New bilingual paper hits the streets
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Luis Polar first got interested in newspapers when he was 12.
In school in San Jose, Costa Rica, one of his class projects was to create a mock newspaper. Polar called his El Mundo, which means “the world” in Spanish. He cut out newspaper articles from different publications and pasted them into his paper.
Polar later moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and went on to study communications in college. He eventually arrived to Colorado to attend Colorado Mountain College. He subsequently worked for an architecture firm before starting La Mision in 2001. It was a nonprofit that emphasized and relied on contributions from the community.
La Mision was purchased in 2006 by Swift Communications, which owns the Post Independent. La Mision’s name was changed to La Tribuna. Swift closed La Tribuna at the end of last year along with two other weekly newspapers in Colorado due to declining ad revenue and the poor economy. But Polar says he didn’t spend a second wondering what he was going to do.
“As soon as I was out of a job, my first thought was, ‘OK, I need to launch another newspaper,'” he said. “Not only another newspaper, but I need to go back to my roots, where the content comes from the community.”
That’s what Polar is doing with La Union. Its first edition was printed Thursday, featuring a front page article by community collaborator Cristina Flores. It’s about a Roaring Fork Valley couple who are descendants of the Zapotec culture and grew up in San Baltazar Loxicha in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Polar is La Union’s only paid employee. The collaborators are not full-time journalists. They’re people that want to share something, he said.
Polar believes the business can work because, with only him, there is less overhead cost than was associated with La Tribuna.
The first edition of La Union has 12 pages, contributions from six collaborators, and about 15 paid ads. About 2,500 copies were distributed from Aspen to Parachute. La Union will come out the first and third Thursdays of the month. It’s run under an LLC for now, but Polar plans on looking into turning it into a self-sustaining nonprofit after the paper becomes established for some time.
Meanwhile, former La Tribuna reporter Veronica Whitney also didn’t waste any time starting a new venture. She created the Spanish-language weekly El Montanes by approaching Vail Mountaineer publisher Jim Pavelich. El Montanes is still a one-woman-show for the most part, but Whitney said El Montanes has increased to 34 ads for its April 22 edition compared to 13 in its first edition on Feb. 11. The paper is delivered with the Vail Mountaineer and is still eight pages.
“We’ve been doing great,” she said. “We’re very healthy, and hopefully soon we will jump to 12 pages because we’ll have so many ads.”
Whitney said the community response has been great, and, although the paper is based in Edwards, she spends a lot of time in Garfield County, a place she has a close connection to. El Montanes puts out 8,000 papers in Eagle County with the Vail Mountaineer, and Whitney delivers 2,000 as a stand-alone paper to Garfield County.
“I think the paper has been really, really well received in both counties, and it’s becoming a regional paper,” she said.
There is a bit of competition between the two papers, but Whitney said La Union will rely on contributions from the community with less of a focus on more traditional news, whereas El Montanes features local news and picks up international news stories.
Polar said he picked the name La Union because, “I want this paper to reflect unity. Unity among cultures, unity among races, and unity among people.” The paper’s logo includes red, blue, green and yellow stars. Polar said the four colors represent in whole or in part colors on the flags of every country in the American continents.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
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