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Home » To better connect with Spanish-speaking journalists, introducing a Spanish-speaking Poynter

To better connect with Spanish-speaking journalists, introducing a Spanish-speaking Poynter

A Poynter experience can be transformative. Is the training educational? Yes. An incredible networking opportunity? Absolutely. Can it improve a newsroom’s impact, team morale and profitability? Check, check and check.

But above all else, it’s a personal experience. Many participants have compared our training to retreats focused on journalism and their own leadership. And it’s true, we often hear that journalists leave Poynter changed, creating new products, altering their approaches and doing work that has a lasting impact.

But because it’s such an intimate experience, those who do not speak English as their native language may find the experience feels different or incomplete. And so today, for our Spanish-speaking friends and colleagues across the media, we have good news: We’re rolling out training, consulting and coaching for native Spanish speakers that will build on other Spanish-language training and work at Poynter through PolitiFact and MediaWise.

Why is this important? Here’s a quick story:

I was born in Juarez, Mexico, and crossed an international bridge every day — from kindergarten through college — to attend school in the U.S. My classes were in English. Then, after the bell rang, I’d cross the bridge again and return to my Spanish-speaking home in Cd. Juarez. English was technical; it was about academics — a class I needed to pass to get through school. Spanish was home, love and comfort. It was how my family and friends spoke to me and each other. It was an inspirational chat with my mom at our kitchen table that motivated me to pursue a journalism career. We’d talk constantly as we’d slog our way over the bridge on weekdays at 5 a.m. All those conversations in my native language shaped my purpose, my values and who I am today.

There are many of us working in newsrooms who are bilingual and bicultural, and we navigate life in two worlds. Although we may have lived in the U.S. for a long time, we’re still most comfortable with our native language. It’s how we think, how we feel, how we consider ideas and process the world around us.

I sometimes encounter a situation that sparks to mind a Mexican parable*, but such little turns of phrase don’t always land, because — as we know — parables always work best in their native language.

Poynter understands these nuances, and that to better serve bicultural and bilingual journalists we should meet them where they are.

Here’s a key part of our plans: We will go far beyond merely translating our current trainings into Spanish. We plan to fully customize them to better connect with the lived experiences of Latino and Latina journalists. The work that we’ll do with Spanish speakers will be intentional, with an understanding that they navigate newsrooms differently from their peers.

Here is what we are currently prepared to offer, with much more to come as we grow and evolve:

Craft of journalism, across platforms:

We’ll help journalists strengthen their reporting skills, from making an effective pitch, storytelling and editing, to interviewing and investigative basics. Participants will develop critical skills that lead to powerful journalism, including narrowing a story focus to three words and creating engaging stories with strong leads, sound structure and memorable endings. We’ll also cover how to report news and tell stories on multiple platforms, and how to decide which platform might best serve a story.

Ethics and standards:

As part of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter, we’ll review and revise your newsroom’s ethics policies in a collaborative process that includes both management and staff. Training options include “How to Write and Implement Newsroom Policies,” “Building a Culture of Healthy Ethical Decision-Making” and “How to Make an Ethical Decision.” By training leaders and front-line staff to master a clear, five-step process for making good choices in every situation, participants will move away from rule obedience and what-about thinking that can undermine morale.


Poynter’s leadership workshops and programs are centered around growing foundational leadership and management skills in performance management, self-awareness, team-building, conflict management, effective communication and coaching. Our resources include personalized assessments; tools for handling conflict and improving recruitment and retention; and consulting services to strengthen culture, manage change and deliver on organizational strategy.

We can offer these trainings both virtually and in-person to meet your newsroom’s needs.

I’ve worked for nearly 20 years in this industry, with stints in Spanish-speaking media (Televisa, Telemundo and Univision), nonprofits (The Center for Investigative Reporting), public media (NPR), and mainstream television (NBC News). I’ve seen firsthand the power Latinas and Latinos have when embracing our native language. I’ve also had colleagues share their insecurities with the English language, even as they rose to high-ranking positions. Perhaps that feeling might never fully disappear. In fact, perhaps we should fully embrace it — it’s part of what makes us special.

Many of our participants fondly recall their time with us as the “Poynter magic,” which each journalist might define differently, but a common thread is that it’s personal. At Poynter, we realize that today’s newsrooms are as diverse as the communities we aim to cover. Our latest “magic” is designed to better serve Spanish-speaking journalists, who stand to gain more from our trainings than ever before.

As we continue to develop, we also want to hear from you — please tell us more about what you need and how we can help by filling out the survey below. We are here for you. Hasta pronto!

Take our questionnaire for Spanish language training.

*One of my favorites: Camaron que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente. It means that if you sleep on an opportunity, it will float away, but it literally translates as “ Shrimp that sleeps the current takes them away.” It’s better in Spanish, not because of the phrasing or translation, but because culturally we immediately understand its meaning and significance. 

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