Hispanic media program at UCF pushes for more diverse journalists

Students interested in Spanish-language media can opt for course, certificate program

Knightly Latino students at UCF take a picture with Javier Ortiz, VP of Human Resources, Telemundo Station Group
Knightly Latino students at UCF take a picture with Javier Ortiz, VP of Human Resources, Telemundo Station Group (Knightly Latino)

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – What started as an idea, has turned into lasting opportunities for journalism students at the University of Central Florida. UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media’s Hispanic Media Initiative Knightly Latino, a Spanish-television news program, offers a way for students to report on the Hispanic and Latinx community on campus, and broaden their job opportunities by learning more about Spanish-language media.

Students can either take a course or a certificate program which would be a supplement to their diploma.

“The Hispanic/Latinx community is an important part of the UCF and Central Florida community at large, as well as throughout the nation, so this course and the Certificate in Hispanic Media prepare budding journalists to understand this demographic, identify the stories that impact them, and promote diversity in newsrooms so that those newsrooms better reflect the communities they serve. The certificate is also available to students in other majors who want to work in other areas of media and communication,” said Dr. Erica Rodriguez Kight.

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Javier Ortiz from Telemundo speaks with students in Knightly Latino
Javier Ortiz from Telemundo speaks with students in Knightly Latino (Knightly Latino)

Before Kight started teaching at UCF and being a part of the Knightly Latino program, Katie Coronado first started it off with student volunteers who wanted more experience in Spanish-language television news.

“At that time, (2012-2013) this was the only way for students who wanted to use their Spanish language skills to write and present stories,” said Coronado.

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As the program grew, so did the opportunities. In 2018, students had the chance to go to Cuba through a joint program with the University of Cienfuegos. UCF students collaborated with Cuban students and produced a 30-minute special on Cuban art and culture. The special was a finalist in the Florida AP Broadcasters college contest last year.

Christina Díaz was on the trip and she says Knightly Latino was one of her most influential classes in college.

Christina Díaz reporting for Knightly Latino
Christina Díaz reporting for Knightly Latino (Christina Díaz)

“It challenged me to get outside my comfort zone while also offering an extremely inviting atmosphere. I loved it because it allowed me to learn and improve my Spanish and also gave me the opportunity to go abroad. There’s no other way to learn to tell a good story than to work hands-on with professionals in the field and this class was molded in a way that allowed the students to take charge of the newscasts and feature stories we produced," said Díaz. “Since I have graduated, I have been able to use the skills I’ve learned in this class to not only work with Spanish-speaking companies but to help me on set and when creating video content.”

Kight and Coronado say not only does this program prepare students when they graduate, but it also encourages them to work in diverse newsroom settings and cover different communities.

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“Now more than ever, we need to amplify the voices of immigrants and people of color throughout the United States,” said Kight.

As professors of the course, Kight and Coronado say they research ways to better communicate with the Hispanic and Latinx communities, and document their contributions in the media. They recently published a textbook called “Latinx Voices: Hispanics in Media in the U.S.”

As for what’s next for Knightly Latino, they have plans to help out the Hispanic and Latinx community during the pandemic.

“We recently earned a grant to collaborate with Colectivo Árbol a non-profit organization that helps migrant farmworkers. We will be helping them by producing a health and safety communication campaign for the COVID-19 pandemic and upcoming hurricane seasons,” said Kight.

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They also planned to do a summer study program abroad in Puerto Rico but had to postpone the trip. They will bring it back once the pandemic is over.

For more stories on how the Hispanic community is impacting Central Florida, head to clickorlando.com/hispanicheritage.

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