Spring 2015

Bilingual Newspaper Serves Campus and County’s Latino Population

El Leñador Editor-in-Chief Manuel J. Orbegozo looks over the November edition of the Spanish-English newspaper with Layout Designer Lorrie Reyes.

Humboldt State’s Spanish-English newspaper, El Leñador, has expanded its reach into the community, offering local news coverage, features, and opinion pieces to areas of Humboldt County with more prominent Latino populations. The monthly publication features the work of HSU students representing a variety of academic disciplines.

“People are excited about writing for our publication because they can produce stories they’re able to connect with, personally,” says Editor-in-Chief Manuel J. Orbegozo.

Marcy Burstiner, chair of the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication, has long seen a need for a Spanish language newspaper at HSU. When news came in 2013 of HSU’s pending status as a Hispanic Serving Institution, Burstiner felt the time was right. She partnered with Rosamel Benavides-Garb, chair of the Department of World Languages & Cultures, to move forward.

They secured a faculty-student collaboration grant from the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences for students to begin examining the possibilities. Eventually, they worked together to acquire more funding, including $3,780 in alumni gifts from the Humboldt Loyalty Fund, which supports student scholarships, research, academic programs, and other special projects. With that support, they were able to cover the 2013 pilot issue and another year of publications.

Initially, the paper ran as a monthly insert in HSU’s student newspaper, The Lumberjack, until this past October when El Leñador became an independent publication. Now, to survive independently, it will have to develop an ad sales component and incorporate more business planning. But even as a self-sustaining project, Burstiner believes it still has great potential for academic purposes.

“I see El Leñador as an eventual anchor to a bilingual journalism minor,” she says.