Salvador EspinozaSunset Park, 2016.
Over the years, I have been asked more than once about the name of this publication. A few supporters have even suggested we change it because “City Limits” seems to suggest limitations, restrictions, barriers. And who likes those?
Luckily, limitations are not what the name my predecessors adopted in 1976 is all about. Instead, it’s about our belief that everything within the geographic confines of New York City matters: every neighborhood, every person, every building, every issue. The idea is that, in our reporting, we go all the way to the city’s limits regardless of what obstacles—distance, culture, language—might stand in the way.
Today, City Limits takes a real step toward transcending one of those barriers to covering New York City, because we are publishing our first ever Spanish-reported story—that is to say, a work written in Spanish first, rather than composed in English and translated. (We will soon publish an English translation of Marlene Peralta’s story about the unique challenges facing immigrants who are aging in New York.)
This marks the launch of our new City Limits en Español project, for which we will soon announce the hiring of a full-time reporter/editor.
City Limits has over the past three years been translating modest amounts of copy into Spanish, especially for the free print newsletters we have distributed in rezoning neighborhoods (Inwood, Jerome Avenue, East New York, Two Bridges, East Harlem and Downtown Far Rockaway) and to senior centers. (Some of these were also printed in Chinese.)
This new effort represents something different—a step toward a completely bilingual City Limits, where the two languages commingle just as they do on many city blocks. This will be reporting from a Latino perspective in the Spanish language, with a second life en Ingles.
New Yorkers speak in many tongues. So why single out Spanish? Simply because its presence in the city is so large. Nearly 2 million New Yorkers older than five speak Spanish at home, and more than 880,000 of those neighbors do not speak English well, according to the American Community Survey. That effectively cuts them off from City Limits’ English-language coverage of housing, aging, transit, elections and other topics, even though much of our reporting is about the neighborhoods where Spanish is especially important.
So, our Spanish-language reporter/editor will produce in-depth reporting (as well as spot news and explanatory journalism), curate a toolbox of resource to help Spanish-speakers navigate and engage with New York City government and democracy, and highlight excellent reporting by some of the outstanding Spanish-language news outlets that already exist. We know there is not one, monolithic “Spanish” or “Latino” story in New York, but rather thousands of stories reflecting different nationalities, ideologies, races, classes and communities. We won’t be able to tell them all. But we will try to tell as many as we can.
City Limits en Español is part of our larger, ongoing effort to amplify all the city’s voices. We recently announced that we’ll be relaunching Voices of New York, a platform for ethnic and community news from across New York. Through our Age Justice series earlier this year, we captured the views and voices of older New Yorkers in three boroughs. Our CityViews op-ed section features hundreds of viewpoints a year.
Those efforts are part of City Limits continuing evolution from its roots as a policy magazine 43 decades ago to an award-winning digital platform that operates a paid youth training program and co-hosts a weekly public-affairs radio program as well as publishing in-depth reporting on housing, transit, climate change, aging and more.
This is a bold step into uncharted territory for a six-person nonprofit, and we’ll ask for your patience as we get it up to speed—particularly as we redesign our website to position both Enlgish- and Spanish-language reporting more effectively. More important, we’ll ask for your readership, and for you to share our work with your friends and contacts.
If you have a comment, complaint or question about City Limits en Español, or an idea for a story, please email me.
Jarrett Murphy, executive editor