A veteran bi-national journalist will bring her passion for journalism, teaching and the Spanish language to create the perfect fit as San Francisco State University’s newest journalism department faculty member.
Ana Lourdes Cárdenas will lead the launch of San Francisco State University’s new Spanish-language journalism program in the fall of 2018. She leaves her current role as an assistant professor in journalism at New Mexico State University to help develop a curriculum thats designed to meet the interests of a growing Latino/a population in the country.
The Latino population is expected to make up 25 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Many of them prefer Spanish-language news, and they have informational needs that the mainstream media doesn’t usually address, Lourdes said.
“I’m convinced that the Spanish-language journalism in the U.S. must have the same good quality that distinguishes American journalism,” she said.
The program will result from collaborations with her new journalism department colleagues, other SFSU departments focused on the Latino population, and Spanish-speaking media in the Bay Area through internships and shared reporting projects.
Lourdes has already made strides in standardizing Spanish-language media with the mainstream. She recently joined two professors from the University of Arizona and California State University Northridge to publish an academic paper comparing Spanish-language media with English mainstream media in using Twitter during breaking news situation.
Raised in Mexico City, Lourdes fell into journalism accidently, but once she got a taste for it, she quickly realized that she had found her niche. It was 1986, and with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in hand, she offered to write some historical vignettes for a local newspaper in Oaxaca. The managing editor, however, had another idea.
“They offered me a job as a reporter,” Lourdes said. “I had no idea how to report and write news stories, but the editors helped me a lot, and I loved the job from the very first day. I knew that I had found my passion in giving voice to people who usually are not heard.”
Her work brought her to the United States in 1993 when she became a Los Angeles correspondent for the Mexican news agency, Notimex. And while covering the region’s Latino population, she also attended the University of Southern California, earning a master’s degree in journalism in 1996. Her devotion to learning also led her to become a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2000, and 10 years later, she earned an MFA in creative writing at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Meanwhile, Lourdes’ career continued on an upward trajectory. Between 2001 and 2013, she spent two years as a producer for CNN’s Mexico City bureau, four years as city editor of Al Día, a Spanish publication of The Dallas Morning News, and she founded and edited SomosFrontera, an El Paso Times website focused on the Latino community in the El Paso region.
Among her proudest accomplishments is her 2016 book on the legalization of marijuana, entitled “Marihuana: El Viaje A La Legalizacion.” The book is the result of in-depth reporting in Colorado focusing on a cross-border blight, which Lourdes hopes her work will help alleviate.
“I’m from a country in which the war on drugs has killed thousands of people and has created unbearable pain for many families,” she said. “I see my research on this topic as a contribution in the search for possible solutions to the problem.”
She continues to research and write about issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border, including immigration, trade, drug trafficking and violence as well as legalization or decriminalization of drugs. All the while, she also indulges her other passion: teaching.
Throughout her five years as assistant professor of reporting, writing and storytelling through multimedia, she has reveled in the energy and the enthusiasm of her students, as well as their accomplishments.
And she said she’s eager to continue guiding burgeoning journalists in the Bay Area while also experiencing “the beauty and the energy of San Francisco.”