The University’s student newspaper may be more than 100 years old, but that doesn’t stop editors from innovating and trying new things. In an effort to meet the need of the Chattanooga area’s growing Spanish-speaking population and provide learning opportunities for students, The University Echo editors now publish an online edition of the newspaper in Spanish.
Idris Garcia, editor-in-chief of The Echo, decided to pursue the idea after a conversation with Dr. Betsy Alderman, Head of the UTC Department of Communication.
“We currently have a Spanish editor, Lily Sanchez, who translates the stories featured on the front page of The Echo and later publishes them on the website at www.theutcecho.com. We hope to grow the section in the future. We want to get more writers involved and post more original content,” Garcia said.
Garcia speaks English and Spanish. He sees the Spanish version of the newspaper as a valuable learning tool.
“Media is a great way to learn a new language. Especially with the way we have it set up at The Echo. Students who are taking language classes can now look at both versions of the story and compare them. It gives those students another resource to learn the language,” he said.
Garcia began working on the newspaper as a staff writer during his sophomore year.
“It’s been a great experience. It’s rare for students to find a job on campus that’s also related their career ambitions, and The Echo allows students to get a real-world experience. We interview sources, write multiple articles a week, and work on a deadline. It allows me to apply what I learn in class in a practical way,” he said.
According to Dr. Alderman, helping students like Garcia gain experience while they are still in school is one of the main goals of the UTC Department of Communication.
“We pair a solid theory-based education with skills-based classes and professional experience that prepares our students for after graduation. In the communication field, it’s not enough to get a college degree. Students have to get practical experience too,” she said.
Communication is now the third most popular major in the College of Arts and Sciences. The number of majors has grown by 30 percent since 2011.
“Our focus on teaching, advising, and student services has always kept us a popular program. We now have nine full-time faculty who are highly dedicated and come from a vast array of professional fields. Good faculty attract good students,” Alderman said.