In Port Chester, America Latina newspaper suspends publication
America Latina, a Spanish-language monthly newspaper in Port Chester, has ceased publication for now, but the headline from publisher Richard Abel might read, “Not Dead Yet.”
“We’re hoping to bring it back,” he told me yesterday, after I went looking for the new edition and found only an old one promoting Barack Obama for president. Declines in advertising caused Abel to halt publication of the 17-year-old paper, at least for now. Unlike his weekly Westmore News, which relies on paid subscriptions by mail or online, America Latina was distributed free in Port Chester, about 3,000 copies at a shot. The one full-timer on staff was Paula Farrier, who runs the Ficciones book store and graphic design company on Broad Street, near Westmore.
The paper carried substantial articles about news from village hall and the schools. (And it was great Spanish practice for people like me.) Abel said the project started when his Westmore circulation manager noted that more and more telemarketing calls were being answered in Spanish. The idea was not to create an “immigrant” paper, but to bring news about Port Chester to the newcomers in the community.
Abel is a natural storyteller, and he reminisced about the early signs of the immigrant influx to Port Chester from Central and South America. He found himself in a restaurant where no one on staff spoke English. Inquiring about a dish on the menu, the best translation he could get was “little fishes with garlic.” It turned out to be shrimp.
Multi-ethnic restaurants — Peruvian, Colombian, Salvadoran, and so on — have since become “our industry” in Port Chester, Abel said. Immigrants have proven to be risk-taking entrepreneurs, filling in once-boarded-up storefronts in the business district. His monthly restaurant guide counts 112 eateries in the small area that is Port Chester and Rye Brook.
Anyway, the demographics in town are still changing. Abel says more Hispanic surnames are appearing on his list of subscribers to the English-language Westmore News, reflecting an emerging second generation. And while the rest of us are pretty worried about the fate of newspapers these days, Abel sees a silver lining. Local-news readership seems to increase during a downturn, he said.
“People care more about their tax dollars,” he said. “And people don’t travel, so they become more interested in their community.”