July 7, 2000
Newnan, Ga. Greeting readers with the headline, "Hola Coweta," the Times-Herald in Coweta County has become the latest newspaper attempting to attract the state's growing Hispanic population by printing news in English and Spanish.
Saturday's edition is one in a weekly series the newspaper plans to publish with a page in Spanish- with English translations on subsequent pagesbefore looking into the possibility of starting a Spanish-language weekly, publisher Sam O. Jones said.
"I think we can do it and provide a service to the population and yet I think we have an opportunity to make some money doing it," Jones said.
The Georgia Press Association said it knows of only one other English-language paper in the state that prints news in Spanish - The Daily Citizen of Dalton.
Similar efforts have been attempted at small newspapers in the cities of Cartersville and Moultrie, but those projects fizzled out.
"Sometimes innovation takes place at the edges. It doesn't always take place at the center," said Jeffrey M. Humph-reys, director of economic forecasting at the University of Georgia and author of a 1999 study of Hispanic buying power. "The Hispanic market has reached what I call critical mass."
Since 1990, Georgia's Hispanic population has at least doubled, hitting 207,000 in 1997, according to the Census Bureau. Some researchers say the number closer to 750,000, including illegal immigrants.
Humphrey's study found Hispanic buying power in Georgia has increased 170 percent since 1990, from $1.4 billion to $3.7 billion. That's more than any other racial or ethnic group in the state. The increase was the fifth-largest in the nation.
According to U.S. Census figures, Coweta's Hispanic population increased to 1,175 in 1998, but Jones is banking on the estimates of a local Hispanic pastor who says 7,000 Hispanics live there.
In Dalton, home to an estimated 35,000 Hispanics, The Daily Citizen has published a "Common Culture" page in Spanish and English once a week since December 1997, said executive editor Jimmy Espy. It usually includes a profile, a news feature and definitions in English and Spanish of terms such as "teacher tenure" and "last will and testament."
The page has not been universally appreciated.
"Certainly there's some resentment," Espy said. "The big complaint you hear in this community is about illegal immigrants."
In 1995, the Dalton paper launched El Informador (The Informant) as a Spanish-language publication that carried only ads. Executives converted it to a "full-fledged" paper with news and photographs in 1998. It is one of three Spanish-language weeklies in Dalton.
Nationwide, English-language newspapers that also print foreign-language editions include The Miami Herald, which publishes the Spanish-language daily El Nuevo Herald, and the San Jose Mercury News, which publishes a Spanish-language weekly, Nuevo Mundo, and a Vietnamese-language weekly, the Viet Mercury.