Thoughts from the Managing Editor | Oct. 18, 2019

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As some of you who may have read my think pieces before know, I was humbled to be part of the digital-news team at NBC4 and Telemundo 52 this spring before I graduated from Cal State Long Beach.

While I was there I picked up on techniques news stations use today to gather more viewership. Since then, I’ve tried to apply some of those techniques here at the Signal Tribune to increase our readership and reach.

Out of the many things I learned during my four months in Universal City, one of them stuck with me the most–– the Latino market is huge. Business and marketing gurus know that this isn’t that much of a surprise in this region of the country. Our neighbor is a Spanish-speaking country after all, and countless reports have indicated that the Latino market is strong in SoCal.

Putting sales aside, the Latino community also craves news and information. Although many Latinos born here are English speakers, there is still a population that does not–– or if they do, not well. That population is much older, and is probably more likely to vote. So, why not cater to that demographic with local news coverage of what city hall is up to so they can formulate their own opinions come election season.

And that’s what we did. We actually have a Signal Tribune “En Español,” if you will. But it doesn’t stop there. There is a third language we have worked hard toward including as part of our news coverage. Long Beach is known to have a large Cambodian community outside of Cambodia. So, we’ve recently partnered with Khmer members along the Anaheim Corridor in Cambodia Town to help us translate our English stories into Khmer Unicode–– the computer text for Khmer. Oh boy, has this been a challenge.

Time to take a Spanish 101 refresher. English and Spanish, for the most part, still use the same Latin alphabet. There are some words that are literally spelled the same and mean the same thing: car garage = garage de autos. Even German, which I happen to be conversational in, uses the same letters–– except for some such as “ß,” which makes an “s” sound: for example fußball is football (or soccer for us yanks). You’re impressed, I know (wink).

Anyways, the challenge with Khmer was the alphabet. It’s completely different. But our lovely Khmer liaison, Sanghak Kan, has worked with us to educate us on the language. He was the lead man for the Long Beach Mark Twain library to painstakingly catalog the largest collection of Khmer books found at a city library. Once we had someone who could translate for us, the next challenge was trying to have our website “engine” recognize the Khmer font. The problem with that was that it would revert Khmer words into question marks when we would go to publish a Khmer story. So, a story in Khmer would look like this online:

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After some trouble shooting with our website provider, we got it to work. Pretty soon, we will be implementing local news in Khmer for members of that community.

It’s new ground for us, to try and deliver local news in different languages, but we’ll give it our best shot in the pursuit of the truth and making sure the community has access to that truth.