Diversifying Audiences

This story appeared in the fall 2013 edition of Medill Magazine.

The spanish-language broadcasts, 'Noticiero Northwestern,' continues to expand both news coverage and opportunities for students before and after graduation. 

It all started with a conversation in the McCormick Tribune Center broadcast studio in 2010. Laura Rodriguez (BSJ11) and Gabriela Gonzalez (BSJ11) — both Spanish-speaking Miami natives who were already heavily involved in the Northwestern News Network (NNN) — thought there should be an opportunity to expand Medill’s extracurricular broadcast offerings to include a Spanish-language news program.

“I truly felt that Noticiero Northwestern could fill a void in on-campus media and provide a source of information for international and Spanish-speaking students,” says Gonzalez, who now anchors and reports for WNDU-TV in South Bend, Ind. “We started out with a staff of three. Two of us produced and anchored the show, and we had one reporter.”

They enlisted Medill Assistant Professor and NNN Faculty Adviser Larry Stuelpnagel to oversee the Spanish newscast.

“What attracted me to the idea was the enthusiasm of the students and giving them the experience of working on a newscast targeted at one of the fastest growing audiences in America,” Stuelpnagel says. “Noticiero has the same high production values as all of our NNN programs. Some of the stories are the same, but many are aimed at Hispanic students and issues of importance to the Hispanic community.”

 The weekly online show debuted in January 2011, covering everything from the “snowpocalypse” that canceled classes on Northwestern’s campus and Associated Student Government issues, to the British royal wedding and an ice festival in China.

Producing weekly broadcasts was not without its challenges, but the small staff juggled studio time with the other NNN shows and even garnered a 2011 Chicago/Midwest region college Emmy nomination from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. 

For the founding members who graduated, the Noticiero Northwestern experience proved invaluable.

“During my job search, a news director complimented my ability to report in both languages, saying it’s not easy to find a reporter who can do so,” says Dana Molina (BSJ11), who now reports for KRDO-TV and Telemundo in Colorado Springs, Colo. “The Noticiero Northwestern clips in my resume reel grabbed the attention of the news director who hired me at my current job.”

The show has lived on since that first season, and Stuelpnagel says the new school year will bring a renewed energy as Adjunct Lecturer Jazmin Beltran (BSJ05, MSJ06) joins the effort as a co-adviser.

“My plan is to develop these reporters into true bilingual journalists,” Beltran says. “The business needs these types of journalists, and we have a  responsibility to develop every marketable skill our students can have in order to prepare them for an increasingly competitive field.”