17 Years Bridging Communities

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La Prensa de Minnesota celebrates 17 years of growth.

It was the month of July, 1991 when La Prensa de Minnesota was born. It was an experiment, an attempt to create the first bilingual (English-Spanish) newspaper in the Twin Cities. It was the first real attempt to bridge two communities Anglo-Latino and create a newspaper that would serve both communities as a whole. The result, after 17 years of hard work, is no longer a experiment, it’s a reality with strong political opinion, a voice for its community and a reality for Latinos in Minnesota.

Some of us were nothing but schoolboys at the time La Prensa hit the streets for the first time. Others never thought that, some day, they would become part of the staff of La Prensa, the first 100% bilingual newspaper in Minnesota. But for the Latino community, the birth of La Prensa de Minnesota became a real benchmark for the community.

After the merger with LCN Media, on January 2006, a lot of questions began to rise. Conflict, change and challenges came knocking at the door and how were we to overcome them? What were we to do to help the image of La Prensa rise again and launch it into the 21st Century? It wasn’t easy, but after hours of hard work, plans and errors, finally, 18 months later, the product is unique and is quickly becoming one of the most influential newspapers in the Twin Cities.

But to talk about La Prensa we need to hear from the very man who founded it, Mr. Mario Duarte; and the man who leads it, Mr. Alberto Monserrate, President and CEO of LCN Media. We asked them for a few lines and they told us two different stories: the story of what it was, as Mario Duarte recounts it; and the story of what it will be, as imagined by Alberto Monserrate.

Mario Duarte: The Pioneer

La Prensa de Minnesota was born as a need for the Latino community. At the time, there was no ethnic media covering Latinos in the Twin Cities and the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune published a few articles, from time to time, portraying only the negative side of the community.

I was convinced then, as I am today, that there are good people, as well as bad people, in every community. That the good people are a good example and the bad people are precisely that, bad people, so I decided to look for the good people and bring them to the public.

Those were hard times. Sometimes the challenges we had to gather the information, put it together, design ads, put the paper together, print it and distribute it, were more than challenging.

Now, after 17 years, I think La Prensa de Minnesota has reached its goal to truthfully inform about the news and events that matter to the Latino community and how those events affect our ever growing community. Now, its format, 100% bilingual, is a corner stone in the bridge that unites the Anglo and Latino community as a whole.

The prizes, the awards, the recognitions received both locally and nation wide are mute witnesses to the credibility and sense of community of our newspaper. Our distribution network, which includes over 150 cities in the state, thanks to the public library system, has allowed us to reach each and every single Latino community in those cities.

We have nothing more than to expect that our growth keeps the same pace and that our services, circulation and distribution -that are soon to reach the south-east portion of the state- will give us new opportunities for business and open bigger and broader windows for us as a bridge and as a more effective and complete media.

Alberto Monserrate: The Visionary
La Prensa de Minnesota, July 2012

La Prensa de Minnesota has become one of the most important newspapers in the Twin Cities. It is now serving both, the Latino community –that has reached over 500,000 people — and the whole community of Minnesotans that are looking for a truthful picture of the news. Its weekly circulation has reached 50,000 copies on the streets but, its web site has reached over 300,000 visits a week and keeps growing steady. And though the newspaper is still printed, the web site has become the most important reading tool for our public, updated daily and including such innovative features that our readers frequently read our main stories in their cell phones.

Our web site is a combination of news posts, video stories and interactive features that allow our advertiser to put 30 second interactive video ads and play different versions for different target groups with different settings. Most of our events are being transmitted, live, through our website, www.laprensademn.com.

It is the 22 anniversary of La Prensa and the dream that began as a small ethnic publication is now one of the most important newspapers in town, competing against the Star Tribune and the City Pages.

Our staff has grown exponentially and now we have a great combination that allows us to have the best of the two worlds we serve, the best Latino journalists and the best Anglo journalists. A big chunk of our staff work now from their native countries, thanks to technology and our virtual offices that allow us to have offices all over Latin America. Rumors are rolling and the media is beginning to talk about supposed conversations between La Prensa and the most important Anglo newspaper in Minnesota. The rumors say that we placed a bid to buy it and that the offer could be just what they were looking for.

That’s the future I see for La Prensa and the future we are building right now.