My response to The Hartford Courant’s “Spanish-language strategy” with Google Translate

NOTE: This post originally appeared on Web Journalist Blog.

“Como una cortesía para The Courant, por demostrando ignorancia y falta de respeto a su propia comunidad, déjeme decir: lo cagaron.”

If you were to translate this using Google Translate, guess what… it would be wrong. Anyone who is bilingual wouldn’t be surprised. But they would be surprised in hearing that a news organization would solely depend on using this primitive service as their “Spanish-language strategy.”

Sadly, this isn’t a joke: Hartford Courant’s Spanish site is Google Translate by Poynter.

But, instead of just being disgusted or insulted by The Courant’s “strategy,” let me offer some tips for an actual strategy:

  1. Hire a diverse staff, and in this case, a Spanish speaker. Listen to them. Anyone in their right mind would have told you this was a bad idea.
  2. I know resources are tight, as an affordable alternative to hiring more staff, partner up with the local Spanish-language news organizations. Believe me, they are there. And they’d love to help you inform the community. (Hey Courant, have you tried working with Connecticut’s Latino News Source:
  3. No Spanish-language news organization in your town? Look again. Think radio, newsletters or neighboring towns. Any of these will be better than an automated site.
  4. Still confused? Reach out to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists to find local members in your area, including Spanish-language news organizations.
  5. But, let’s say there are no Spanish-language news outlets. Partner up with the largest, Spanish-language local business. They know their community and are fully aware of the information network that is functioning now.

Lastly, apologize to the fastest growing demographic in your community for treating them with such little respect. It’s not a smart business move to belittle them, especially if you want to tap into their growing influence.

I preach experimentation, risk taking and embracing failure. You experimented and took a risk… and you failed. Oh, did you fail.

Learn from your big mistake and start genuinely engaging with your own diverse community.

Do you have any tips for The Courant or any other news organization trying to serve its Latino community? Please share them in the comments.

Oh, and if you are wondering, here’s how I’d translate my statement:

“As a courtesy to The Courant, for displaying its ignorance and lack of respect to its own community, let me say: you f&*#d up.”

Robert Hernandez is a Web Journalism professor at USC Annenberg and co-creator of #wjchat, a weekly chat for Web Journalists held on Twitter. You can contact him by e-mail ([email protected]) or through Twitter (@webjournalist). Yes, he’s a tech/journo geek.

About Robert Hernandez

Robert Hernandez, aka WebJournalist, is an assistant professor at USC Annenberg. Hernandez has been working in Web journalism for more than a decade. He has worked for,,, La Prensa Gr