The New York Times has announced that they are shuttering their Spanish-language division after three years, accumulating nearly a thousand pieces of original reporting and opinion work. The paper is one of several that opened up Spanish-language departments following the election of President Trump, in response to his quickly escalating anti-immigrant, racist rhetoric.
“While the Español site did attract a new audience for our journalism and consistently produced coverage we are very proud of, it did not prove financially successful. Our strategy is now focused on our subscription-driven core news report for a global audience,” said a spokesperson for the Times in a statement.
Vox cited a statistic indicating that bilingual Spanish speakers tend to read English-language news sources to get their daily dose of news, suggesting that the Latinx readership simply wasn’t there for the Times en Español. This could mean that either there is a clear a language preference with news or perhaps that publishers have an opportunity to invest in marketing and raise the visibility of Spanish-language divisions. The publication will continue to offer translations for some of its English-language pieces and will maintain its focus on Latin American and Latinx issues.
One of The New York Times en Español’s most popular articles of all time was a piece exploring why official documents don’t allow for accents, an idea that sprung from section editor Paulina Chavira’s Twitter account during the World Cup, after she noticed that the Mexican National Soccer Team’s players were wearing jerseys without accents over the appropriate letters in their names. (It all has something to do with the fact that typewriters weren’t designed with the ability to include accents; accentless names in a digital age are essentially a relic of the past.)
Ha sido un camino de mucho aprendizaje y, como bien lo dijo @patynietog, no podría estar mejor acompañada en este periplo. Sigo creyendo que escribir en español siempre es un buen negocio… y el tiempo lo dirá.
— Paulina Chavira (@apchavira) September 17, 2019
To Chavira’s delight, the team took note and issued new jerseys. “A simple accent may seem trivial for a lot of people, but its presence or its absence changes the way we pronounce a word, and sometimes even its meaning,” she later told the Times.
She brought the same quality of unwavering clarity to her position as editor of en Español, something that came through in her announcement of its closing. “Ha sido un camino de mucho aprendizaje y, como bien lo dijo @patynietog, no podría estar mejor acompañada en este periplo. Sigo creyendo que escribir en español siempre es un buen negocio… y el tiempo lo dirá,” Chavira tweeted, reaffirming her belief that time will prove that Spanish-language publications will find their space. “Mientras tanto, gracias a todas las personas que nos leyeron, comentaron y cuestionaron: gracias por acompañarnos en estos años. Gracias por la oportunidad y gracias por todos los aprendizajes.”