¡La prensa en español vale!

The following comments were delivered in Spanish by me when I was NAHJ president during the NAHJ 25th Anniversary Celebration Gala on Saturday, June 16, 2007  in response to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s statement on Spanish language media. The governor stated that for students to get a better grasp of English, they need to “turn off” Spanish language television.” I happen to think the governor had a good point, but my support of his comment was misunderstood in some circles. Hence, this speech (and, in retrospect, my proudest moment as president of NAHJ).

 A translation in English follows the original statement.

California's governor told us the way to learn English is to turn off Spanish language television.
California's governor told us the way to learn English is to turn off Spanish language television.

Gracias a todos.

Antes de empezar, quería decir algo a quienes trabajan en la prensa en español. Mi español no es tan bueno; sobrevivo, pero no vivo. Sin embargo, escribí todo lo que estoy diciendo ahora sin ayuda. Si hay equivocaciones, lo siento.

Muchas personas aquí y afuera de esta conferencia están hablando sobre las palabras del gobernador de California. Yo quiero decir ahora que la prensa en español vale. Vale para nuestra gente que necesita información para sobrevivir en los Estados Unidos. Vale para ellos que no pueden encontrar en la prensa norteamericana noticias sobre sus naciones y sus familias en Mexico, Centroamérica y Latinoamérica. La prensa en español es su conexión con sus familias, con su cultura, con todo que es importante en sus vidas.

No aprenderé el alemán leyendo o viendo la prensa en español. No aprenderé el francés leyendo la prensa en español. Y no aprenderé el inglés. No es su misión.

Sin duda, personas como yo deben ver la televisión en español. Debo hablar y comprender con más confianza la lengua de mis abuelos, de mis padres y de mis hermanos.

Ustedes tienen una misión. Hay personas en los Estados Unidos que no aprecian que nosotros podemos encontrar las noticias en español. La mayoría de ellos no hablan español. También, ellos deben ver esos programas.

¡Estamos aquí! ¡Somos latinos! ¡Somos bilingües! ¡Hablamos español! ¡La prensa en español vale! ¡No estamos avergonzados! Y si no le gusta, ¡adáptese!

Spanish Language Media Matters!

Thank you, everyone.

Before I begin, I wanted to say something to those here who work in the Spanish language media. My Spanish is not that good; I survive, but I don’t live. Nonetheless, I wrote everything I’m saying now without help. If there are mistakes, I’m sorry.

Many people here and outside this convention are talking about the words spoken by the governor of California. I want to tell you that Spanish language media has value. It has value to those of our people who need information to survive in the United States. It has value to those who cannot find, in the American press, news about their countries, or about their families in Mexico, Central America and Latin America. Spanish language media is their connection to their families, to their culture, to everything that’s important in their lives.

I am not going to learn German by reading or watching Spanish language media. I am not going to learn French by reading Spanish language media. And I’m not going to learn English. That is not your mission.

Without a doubt, people like me should watch Spanish language television. I should speak and understand, with greater confidence, the language of my grandparents, of my parents, and of my brothers.

You do have a mission. And there are those in the United States who don’t appreciate that we can get our news in Spanish. The majority of them don’t speak Spanish. They, too, should watch your programming.

We’re here. We’re Latino. We’re bilingual. We speak Spanish. Spanish language media has value. We are not ashamed. And those who don’t like it should adapt.

Published by Olmeda

At-large director on the national board of the Society of Professional Journalists. Former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and of UNITY: Journalists of Color. An extreme moderate, not committed to political ideology. Stepfather to two wonderful daughters. Father to two wonderful sons. Husband. Rogue karaoke singer. Humanist

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