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Irene Lopez will be in charge of the 10 youth reporters who will writing for The Back of the Yards Newspaper launching on Feb.17. She has researched different newspapers to use as the model.


Believe or not, a newspaper is launching

by Mariana Mora
Feb 04, 2010


NEWSPAP2

Mariana Mora/MEDILL

A bilingual flyer was distributed to the community to promote the newspaper, which will have articles in Spanish and English.

In an era when newspapers are dying or being replaced by the Internet, The Back of the Yards neighborhood is launching a new one on Feb. 17.

“We already have a Web site and it gives an overview of what we do, but it’s not a newspaper,” said Irene Lopez, youth coordinator for The Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council, or BYNC, who will guide the 10 youths  who will be working as reporters for the newspaper.

Besides, the paper will be delivered free, which will make it more accessible.

“If it comes to my house I would read it. Same thing with the ads,” said Roberto Lara, a Back of the Yards resident.

According to Lopez, the idea of the newspaper arose three years ago when the only newspaper reporting for the neighborhood, The Back of the Yards Journal, moved out. The council has been working on the idea for less than one year.

Susan Malone, former editor of The Back of Yards Journal who is now owner and editor in chief of The Journal News, said she didn’t have a good relationship with the BYNC.

“In order to survive we have to target the areas that want the newspapers,” Malone said. “We still report a little there, but we get very little information from them.”  Malone said there is a lot of news to be covered in the neighborhood.

BYNC President Craig Chico said the council wanted to have a Spanish and English bilingual publication to address a larger audience. “The editor didn’t feel that she could make profitable a bilingual newspaper,” Chico said explaining his issues with The Back of the Yards Journal.

The first Back of the Yards Newspaper will be delivered to 12,000 households and businesses between Racine  and Rockwell avenues and 43rd and 51st streets. It is expected to have 24 to 30 pages with bilingual articles concerning the community.

Right now there are two major Hispanic newspapers in the Chicago area, La Raza and Hoy. However, while more than half of the population in

The Back of the Yards neighborhood is Hispanic, 35.3 percent is black. Many residents live below the poverty level, according to the 2000 U.S. Census information on the BYNC Web site. The area must deal with gang and violence issues.

“[La Raza and Hoy] don’t cover specific issues from The Back of the Yards,” Chico said. “There is no neighborhood media, they are not exclusive.”

The estimated annual cost to operate  the newspaper is $150,000. It will be primarily financed by the BYNC and a $30,000 grant provided by the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, according to Chico.

“We will be looking for additional resources, potential advertisers” Chico said. “Ad revenue will sustain this in the future.”

 “One of the biggest needs this neighborhood has is better communication,” said Adriana Cardona, editor of The Back Of the Yards Newspaper. “There are many programs in the community, but people are not being well informed.”

“I would be interested in community issues,” said Raul Mendez, who works in a cafeteria in The Back of the Yards. “But I don’t read newspapers too much.”

Reporters are to be chosen from a group of grammar and high school students who applied to participate. They are going to receive training, but will be free to report on the issues they choose.

“We want their perspective. The youth are really going to be engaged,” said Chico.

Regarding safety issues, Cardona explained the newspaper is working with the police and will try to keep the reporters within areas they are familiar with.

“They will focus on their schools and their surroundings,” said Cardona.