"The Latino community here asked us to come, practically begged us for months."
by Jess McCuan . photo by Brent Fleury
Move over, La Voz. In 2010, there will be two Spanish-language newspapers in town. The first, the weekly La Voz Independiente, has been published by Robert McCarson since 2003. The newcomer is Hilda Gurdian’s La Noticia, which rolled out its first Western North Carolina edition on December 9 last year. Gurdian and her husband Alvaro, along with a staff of 25, have been publishing the Charlotte edition of La Noticia weekly for 14 years. This is their first expansion. Gurdian says the number of Asheville-area Latino readers is small but growing, and she sees tremendous potential. Besides, “the Latino community here asked us to come, practically begged us for months,” she says.
The new weekly will cover national issues like immigration reform, education and health, along with hot-button topics like counting Latinos in the 2010 census. Gurdian says the paper, which currently has one reporter and a handful of freelancers in Asheville, will also be “hyperlocal,” family-friendly and community-oriented. “Mothers and fathers can pick it up in the street without any fear,” she says.
Gurdian, who grew up in Venezuela and studied business at Bournemouth College in England, has a background in advertising. For six years after college, she ran an agency that created ads for her family’s regional newspapers and radio stations in Venezuela. But why, in this era of dying newspapers, would anyone place their bets on a new print product? “The Latino community is not a lot into the Internet yet,” she says. “We don’t see that they come to the Internet for news and information on an everyday basis. They still prefer print, and we want to be there for them.” For his part, McCarson, the La Voz publisher, is skeptical of La Noticia’s claim that it has 42,000 Western North Carolina readers. But he does believe that print newspapers are alive and well among Latinos. “Print isn’t dead in the Hispanic world,” says McCarson, a former newspaper reporter who grew up in Brevard. “Hispanics have different reading habits than Anglos do.”
La Noticia doesn’t have an Asheville office yet, but they plan to open one in the spring. In the meantime, the Gurdians, who live in Charlotte, have come to Asheville often to meet with local WNC leaders and groups. Gurdian believes print media is here to stay. She also believes networking—especially in-person meetings—are the key to building any organization anywhere. “I take it as a mission to meet people,” she says. “I’m from South America. I’m an immigrant. I speak with an accent. I look different. I really have to go out and see people, so that they see me too. So that they see that even though I look different on the outside, on the inside, I’m the same like everybody else.”