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PLD High School students help spread the word with daily bilingual newscasts

PLD Media Arts teacher Wendy Turner and her journalism students produce daily bilingual news broadcasts
Photo provided
PLD Media Arts teacher Wendy Turner and her journalism students produce daily bilingual news broadcasts. L to R: Emily Fabian Martinez, Paulina DeLarosa, Alan Lytle, Kimberly Torales, Addilyn Munoz, Rosalyn Garcia, Wendy Turner, Kimberly Alvarez.

Last week we brought you a story about a local high school teacher who won a national award for diversity. Today, WUKY's Alan Lytle takes you inside the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School's newsroom and their efforts to produce daily bilingual newscasts. You'll get to know some of the talented reporters working to make a difference in representation and cultural understanding.

In her twenty years as the advisor of Paul Laurence Dunbar High’s student newspaper, the Lamplighter, Media Arts teacher Wendy Turner says a lot has changed, particularly the make-up of the student body.

“Dunbar is now a Title 1 school so that means more than 50% of our students are on free or reduced lunch. We also discovered that nearly 40% of our students are Spanish-speaking; either native or heritage speakers,” Turner said.

So if your students are learning to produce news and information content for everyone, rather than a problem, that’s an opportunity.

“Everyday we publish the news with bilingual anchors, and we make sure that we have segments that are completely in Spanish for our English language learner students, so we will produce things that help them feel like they belong in our culture,” Turner added.

Paulina DeLarosa and Emily Fabian Martinez are two students who appear frequently on WPLD en espanol.

“In the beginning of the year I think it just started as a club and it was like oh, we’re meeting every Monday after school and we’re going to start doing segments,” DeLarosa said.

“And I’m just proud of what it’s become because we just started with announcements on a black screen,” Martinez said.

“Emily and I have done a lot of segments like ‘Day of the Dead’ or like there was a Latino Festival,” DeLarosa recalled.

“And I’m proud that we get to do it every day. Not only do we help our Spanish speaking community but we also help introduce our culture to my peers,” Martinez said.

DeLarosa said representation is also important: “my teachers have come up to me, because they see me read the news and they’re like ‘oh I think it’s really cool what you’re doing or like my kids love it. So that’s really cool to see.”

Hispanic issues are also covered in the Lamplighter’s long-running podcast series called Torch. This year, Addilyn Munoz, Rosalynn Garcia and Kimberly Alvarez are exploring the cultural importance of an often misunderstood rite of passage known as the Quinceanera. The project has involved the hosts interviewing their parents to get their perspectives on the importance of the ceremony.

“I feel like it brought us closer,” Garcia said. “Knowing how much it meant to her for me to have mine, it made me want it even more,” she said.

Munoz said she liked that the podcast project gave the trio a chance to represent their culture and she liked helping “Hispanics have a voice in the industry,” she added.

All of this leads me to ask the students what do non-Hispanic people not understand or carry around a perception of you that is false?

“I feel like they don’t understand how hard we’ve worked for our culture…our traditions, and how our parents worked hard to get here and make a living and provide for us and give us opportunities that they didn’t have,” Garcia said.

Munoz said she’s thankful that non-Hispanics want to learn more about our culture but she’s concerned about cultural appropriation. She’s seen non-Hispanic families hold Quinceanera ceremonies without knowing the full story behind them; a development she calls “very sad and disrespectful for our Hispanic community.”

Martinez says her white classmates “don’t know about my culture and everything they do know about Hispanics are negative, “but it’s not their fault because it’s just because there’s so little representation and I’m hoping the PLD en espanol platform will change that and show them that our culture is very beautiful and it’s not just the negative things they hear,” she said.

Wendy Turner and her students recently got back from a trip to San Francisco where she received the national 2023 Diversity Award from the Journalism Education Association (JEA).

Turner was lauded for fostering a sense of belonging at Dunbar. She hopes to use the award to start a high school chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

“Only around 12% of all journalists in the United States are Hispanic, so that tells me there’s not enough representation,” Turner said. She’s betting that situation will change in the months and years to come.

Alan Lytle has more than 25 years of experience as a Kentucky broadcaster. Over that span he has earned multiple awards for anchoring, writing and producing news & features for WUKY. He took home the Kentucky Broadcasters Association's Best Radio Anchor award in 2021.