When Tribune Publishing announced Tuesday that it would be shutting down both the print and online publication of Hoy, it couldn’t have come as much of a surprise. As the Tribune itself reported, the company had been slowly sounding the death knell for years, first reducing the once-mighty daily to three days a week and then turning it into a Friday-only weekly in 2017.
The disappearance of yet another newspaper is a familiar story in a media landscape wracked by closures. But the impact on Chicago’s Hispanic community of the sudden evaporation of the area’s biggest Spanish-language periodical hits that community particularly hard, according to local Latino pols.
“The closing of Hoy is a big loss for Latinos in Chicago,” Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (D- IL04) told Chicago Mundo Hoy. “Many of my constituents prefer to get their news in Spanish. In fact, almost one quarter of the overall population of Chicago are native Spanish speakers. Publications in people’s native languages have an important role in our communities, not just as a source of information, but also as a bridge that keep people connected to their country of origin.”
It’s a stark comedown for Hoy, which had long claimed to be the largest Spanish-language newspaper in Chicago.
Where there had once been more than 20 full-time journalists, now it’s about a half dozen, according to Tilden Katz, spokesperson for Chicago-based Tribune Publishing. This media company also owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, The Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel as well as other major daily newspapers. As of December 13, that number will be zero, with several of the journalists hoping to catch on at other Tribune publications.
The union isn’t thrilled. Chicago Tribune Guild told Crain’s it was “deeply disappointed that Tribune Publishing is shutting down Hoy, which has gone beyond stereotypes and provided meaningful news to the vast body of Spanish-speakers in our region. This is a disservice to our journalists, our readers and our company.”
Alderman George Cardenas (D-12th Ward) told Chicago Mundo Hoy, “Hoy closing is really the loss of a voice for our community, and it’s very painful this decision was made. As we continue to see a rise of anti-immigrant sentiment, Spanish-language newspapers like Hoy are important resources for pushing back against harmful narratives that pervade some mainstream media. Hoy is a local paper with local reporters, and self-representation has never been more important for our community.”
Cardenas continued, “It is critical that Tribune Publishing officials value, and empower Latino journalists. I am hopeful they will honor their commitment to provide all affected employees the opportunity to take open positions inside the company.”
Garcia added a succinct final thought appropriate for a valued news outlet’s funeral. “This is a sad day for our community.”