Timely Tip: Writing for a Bilingual Publication


The cover of El Leñador, a Latino bilingual student newspaper
The cover of El Leñador, a Latino bilingual student newspaper for Humboldt State University.

Timely Tip: Writing for a bilingual publication

By Javier Rojas

Javier Rojas Humboldt State
Javier Rojas
Humboldt State

With the ever-growing population of students attending college across the country comes the question of expanding coverage. Whether your campus is big or small, there is always a story out there waiting to be told to a tailored specific audience.

As the current editor-in-chief of El Leñador, a Latino bilingual student newspaper, I have learned to reach out not only to the students and faculty campus to tell their untold stories but the local community as well. For many on campus, having a secondary paper oriented toward them is a platform to read their stories and read about topics that mainly pertain to that audience.

But covering stories for a bilingual publication also comes with the need to be culturally sensitive with topics. Last month, we did a story on Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, which to the Latino population campus is a culturally misrepresented event. Our editorial staff put that into consideration when covering this story and took a different angle on it.

Instead of publishing a feature story on Day of the Dead, we decided to inform our audience and the community about its history and meaning. This ended up being a very well received piece, and along the way we learned a lot more about the event than I would have ever thought.

As an editor for a Latino bilingual paper, I also face the decision of whether we will be solely covering issues that pertain to our audience. Alienating another audience is something that you should always try to think about and weigh wether a story is worth featuring.

A past example of this was when we covered a political rally led by the Black Student Union on campus. This got much attention and was the talk of campus for days. While our paper is oriented towards Latinos, it would have been a disservice not to feature this story. We ended up growing our audience by including coverage of the rally and decided to include more “culturally pertinent” stories in our upcoming issues.

This move has made El Leñador more than just a voice for the growing Latino community on campus. It’s now a platform for all underrepresented students of color to be heard. While our main coverage will always focus on Latinos, we have decided to expand our coverage to issues that matter to an ever-growing audience.