Latino News Network: Planting Seeds In News Deserts



As a new wave of cuts by legacy media add to the spread of news deserts across the U.S. landscape, the Latino News Network (LNN) announces it is expanding its news coverage footprint.

“As other news outlets are forced to retreat, we are meeting the challenge and advancing,” said Hugo Balta, Publisher of LNN. “It’s a presidential election year, the migrant crisis at the border is spilling over cities across the country, COVID is still gripping the community, poverty, unequal access to health care, lack of education, stigma, and racism -coverage addressing the social determinants of health and democracy has never been more important for Latinos.”

LNN’s website is converting from a marketing landing page for the seven independent digital news outlets it oversees to a national news website expanding reporting focused on the Hispanic and Latino communities. “The need is greater than we can provide,” said Balta. Since taking over in 2019, Balta has led the expansion of LNN by adding six full-fledged local news outlets. “The revamped LNN national website will help us accelerate our coverage reach by leveraging what we have learned in the past five years: editorial focus, mission, and collaboration.”

In 2021, Connecticut Latino News, the flagship website of LNN, was one of ten U.S. newsrooms elected to participate in the Solutions Journalism Network’s Advancing Democracy project. The fellowship introduced the principles of solutions journalism to LNN, changing reporting focused on highlighting social issues to reporting on the responses to them. Solutions stories are anchored in credible evidence, explaining how and why responses are working or not working.

In 2022, the Latino News Network, led by Illinois Latino News, was chosen to partake in the nine-month Democracy SOS fellowship, supporting reporters and editors in significantly strengthening journalism’s role in advancing our democracy through innovative approaches that build civic engagement, equity, and healthy discourse. The experience transformed coverage centered on politics to one on how democracy works.

LNN is dedicated to building trust with its audience through collaboration, inclusion, and transparency by:

  • Before making assumptions about what communities need to know, newsrooms commit to genuinely listening to them through surveys and in-person and virtual events in order to provide information that they’re missing.
  • Newsrooms will partner with trusted organizations that help them increase accessibility to the public, broaden the reach of its coverage and prevent misinformation.
  • Our newsrooms see the public as more than just their audience; they are collaborators. Community insight and feedback continually shapes LNN’s work.

“Forming partnerships and collaborating with other newsrooms – big and small – has been essential to LNN’s growth and mission to provide greater visibility and voice to the local Latino communities we serve,” said Annabel Rocha, Writer/Editor for Latino News Network Midwest. 

Through the support of fellowships from the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism and the Journalism & Women Symposium, Rocha led a series on period poverty by partnering in part with WBEZ, Chicago. 

“This spirit of teamwork is an element I’ve brought into my new role as Reproductive Justice Reporter at Reckon News,” said Rocha. “I’m always open to opportunities to expand the way we think of news, and happy to work with other journalists, organizations, advocates, and influencers to produce content that reflects the ever-evolving reproductive justice landscape in the U.S.”

“We have also had the privilege of supporting journalism classrooms and students at Boston University and Roger Williams University through publication and guidance,” said Belen Dumont, Writer/Editor for Latino News Network East. 

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“It’s been a great pleasure working alongside such dedicated and inclusive efforts towards our shared mission of supporting, informing, and empowering historically underserved communities across the East Coast,” said Dumont.

LNN’s mission is to provide greater visibility and voice to Hispanics-Latinos, amplify the work of others in doing the same, give young journalists mentoring and real work experience, and apply the principles of solutions journalism in its investigative reporting.

“The Hortencia Zavala fellowship helped me grow as a journalist by unpacking traditional ideas surrounding objectivity and sharpening my storytelling abilities to deconstruct inaccurate narratives about communities of color,”’said Jacqueline Cardenas, a student at DePaul University.

Cardenas was part of the 2022 class of the Journalism Camp: covering race, ethnicity, and culture, led by Balta. The course is designed to go beyond the inverted pyramid of basic news writing in examining the terminology, usage, and word choice of stories providing greater visibility and understanding of deep-rooted inequities in all aspects of society.

“LNN is learning. We don’t have all the answers to making sustainable quality journalism. But, I’ll tell you this: based on our experience, collaboration is key to meeting our business and journalism goals,” said Balta. “We’re looking for partners, storytellers – let’s go get it!”

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About Latino News Network

The Latino News Network was founded in 2012 by Diane Alverio, a veteran journalist and former National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) president. LNN launched with Connecticut Latino News (CTLN) and Massachusetts Latino News (MALN).

In 2019, Hugo Balta, veteran journalist, media advocate, and twice president of the NAHJ, took over LNN operations. Under his leadership, the network expanded to include New Hampshire Latino News (2020), Rhode Island Latino News (2021), Illinois Latino News (2021), Wisconsin Latino News (2022), and Washington Latino News (2023).

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