Latina Girls Magazine Launches Teen Version

Posted on April 16, 2004

Students at the University of Texas at Austin founded Latinitas, a bilingual online magazine for Latina pre-teens. Latinitas, for girls ages 9-14, celebrated its one year anniversary of publication on March 15, by launching a sister version of the magazine, Teen Latinitas, for teens and young women ages 15-20.

The Hispanic population in the United States is currently the largest minority, a third of which are under age 18. In fact, one in five teens in the United States (20 percent) is of Hispanic descent and though those numbers only grow larger, such statistics are not reflected in media; less than a handful of publications exist for Latino youth at all.

"It's rare I see myself represented in the media," said Latinitas editor and webmaster Alicia Rascon, born in Mexico and raised in El Paso, Texas. "When we are, the image is often watered-down to one Latina amalgam or often, stereotyped to a frustrating degree. This magazine is an effort to counter that, at an early point in these girls' lives."

The initial aim of Latinitas was to fill a class requirement in a University of Texas Latino media studies class. But, Ms. Rascon and classmate Laura Donnelly, along with the help of many contributors, translators, consultants and photographers continued to develop Latinitas into a publication staffed by volunteers. Featuring six sections including Fun Stuff, HERstory, Latina Beat, Real Life, Your View and 411, Latinitas magazine covers sports to quincieneras; getting into college to dealing with confrontation at school. Sections like "Your View" create an online forum where Hispanic girls can submit artwork, poetry and fiction. "HERstory" offers profiles on adult Latinas achieving in business, the arts, politics, sports and entertainment. Teen Latinitas will host the same subject headings, but will address more mature issues faced by Latina girls, and most importantly will also feature a toggle button to switch back and forth to Spanish text.

Latina pre-teens and teens also play in the development of content, a collaborative effort of adults and youth. Junior reporters act as an editorial advisory group helping Latinitas staff make editorial decisions, affecting the direction of the magazine. Latinitas also offers aspiring Latina journalists the opportunity to express themselves by publishing their work. Latinitas college editorial interns mentor and tutor our junior reporters guiding them in development of story ideas, conducting interviews, researching stories, writing articles, and editing content. Latinitas is currently accepting applications for Latina high-school students who seek hands-on journalism experience with a growing magazine.

Latinitas co-editor Laura Donnelly said, "We feel like the only way to strengthen the Latina voice in media is to provide a forum and instruction to cultivate Latina journalists. It was great to hear my peers in journalism school pledge they would cover minority opinion, use minority sources and be inclusive in news coverage. But, the reality of a newsroom is you do what your editor requests and if that editor isn't empathic for Hispanic issues, or more importantly, part of that community, the coverage may never happen."