Last summer, the San Antonio Report published “Local Government 101,” an in-depth guide to civic engagement and participation.
As co-founder Robert Rivard wrote at the time, the intent of the project was to help our readers better understand the importance of city and county government, school boards, public utilities, and the many other tax-supported organizations in their lives.
The original project, which took months to produce and drew upon the time and talents of many San Antonio Report staffers as well as local collaborators, was made possible by grant support from the Sumners Foundation in Fort Worth. Local Gov 101 was originally produced in digital form and as a printed booklet that was distributed at locations throughout the community.
Today, we launched “Gobierno Local 101, el camino más fácil para entender el gobierno local,” a translation into Spanish of the original months-long project.
One of our guiding principles of the nonprofit San Antonio Report newsroom is our aspiration to cover this community as comprehensively and responsibly as we can. At its best, our work helps our readers be better citizens, neighbors and participants in the city structures around them.
In English, this civics guide reached thousands of our neighbors, giving them a place to go to get basic questions answered on topics like participating in public meetings, why our city government is set up the way that it is and even understanding their electric bills.
Now, by translating it to Spanish, we are expanding Local Gov 101’s reach.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, 37.9 percent of people surveyed in San Antonio speak Spanish at home. The number of people who speak English “less than very well,” according to that same survey, is a much smaller 12.7 percent.
We are a bilingual city, with many members of our community speaking English and Spanish in different settings depending on the needs of the situation and group they are in, as well as reading and listening to news in both languages regularly.
In terms of how that affects the San Antonio Report’s digital newsgathering and dissemination strategy, we have begun the work of translating some of our essential content into Spanish. The goal is to inform as many of our community members of the news they need to know, in the most comfortable possible format, whenever we can.
We are also embarking on a listening tour through the city — trying to connect with as many of our community members as we can to better understand their information needs as well as which platforms would deliver that news best.
To do that, we are going to need your help. If you’re interested in helping us understand our city better, sign up to attend a listening tour focus group conversation here. We’d love to talk more about what you’d like to see in our local news coverage and what form that coverage could take.
And as always, please keep commenting! We care about this community and the news that affects us all, and we are working our hardest to get it right.
Gobierno Local 101 would not have been possible without the work of our translator, Ana María Gonzalez; graphic designer Ana Ruiz; web designer Charlynn Schmiedt and community engagement editor Blanca Méndez, so let me take this opportunity to give them a huge “thank you!”