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Leading the Latino Communications Initiative

February 4, 2014

Two men in conversation

Dean William Briggs discusses plans for the Latino Communications Initiative with Alex Nogales, president and CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition.

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When the College of Communications recruited her last year to direct the Latino Communications Initiative, Inez Gonzalez knew that for her it was about something larger than professional advancement. "I realized that this is a calling for me," explains Gonzalez.

Prior to joining the University, Gonzalez was executive vice president for the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), a nonpartisan, nonprofit, media advocacy and civil rights organization established in 1986. At NHMC, she developed an expertise in media policy and established national alliances and networks within the media and entertainment industries.

"My job is bringing together the talent that we have at Cal State Fullerton with the industry that is looking for them. Cal State Fullerton is already a leader in graduating the most Latinos in communications. And it's not just the numbers, but it's the quality of the education."

Launched in fall 2013, the initiative aims to develop and maintain an industry-ready, qualified workforce by offering courses and certificate programs in Latino-oriented communication studies.

"Media and entertainment industry leaders are trying to connect with a Latino market that represents $1.3 trillion in purchasing power," says Gonzalez. "They are looking for communications professionals who are bilingual or who understand the Latino market."

Planning is underway for two certificate programs that will emphasize cultural competency in Latino communications issues. A Spanish-language certificate program will offer four communications courses for students who want to improve their fluency. A second certificate program, offered in English, will be launched at a later date.

Thanks to a partnership between the College of Communications and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures offers a communications course in Spanish, and other possible collaborations are being explored.

Both certificate programs will include internships with Univision, Telemundo and others area media providers.

Input from Latino leaders in the media, entertainment and marketing industry will be key to developing the initiative's certificate programs and overall direction. Already, Gonzalez has developed a partnership with Hispanicize, one of the largest Latino communications conferences in the nation.

"Hispanicize has selected Cal State Fullerton as their West Coast campus partner," says Gonzalez, noting that five CSUF students will be chosen to intern with Hispanicize and will be involved with organizing and planning, as well as attending, the fifth annual Hispanicize 2014 conference in April. "This is an incredible opportunity for the students," Gonzalez says, "not only for the experience they gain, but for their exposure to industry professionals who will attend the event." 

Also underway is the initiative's first research project, another partnership that also includes Hispanicize Wire, as well as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Florida International University. The research involves a national survey to explore Hispanic journalists' beliefs about their profession and their use of social media and technology. 

The survey efforts are being led by Dean Kazoleas, director of Cal State Fullerton's Maxwell Center for International Communications and Media, and the results will be released as part of the Hispanic Journalist Showcase at the April 1-4 Hispanicize conference in Miami.

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