifts to getting meaningful feedback and measuring the effectiveness of our efforts.
The University of Nevada, Reno team provided an update on its project in a 2017 report.
Update: What has been the greatest impact of your project?
When we applied for the 2015 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education grant, we wanted to test three areas: (1) Are our students at the Reynolds School of Journalism interested in developing skills to become bilingual, Spanish-English reporters? (2) Is there an appetite from local media organizations to collaborate to diversify the kinds of stories they’re producing? (3) Is there a need for bilingual reporting in our community? Each question resulted in an emphatic “yes,” though as we’ll note later, we still have a long road ahead with question three.
Since the project launched in the summer of 2015, students developed the brand Noticiero Móvil with its logo, website and social media channels which include Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They have created rich, bilingual content including an in intimate look at the lives of local day laborers in a project titled “The Workers of La Piedra” and a series of feature stories, including a bilingual video about a local Guatemalan baker who fled his home country seeking asylum. The comment sections for these pieces in particular highlight the need for more content like this in our community as they sparked lively debate and conversation.
Academically, in the fall of 2017 RSJ hired an assistant professor in Spanish-language media, a crucial addition as we work to launch a degree in bilingual media in our program. One of our proudest accomplishments has been establishing a paid, bilingual student reporter position with KUNR Reno Public Radio. The inaugural reporter was recently recognized with a regional Murrow award in best sports reporting for her story on Reno 1868 FC. Since January 2017, we’ve produced an impressive array of diverse, bilingual stories for an English media partner. We are paving the way nationally for training bilingual journalists since very few models exist.
In the first two years of the program, we also invested heavily in community outreach with grassroots efforts to build meaningful collaborations with local Hispanic business owners and their patrons. These relationships directly contributed to the success of our listening parties during which we invited critical feedback on the stories we produced. Throughout the last year, the energy has shifted and community partners are seeking support from our program director. She has been invited on numerous occasions to meet with local organizations, ranging from non-profits to local government, to shed insight as to how they might better engage with the local Hispanic, Spanish-speaking community, using our model as a guide. This has been an unexpected outcome of our experimental project. While our organization is reaching the point of gaining local brand recognition and community respect, we recognize we still have a lot of work to do to gain real community trust from our Spanish-speaking population. It is abundantly clear we must continue to invest time and resources to listen and nurture the relationships we’ve built.
We are currently developing a strategic vision for the next major phase of this effort, which is to make Noticiero Móvil a sustainable, independent local media organization with a broader network of community and media partners. Recognition from entities outside of the university has encouraged us to think bigger.