These Two Immigrant-Run Publications Aim To Fight Against Misinformation

Photo courtesy of belatina.com belatina, latinx
Photo courtesy of belatina.com

For four years the news industry was vilified, leaving many people doubting what they were reading, or, worse — believing outrageous claims purposely made to tarnish the industry’s credibility. This not only caused skepticism but also created dangerous conspiracies that led plenty of people to stray. 

It’s not to say that fake news doesn’t exist because it does. Oh, does it ever. But spewing hate on a news source just for the sake of it can cause plenty of confusion for many people. This, unfortunately, sucked many into a crushing vortex filled with misinformation.

On the other hand, many were also left uninformed on issues pertinent to their wellbeing due to language barriers or lack of reporting. Such was the case with immigration issues, which have become a hot topic in recent years. 

Thankfully, programs such as the Google News Initiative, launched in 2018, exist. Google News Initiative or GNI is, according to their site, an effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. Through this effort, the GNI Startup Lab was created. It’s a six-month program helping publishers evolve their news products and accelerate their paths toward financial stability. 

The GNI Startup Lab has aided some publications in sharing pertinent information with the community. 

Publications such as Enlace Latino NC and Borderless Magazine have benefited from the effort. We had the opportunity to speak with a co-founder of each publication. 

Connecting the community with vital information

Enlace Latino NC created public service journalism in Spanish on immigration issues, state policy, government, community, and state affairs of North Carolina. 

It was founded by both Paola Jaramillo and Walter Gomez and serves the Latinx community of North Carolina, which represents about 10 percent of the state’s entire population. 

“Alongside Walter, we uncovered information that was missing year after year and that traditional newspapers seldomly covered. So, we researched on how to launch a non-profit journalism business even though, at first, we had no idea that one could do a non-profit journalistic company,” Jaramillo told BELatina News. 

Jaramillo emigrated from Colombia over 20 years ago and cultivated her life in the United States. She sought opportunities that wouldn’t have been readily available for her in South America.

As is often the case, her immigrant experience exposed her to various professions unrelated to what she had originally envisioned, but that is often part of the process to success as an immigrant in this country. 

“When I arrived in North Carolina, I worked many odd jobs.  Then, I had the opportunity to enter the newspaper named La Conexion, which is a newspaper in Spanish. I stayed there until the opportunity opened.”

Needless to say, the strength and pride that flourishes from those experiences are glorious.

Jaramillo used tools that were already prominent in the Latinx community to share the news. This built trust among her readers and reinforced the credibility of the medium she co-founded. Enlace Latino NC even started sharing news with their rural audience through WhatsApp.

Photo courtesy of enlacelatinonc.org
Photo courtesy of enlacelatinonc.org

“The WhatsApp group we created in February 2020 only had about 50 people. However, the group is now full, and we are looking for other ways to share our news directly,” Enlace Latino NC‘s co-founder said. 

By using WhatsApp, Enlace Latino NC had the chance to reach the Latinx community more directly and allow them to combat the misinformation that is often spread through the popular app.

“We pay attention to what is said through Whatsapp,” Jaramillo added. “We see the questions asked and make sure we get any of their concerns answered.”

“We will do our due diligence and consult experts, so we can answer their questions about the news properly.”

A human approach to news reporting

Similarly, Michelle Kanaar and Nissa Rhee helped create Borderless Magazine

Kanaar was born to immigrant parents; her mother is from Bogota, Colombia and her father is Dutch. 

She has trained all her professional life to create a platform that uplifted people.

“I studied Middle Eastern studies and Arabic in my undergrad, and then I went to graduate school for photojournalism,” she said. ” I always really like being able to get back in and see what people’s everyday lives look like. “

Borderless Magazine serves the immigrant communities of Chicago, and it’s also a space where freelance reporters are trained on how to properly cover immigration-related news. 

Both co-founders of Borderless Magazine also created the Immigration Reporting Lab to teach other news organizations how to accurately and humanely report on immigrants and undocumented people.

Photo courtesy of Borderless Magazine belatina, latinx
Photo courtesy of Borderless Magazine (Danbee Kim)

This publication aligns with what Kanaar had always envisioned for herself. 

“I knew I wanted to do social justice journalism,” she said when asked about how she went about creating this space. ” This is my dream job; I always wanted to do immigration news in a more thoughtful, contextualized way.”

She left for Chicago to pursue the Chicago Reporter, a well-known magazine covering race, politics, and more. She ended up covering education, immigration, and housing.

“I think a big part of why I was covering immigration is because I’m the child of immigrants, and I speak Spanish fluently,” Kanaar added.

“We have a big Latinx community here. I think people don’t realize that here in the Midwest, in Chicago, we have 1.6 million immigrants in the metro area, and 25 percent of households speak Spanish.”

One of the main emphases of Borderless Magazine’s venture was to ensure that all the information was fact-based, making it a trustworthy source. 

“I think people are more open to seeing new, independent organizations in general. I think there was some hesitancy there, but we’ve been working in journalism for a decade or longer. 

“They can see that we bring journalistic integrity.”

A unique opportunity

Both publications were created in an altruistic manner to provide information that can be deemed as life-saving in some events. But the challenges encountered prior to obtaining the help from GNI were ever-present. 

Each co-founded used GNI’s resources to their advantage. Nevertheless, they also immersed themselves in the generous teachings of this one-of-a-kind Google effort. 

Jaramillo and Gomez, for instance, used it to familiarize themselves with learning how to run a non-profit organization. 

“All of the behind-the-scenes parts of the business is new to me, so there’s been tremendous self-study,” Jaramillo shared. 

“Unfortunately, there aren’t many people in the Latino community in the United States to reach regarding our specific publication’s concerns. “

“We could not have done it without the accompaniment of a group of wonderful people, including GNI, who have supported and guided us throughout this process.”

Kanaar also learned how to administrate the publication as a business rather than just think like a journalist. 

“The boot camp provided us with money and a coach that we could work with one-on-one to tailor everything to what our needs were,” Borderless Magazine’s co-founder said. 

Though there’s been a decline in the journalism industry, hundreds of new journalists have been created. So, the need to aid those in the world of informing is great. 

“We want to change the way we’re doing journalism, but a big part of that also is having immigrants and people of color being represented in journalism and the media landscape,” Kanaar said. 

Both publications continue to grow and are not letting anything get in their way. They are continuously informing themselves as well as avoiding any challenges that may present themselves. 

Nothing is easy in this world, and that’s fine. All you have to do is put in a lot of your effort and determination, and, ultimately, you have to jump in, ask, investigate, and get advice.

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