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María Sánchez Díez

College: CUNY School of Journalism
Awards: Foreign Press Association Scholarship Fund, 2015

Setting the News on Fire

The very name "The Fuego" implies what the online news service aims to do: mix English and Spanish to fire up young Hispanic-Americans.

"English and Spanish cohabit in conversation among Latinos, and news products don't necessarily have to be in one language or the other," says María Sánchez Díez, a Spaniard who won a 2015 Foreign Press Association grant to further the project. She has been developing The Fuego at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, from which she expects to graduate with an M.A. in Entrepreneurial Journalism in December 2015.

"Latinos are one in five young Americans, but only 1 percent of news is about them," she says. "I believe this underserved community deserves the same access to the news that everyone else has been having for years."
Her service, now in the beta stage at www.thefuego.net, aggregates news from around the Web in both languages and feature original reporting. "Latinos are very diverse and, as we get more people involved, we'll provide news on their home countries in a way they can relate to."

The Fuego will target Latinos who were born in the United States. "They have a dual identity. Many are bilingual. Major newspapers and TV networks like Univision and Telemundo serve their parents in Spanish, but there's a gap for young Latinos who are in-between identity."

Sánchez Díez attends the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism as a Fulbright Foreign Student Fellow. This U.S.-funded program enables foreign graduate students, young professionals and artists to study and conduct research in the United States. She notes that competition for Foreign Fulbrights has been especially fierce in economically distressed Spain, where, Eurostat reports, 54 percent of young people were unemployed as of April 1, 2014.

She came with a deep background in print and online journalism.

Sánchez Díez launched and was digital editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveler Spain magazine (Traveler.es). In the only pan-European competition for Internet content, the site won two silver Lovie Awards (Best European Travel Site and Best Editorial Work) and a special mention in the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences' Webby Awards competition (Best Design).

She reported for Soitu.es, a now-defunct digital media hub that won the Online News Association excellence award for a non-English site in 2008 and 2009.

She freelanced for El País, Spain's largest-circulation daily newspaper, co-writing the music and travel blog “Motel Americana.” She managed the online short film festival Notodofilmfest and coordinated social media strategy for the PhotoEspaña photography festival. In her predigital days, she reported for Mexico's El Mundo de Tehuacán.

Sánchez Díez says she chose to attend the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism because it offers the first master's in entrepreneurial journalism. "In 10 years, the world of journalism as we used to know it will be gone. CUNY is focused on new skills and, it works like a startup. The professors are amazing and very helpful, especially to foreign students who come not knowing about the city, the culture and the country."