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New Bilingual Paper Hopes to Give Voice to Latinos

Although they constitute a majority in Santa Paula, Latinos in the small agricultural city have long complained that they have not had a voice in the community.

The editors of the 9,000-circulation Santa Paulan, a free monthly newspaper that publishes its second issue next week, hope to change that perception.

“Since there are no local Spanish-language publications . . . there’s a void there we wanted to meet,” said co-owner George Martinez.

Appealing to Spanish speakers and non-Spanish speakers alike, Martinez and partner Al Valdes note that the publication prints all stories in Spanish and English.

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“We’re all basically alike, so why should we separate ourselves in terms of our information needs,’ said Martinez, a former Watterson College computer instructor. “What the Smith family needs to read on one side of town and what the Villegas family needs to hear on the other side of town is basically the same.”

Indeed, positive reaction to the initial, preelection edition was strongest from the English-speaking population, said Eric Barragan, the Santa Paulan’s assistant editor and advertising manager.

Still, Latino business owners who resisted advertising in the Santa Paula Times, the city’s established English-language twice-weekly newspaper, are pleased that a medium for their message now exists, he said.

“We’re looking to bridge communication between different segments of the community,” he said. “Our philosophy is not to take sides but be an objective journalistic newspaper.”

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The paper’s first edition featured a front-page color photo depicting a cross-section of Santa Paulans. A volunteer editorial board has been established to ensure that the newspaper reflects the community.

Martinez is confident the local economy has room for two newspapers.

“We’re breaking even right now,” he said. “And for a new business, that’s success.”


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