Sunday, April 5, 2009

On-line Magazine Targets Latina Youth

Not too long ago, I wrote about a great magazine for young girls that focuses on identifying and rejecting negative stereotypes in the media in order to help girls develop a positive body image and healthy relationships. As a mami with one daughter, I love reading about programs that help girls and young women develop inner strength and pride in themselves. Recently, I discovered another wonderful magazine, but this one is geared specifically for young Latinas.

Latinitas is the first digital magazine created for and written by Latina youth. Their goal is to empower young Latinas through media and technology. The concept for the webzine began in 2002 by a group of University of Texas at Austin students who recognized the desperate need for a publication that focused on the experiences of Latina youth, and the monthly webzine officially launched in January of 2003. In 2004, they expanded to create another magazine geared for Latina teenagers. The purpose of the webzines is to provide a publication that reflects the interests and needs of young Latinas. According to their web site, Latinitas believes that young Latinas should be exposed to Latina role models and that they do, in fact, want to learn about their culture and history.

In addition, despite the fact that the Hispanic population is booming, statistics show that Latinos make up less than two percent of newsroom staff nationwide. And with the current media crisis (newspapers are quickly going belly-up nationwide!) this percentage is likely to drop even lower. Who then, I have to wonder, is writing about issues facing Latinos today? How many stories and issues are not being discussed because there aren’t enough reporters who care or are interested?

Fortunately, Latinitas (a non-profit) is also responsible for a number of programs that guide young girls interested in the field of journalism, including:

· Club Latinitas, an educational after-school newsroom where Hispanic girls learn the fundamentals of journalism through exciting hands-on activities. Girls in the 4th - 8th grade from local elementary and middle schools participate in the program.

· The Teen Reporter Intern Program, a journalism mentorship program where Latina high-school students are mentored and guided by experienced journalists. We have current openings for high school students who are interested in becoming teen reporters for our magazine.

· And, Camp Latinitas, which inspires girls in grades 4-8th to find their creative expression outlet by producing original media arts projects during the summer. In this 2-week-long day media divas camp program at the Mexican American Cultural Center, girls explore multimedia arts such as photography, writing, design, radio production and film-making.

It is no secret that Latinas today, face incredible challenges. Back in August I wrote about how 53% of Latinas will become pregnant at least once before the age of 20 and have the highest high school dropout rates in the country. But most disturbing to me is the fact that Latinas between the ages of 12-17 have the highest rates of attempted suicide than any other ethnic group. If you haven’t read this post, be sure to do so here.

The Latinitas web site states that, "Latinitas deserve to see their experiences reflected honestly and accurately." I say Hallelujah!

This past February, Latinitas printed and distributed their first paper edition to 30,000 households in Austin and San Antonio. The goal was to provide club members and other young Latinas (most of whom do not have internet access at home) with an example of the webzine that they would have access to on-line.

So for you mamis out there with niñas, I encourage you to visit the Latinitas web site. Both their magazines are available on-line. Check them out for yourself. Who knows? Maybe your daughter is the next Elizabeth Vargas or Sylvia Mendoza...

1 comment:

EurAmer Designs Inc. said...

I am very honored and happy to see that our culture as hispanics are becoming more and more of an essence! I tried to copy and paste your banner and it has not worked for that I can put it on my blog as well...any suggestions?

EurAmer Designs Inc.

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