The SPJ NorCal board honors San Francisco State University Journalism trailblazers, Cristina Azocar and Lourdes Cárdenas for creating the first Bilingual Spanish Journalism degree at a public university.

Author: Zac Zavala
March 2, 2022
Cristina Azocar and Lourdes Cardenas
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By Zac Zavala

The Society of Professional Journalists Northern California Board awarded Professor Cristina Azocar and Assistant Professor Lourdes Cárdenas with the 2021 Distinguished Service to Journalism Award for creating of the Bilingual Spanish Journalism (BSJ) degree at San Francisco State University.

The BSJ degree will set students up for success in accurately reporting on Spanish-speaking communities and will offer the necessary resources and skills to cover, write and produce news stories in Spanish and English for all news media platforms. The new degree will debut at San Francisco State University in fall 2022.

“Latino communities in the US have been historically underrepresented and misrepresented in American media, and that relates to the reduced number of Latinx in newsrooms.  By preparing new generations of bilingual journalists ­– able to report and write in English and Spanish – we hope to contribute to the goal of increasing diversity in the newsrooms and therefore, to achieve a more accurate representation of Latinos in news media,” Cárdenas said.

Cárdenas has been a binational journalist for more than 25 years. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her research focuses on the harsh forces across the US-Mexico border which include immigration events and legalizing drugs.

Azocar is a member of the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. Her research primarily focuses race and journalistic practices, particularly in news coverage of Indigenous people and spans more than 30 years.