[Begin Tape 1, Side A]
Biagi: Yesterday we left you in 1985, and you'd just come back to the paper. We haven't talked at all about your personal situation or how family and everything was being organized into your life. So maybe we ought to start there. In 1985, were you single? You had been single. You hadn't before then. What year did you get married?
Lozano: I got married in 1986. I came down here from San Francisco, and the person who later became my husband, is from South America. So when I came here, he ended up coming down here also.
Biagi: You had met him in San Francisco?
Lozano: Yes, we had met in San Francisco.
Biagi: His name is?
Lozano: Marcelo Centanino. We've since divorced. We got married in 1986, and we had two children—a son who was born in 1987.
Biagi: Whose name is?
Lozano: Santiago. And then a daughter who was born in 1989, Gabriela.
Biagi: Do they have your husband's last name?
Lozano: Yes. Centanino.
Biagi: So 1987 and 1989. So at the same time you were—
Lozano: Pregnant. [Laughter.] The same time I was starting at this job, I was literally having children. For four years it seemed I had either just had had a child or was pregnant.
Biagi: Did you nurse?
Biagi: So talk a little bit about how you organized that into your life.
Lozano: Well, it wasn't all that difficult, because at the time, if you recall, there was an editor who was already here when I came in, and the editorial department was organized. There had been staff who had been here for quite a long time and were either associate editors or assistant managing editors. The structure was pretty much in place. So when I came in, I had actually been brought in to do some administrative reorganizing of the department, handle personnel
matters, and take over what later became our public service work—the special supplements that I was referring to yesterday.
So in terms of the actual organization of the daily newspaper structure, that pretty much was in place. The man who had been managing editor was named executive editor. I came in as managing editor. It worked out so that when I was out on maternity leave, it didn't disorganize the structure of things. Again you have to remember that I came in without prior daily newspaper experience, and I came in with the added burden of being the daughter of the owner and needing to prove myself in a different way than other people who were hired that have journalism experience and have been working their way up the ranks.
Biagi: Did you feel that strongly that you were being tested here?
Lozano: Yes. Well, there are two things. The newspaper is so traditional, there is such pride here. People who had worked with my grandfather, who had worked with my father, felt as if they'd invested their lives, and by investing their lives, had almost adopted our family as part of their family. It's almost the traditional way that Mexican society works and even business society. People who are going into Mexico right now, who are dealing with free trade, etc., realize that the relationship between the owner and the employees is very different. The owner becomes involved in the lives of the employees, and the sense of loyalty to your place of work is something that traditionally has been strong and prevalent and is certainly an important component of workplace environment. So that was definitely present here at La Opinión.
When I came back, it was almost as if the prodigal son had returned or the prodigal daughter. Really, people nodded and said, "It's about time. We're glad to see you here." There was the sense that it was important for La Opinión to be maintained within the family, for the family to maintain, as a unit, control of the newspaper.
Biagi: These are people who had watched you as a little girl, probably, be there.
Lozano: Right, who had either watched me or had some sense of history. Not people who had just come in in the last few years, but people who really had been here for a long time and watched the newspaper grow and develop and seen the different generations become involved.
There were also those who were concerned, who felt displaced. "What does this mean? Is she going to take my job? What's going to happen to me?" There's always that sense of fear, apprehension. And there was also the, "Prove it. So you're here. So you're the daughter. Now prove that you really can do what you were hired to do." I think all of the different reactions to my having returned to the newspaper emphasized what I've always known about myself, which is that I can do it on my own, I've lived on my own for the last fifteen years, I've supported myself, I have good skills, I'm confident in what I know how to do, and I don't mind having to prove it. So it gives you that push to really excel again, to take a job and say, "You want me to prove it? I'll prove it to you."
Biagi: Do you think that, looking back on what happened, you wanted to leave here and prove yourself outside of this environment?
Lozano: Oh, yes, there's no doubt. I wanted, unlike my brother and my sister, who had never done anything but La Opinión, to look at myself and say, "I am my own person. I can survive on my own. I have skills, I have education. I don't need to rely on something that was handed to me." I needed to prove it to myself. So when I came back, I had all of that. I didn't question my capacity.
I may have questioned my education, whether I had been trained in this field and was it right for me to come back in as managing editor. You walk in off the street and you're handed the position of managing editor. It wasn't managing editor in the traditional concept of a managing editor, but I was second in the department hierarchy. I didn't have, I think, as hard a time as I probably would have had if I hadn't been out on my own for all those years.
Biagi: So it did help you?
Lozano: Oh, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. But there's no doubt about it, I did go through a period of questioning whether or not it was right for me to be here, whether or not I was right for this job. And I'll tell you, one of the first things that I did, I was hired in November of '85, and in February or early spring of '86, the company sent me to the Poynter Institute for one of their management training seminars—newsroom management. It's one of those two-week intensive courses where you're there and they bring in people who talk to you about all of the different elements of putting out a newspaper, but mostly concentrating on executive newsroom development.
I met people there who continue to be among my closest friends, who became mentors at the time, and who, in one way or another, said, "There's something in you, whether it's ink in your blood, there's something in you that has an innate capacity to understand how this works." So it was helpful to have people from the outside who were working in some of the largest newspapers in the country, who recognized something in me that they knew was going to work in terms of running a newspaper and having that instinct.
Biagi: Who would some of those people be, specifically?
Lozano: Right now I would say that—and he continues to be one of my closest friends—is David Hamilton from Newsday. David has gone on to now do minority recruitment for Newsday and is involved in the Metpro program for Times-Mirror. There is another person from the Philadelphia Inquirer who I kept in touch with for a long time, though he's since then left. People from Detroit. So there was a couple of—three or four people who at that moment in my life were very important to me, because I did come in questioning whether or not it was appropriate for me to be doing this. So both the Poynter experience, which is superb, professional, and well done, as well as those personal relationships that literally became almost mentor relationships for me were very important.
Biagi: How did you use that relationship? Call them for advice?
Lozano: Yes, phone calls. A lot of phone calls, and especially because at the time that I started, this newspaper had undergone the first phase of what was to be really tremendous change in the newspaper. Circulation was starting to grow, personnel had grown quite a bit from being fifty or sixty people that ran the entire newspaper to a couple hundred, then three hundred. Circulation had gone from being about 20,000 to close to 100,000. And all of this had happened in a period of the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, that decade really.
It was a kind of growth that hit everybody by surprise, where all of a sudden you turn around one day and we were really poised to take off, where circulation was very close to 100,000, where ad revenues and circulation revenues were greater than they'd ever been. So people were a little disconcerted because there hadn't been growth management. It just sort of happened, and all of a sudden it was, "Oh, my God!" The systems and mechanisms weren't in place to help people really absorb that growth in a way that functioned smoothly.
So I came in at a time where I think there was real concern on the part of staff. The workload was greater, the support wasn't there, and a lot of different things were going on.
Biagi: Personnel issues became part of your responsibility? How do you think about the way you handled people differs, or does it, from the way other people handled those issues?
Lozano: I think there's a real difference. My style is one of teamwork and inclusion. It's not autocratic by any means. I certainly know how to make decisions, and when the time comes to say, "Yes," "No," and "Do it," I know how to say, "Yes," "No," and "Do it." But the process to getting to that is much more inclusive. I like to hear people out. I like to get a lot of ideas, throw ideas around in a small group and have people start working in teams, bringing in editors, reporters, photographers, copy editors, bring in a lot of people to work on something, as opposed to just saying to a reporter, "Go out and do this." The idea of developing story lines and working together as a group is something I think I know how to do relatively well, and that never had happened here.
Biagi: I was also interested, when you came here, would you say that there was parity in employees between men and women? Was the newsroom well integrated?
Lozano: No, no, not in terms of gender. It was predominantly male.
Biagi: How many people were you managing?
Lozano: I think the staff was—we have a relatively small editorial department, so I think the staff was probably around forty, maybe—forty or fifty people. All of the news editors were men. The editor of the editorial pages was a woman. We may have had at the time a couple of female entertainment reporters. We did have a couple of female entertainment reporters. I think I hired either our first female metro reporter, or maybe there had only been one before, but really it was not an integrated newsroom and it was very sexist.
Biagi: Was it?
Lozano: Oh, it was. All of the stereotypes about macho Mexican male society were being played out in this newsroom. It was awful.
Biagi: For instance?
Lozano: Oh, you know, a woman would walk by, and the whistles. The magazine pictures up in people's workstations. The women, in fact, threw a party for me when I came in. I think they were really happy to see a woman manager, because it was oppressive, terribly oppressive here. This is the eighties. You would think that just in terms of personnel and human resource management in a company, that we wouldn't have allowed that to go on, but it was going on. I think there was the real sense on the part of a lot of our female staff that if you were going to get ahead, you'd better dress sexy and wear high heels, and that this was going to be an important part of your progress in the company, at least in the newsroom. Maybe not companywide, because there were a lot of women working in the company, but in this department in particular, my sense of it was that women felt terribly oppressed and that nobody had taken it upon themselves to say, "This is wrong," or that, "We should think twice about how we interact together and relate."
Biagi: So there had never been, so far as you know, a challenge to that situation.
Lozano: No, not that I know of. I'm trying to think. I remember, in fact, when I first came in, getting anonymous letters, sealed envelopes—"Mónica Lozano"—and I would open them up and there were complaints, complaints from women, from employees, saying, "This, this, and that has happened." One of the first things that I did was issue memos saying that there will not be any more photographs and there will not be any more whistling and there will not be—I mean, really having to just say some of the most basic things about how people should treat each other in a work environment.
Certainly my brother, the publisher, was very supportive, and it wasn't an issue of whether or not the company's philosophy was opposed to it or condoned it. I just think people hadn't paid attention, and women hadn't come forward to say, "We don't like this," and they felt like they could with me. And, you know, the men didn't like it. "Who is she? Everything is fine. What's the problem here?" There was real resentment.
Biagi: The men didn't like you issuing memos.
Lozano: Right. There was real resentment, you know, feeling like, "We've been doing this for years." I'm sure it's happened in every single newsroom where this kind of transition has taken place. "We're happy as we are, smoking cigarettes and feet up on the table, whistling to women," you know, all of that stuff. People used to drink. But it's not as if it only happened here; people drank everywhere in newsrooms.
Biagi: Oh, yes.
Lozano: Unfortunately, that mentality still pervaded in the mid-eighties when I came in.
Biagi: So you were representing a big change.
Lozano: I was a big change, and I was "politically aggressive" also. The newsroom literally was a large floor, it was an open floor with partitioned desks, but literally just an open floor. The executive editor's office was against the wall and had an all-glass wall. In the afternoons for the "page one" meetings, he would call all the editors in, and I wasn't invited, even as managing editor. The impression I had was, "Well, she's here and we'll tolerate her, but she's not invited in." So all of the editors would get up and walk in, and you could look directly into the office because of the glass partition. I can remember thinking to myself, "You know, there's something wrong with this picture, where you have a room of all men deciding what's going to go on the front page of a newspaper that day." And the idea that you need diversity of opinion and of thought in that decision-making process I don't think had ever really occurred to them. They were happy as clams with the way things were and really reluctant to let new people into the circle, whether it be women—
Biagi: What were the age of the people around the table?
Lozano: Mid- to late forties.
Biagi: So there wasn't that kind of diversity either, of age.
Lozano: No, no, no.
Biagi: So how did you go about changing this? Or did you?
Lozano: Yes. Sure.
Biagi: How did you?
Lozano: First, proving myself. I mean, I literally went out of my way to prove that whatever task you were going to give me, I was going to do it, and I was going to do it better than if you had done it. So the task that I had, again, was to reorganize the staff and to do things like evaluate employees. I mean, simple things like giving people feedback, like saying, "The door is open. If you have something that you want to say or suggestion you want to make, come in and let's talk about it." I just to begin to develop a spirit of cooperation in the newsroom.
Also, I was given charge of public service supplements. It turned out to, I think, really be the catalyst for La Opinión's acceptance by the broad community. It worked in my favor and in the newspaper's favor, because here we were, the late eighties, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act, one of the major immigration laws, had just been passed. La Opinión knew that it had to do an extraordinary job in informing the community about it. It was a possibility for millions of people to become legalized. They had opened the door and said, "If you're illegal right now, you've got a couple of years to become legal, to come out of the shadows." So we did a lot of work on this particular law. We ended up winning awards, as well as collaborative efforts with the L.A. Times.
I think we ended up doing fourteen specials on the different aspects of this particular immigration law. We did things from, "These are the forms. This is how you fill it out. These are the places that you go," to uncovering issues of abuse in the system.
Anyway, this particular effort just on immigration itself really was all-consuming. The products, the journalistic products that we produced were our first real launch into massive community and legal reporting. There were a lot of things that we did for the first time that we had never done before—brought in community advisory groups and worked with all the appropriate nonprofit organizations. So we really got ourselves out there in the community, and I became seen as the person concerned about the community within the newspaper. People felt that if they had an issue, whether it was education or health, they could come to me and it would be investigated. For the first time, the newspaper became directly involved in the city where it was publishing.
In 1985, we hired a reporter to cover women's issues and health. She came to me and said that she thought we needed to do something on AIDS, and I said, "I entirely agree with you." This was 1986. People had just started reporting on AIDS, didn't even know what it was yet, but knew that it was getting out of hand and that we, as a newspaper, needed to write about it.
So we talked about it, outlined exactly what it was that we were going to do, and I went to the editor and said, "We want to do something on AIDS."
And he said, "No. Mexicans don't want to know about AIDS."
This was the thinking at the time: "This is not our disease; it's their disease. It doesn't affect us."
Lozano: It was still considered a gay disease. And also that the whole idea of dealing with something that might force us to talk about sexuality, sexual transmission, we had never done that in the paper. There were discussions about vocabulary. Can you say "condoms"? Can you use words like "anal sex"? I mean, how do you talk about this in a newspaper that is so entrenched in catholicism and with a very traditional, conservative readership? Do we push or do we become complacent and say, "When they're ready, then we'll talk about it"?
Biagi: "They" meaning?
Lozano: "They" mean our readers. So the editor literally said no, and I kept pushing. "We have to. We have to. We have to." And we ended up again doing the first series, which we later converted into a special supplement that we distributed to all of the health organizations, etc., on AIDS in Spanish about AIDS in the Hispanic community. This also won us all kinds of awards, and we were recognized left and right for breaking new ground. We were asked to go to speak to organizations about how to deal with this topic in the Hispanic community, how to address issues like vocabulary and cultural sensitivity. We again became seen as a newspaper that cared, that knew how to report, could do some straightforward investigating and reporting, but about issues that were really crucial and fundamental to the well-being of our community. So those are a couple of examples.
I went on to develop all kinds of series in that sector, what we called our public service work. It was the only stuff that was winning us awards. It was getting us out into the community. People all of a sudden began to say, "She knows what she's doing." There's no doubt about it. There was concern by some of my co-workers about whether or not I was displacing them, was I encroaching on their territory. Luckily, the newspaper at the time was really profitable enough to be able to do a lot of this work, public service work, that later on you begin to start doing less and less because you just don't have the resources.
Biagi: Do you think those projects would have happened had you not been here?
Lozano: No, no, no. There's a couple of things about women in the newsroom that everybody wonders. One, is their management style different? That's a traditional question about how you manage people and your relationship to people, and whether gender really dictates some of that. The other is are there issues that women are more concerned about? I reject the notion of "women's issues." It's funny how somebody who's come out of this long tradition of feminism and women's studies and worked on a women's collective can come around to rejecting the nomenclature of "women's issues."
Biagi: As a category.
Lozano: As a category. I think that what ends up happening is that you alienate huge groups of people by saying that these are women's issues. You can call them family issues, you can call them social issues, you can call them human issues, you can call them anything, but they need to be put in the context of broader society. That's what I think that I've done, whether it was AIDS or prenatal care or education or immigration or any of the things that I got the newspaper involved in. A lot of people will probably say, "Well, that's soft, that's fluff. That's features, human interest. That's women's stuff."
Biagi: I don't think they say that about immigration.
Lozano: No, no, but they would say it's service journalism.
Biagi: What arguments were you given against doing this, either the AIDs series or the prenatal series?
Lozano: Actually, the reason we got involved in prenatal care was because we had identified a disturbing phenomenon that showed higher rates of infant mortality among Hispanic women who had been here longer than newcomers. We found that second-generation and third-generation Latinas were less healthy, had more problems of high-risk pregnancy, weren't taking care of themselves, smoking, drinking, all the stuff that contributes to high infant mortality rates.
So we had identified this, investigated it, did some stories on it, and realized that, in fact, there are a couple of issues there. One was access to health care. Poverty and high cost of health care and all these things had contributed to women not soliciting checkups and seeing their doctors, etc. So by the time we did this one, it had come out of a hard news series, and then we developed an entire public service campaign. We worked with clinics, we worked with the public health department, we worked with all of these different entities and put together an outreach program to Hispanic women.
By now, the executive editor and some of the other people in the newsroom were convinced, because they saw these were the things that were giving us high visibility and high profile. The newspaper philosophically had also changed. Going back, in 1986, my dad retired and my brother became the publisher. When my brother became the publisher in '86, he comes in, you know, a young man ready to take over. The paper is poised at its takeoff point.
We had talked about the need for La Opinión to again change its philosophical approach to what we were doing. First under my grandfather, La Opinión was a Mexican newspaper on this side of the border. Then for my dad's, it was an American newspaper in Spanish. My brother and I decided that our goal is to be a major metropolitan daily—period. A major metropolitan daily. And the way for that to happen is for us to really be perceived as the voice of the community, the population that now is close to half of all of L.A., a third of L.A. County, and that the way to do that is to identify the big issues and then communicate them for the general population, say, "This is what our community perceives as the problem. These are their concerns. These are the issues. You are the ones who are in decision-making positions and need to do something about it. You need to respond."
Biagi: What were the barriers in 1986, and still today maybe, to having that happen?
Lozano: Language. Language is the biggest barrier. You know, we can philosophically say that we want to play the role of communicator, to be a bridge between two communities that don't interact, but our newspaper is produced in Spanish, and so you have from the mayor's office on down, saying, "I don't read your paper." So you certainly can't have the same kind of impact as a general market newspaper. You don't. You have a different readership. So what we needed to do was also develop an outreach campaign, a way of getting what we're doing into the hands of other non-readers—decision-makers, for the most part.
Biagi: So how did you go about doing that, or are you still working on it?
Lozano: No, we're definitely still working on it. We do newsletters. We have become really pro-active as a news organization. We organize debates, we do town halls, we have ongoing editorial board meetings with just about everybody that we can get our hands on. We're meeting with Senator [Barbara] Boxer next week. [California Governor Pete] Wilson was just in, and the mayor was here not too long ago. There are a couple of things. One, we've been more aggressive at
getting them here. Two, they've understood how important it is to meet with us and that our endorsement in an election is important.
Probably because I was born in this country, I understand the importance of political reporting more than anybody prior to my coming here. We just didn't do it. We covered the conventions and we would go and file our stories, but we really didn't put it into any sort of context. It was just something else that you reported on. It was something else that was happening.
When I came in, my first big election, obviously, was in 1988—the presidential election. We developed a program on how we were going to cover it, what were the elements to the campaign, and how were we going to research the issues, get feedback from our readers and go to the candidates and say, "These are the issues." By 1992, we really, I think, developed an extraordinary program for electoral coverage, and were quite successful—I think quite successful. It's hard to measure how you have impact, but—
Biagi: Do you think—I'm sure it's been discussed—that there will be English-language translations of your stories, of your projects? Have you done that? Have you thought about it?
Lozano: Yes. Well, we've talked about it a lot. We had discussions about whether or not just our editorials should be bilingual for decision-makers so they know. We decided against it, that if you really were concerned, then you should get somebody on staff who can read Spanish, because you can't do business in a city like L.A. without having some relationship to Spanish speakers and the language. But we've also talked about doing entirely separate publications in English. I'm constantly being told by people, "I wish I could read your paper. You cover the city as if it were a different city than the one the L.A. Times covers." They really are two separate approaches and two ways of dealing with issues on the street and what it is that's going on in L.A. and how does it impact society. So we've thought that maybe the only way to really do it is to publish another English language daily.
Biagi: So it's kind of a double bind.
Lozano: Yes, especially right now, because really we had gone out of our way to be perceived as the bridge between two communities, and now find ourselves needing to go one step further, and we don't really know exactly how to do that right now.
Biagi: Are there any models for you?
Lozano: No, not that would work for us. The Miami paper, for example, the Miami Herald, saw that there was a huge Spanish-language population and they produced their own Spanish-language daily, El Neuvo Herald, and El Neuvo Herald inserts into the Miami Herald, so in order for you to get the Spanish, you have to buy the English. That would work, I suppose. Well, it does work in their market. It wouldn't work here, because we're not about to get inserted into anybody else's newspaper. We know we need to do something, but we haven't figured out exactly how to do it.
You know, it's interesting, for example, when New Directions for News called—
Lozano: They said they had heard about some of the things that I was doing and were interested in asking me to join their board of directors. I've always said, you know, we had identified—
at least I had identified, maybe unconsciously, but we had identified the need for newspapers to rethink how they do business in their communities way back when, when I first came on. All of this stuff that I've been referring to is the kind of stuff that newspapers now are talking about—how do we interact with our community? How do we be more relevant to our community? How do we do more community-based reporting, if that's what you want to call it? And we've been doing this now for ten years, close to ten years, and realized, probably because of the demographics of our readership, that you have a population that reads La Opinión, that regardless of how many years they've been in the country, they were not born here. Most of our readers were not born in the U.S., so their familiarity with this system and how it works and the institutions and how they're formed is pretty minimal.
So La Opinión realized that we needed to not just inform, that we didn't just need to go out and report on something; we needed to educate. The process is one of integrating informing with educating. That's what we've been doing now since I started. All of this stuff on prenatal health care, it's not just saying there's a problem; it's giving a solution. That's exactly what we did with these public service campaigns. People have the right to know how to access the system, and we've done that now not just with the public service material, but even our political reporting. We would publish flow charts about how bills are made into laws. How does the state assembly work? How does the state legislature work? What's a primary? How do political campaigns operate? All of that became important ingredients to our presidential reporting last year. It was as much a lesson in civics as a lesson in [Bill] Clinton, [H. Ross] Perot, and [George] Bush. And people loved it, you know. It really worked well for us.
When I go out and I show people clippings of what we've done, they say, "God, I wish my newspaper was doing that, because I don't understand it either." And these are people who were born in this country, but whose newspapers do not help them to develop, I think, in the way that newspapers should be helping people. You end up thinking to yourself, well, is it that hard to figure out why newspapers are losing readers? It shouldn't be. They've become, for the most part, irrelevant.
Biagi: Are you, like other newspapers in the country, struggling to keep a young audience under twenty?
Lozano: Our audience is under twenty. Our demographics are completely different than anybody else's. Most of our readers are between the ages of twenty-five to thirty-five. It's mostly male, but we've done a lot to attract the female reader in the last year and a half or so, and now our readership is almost fifty-fifty, we've found out.
Biagi: But the under-twenty readership, like other newspapers, expanding their comic sections, having a special "teen" section, things like that?
Lozano: We've done some of that. We've expanded our comic section, we have what we call in Spanish "Pájina Infantil," the children's page. It's got a lot of didactic interactive material.
[End Tape 1, Side A; Begin Tape 1, Side B]
Lozano: Even in our entertainment section we're looking at ways to attract that younger audience. We've just launched, in fact, this last year "rock en español," which has become a hit. It's a major phenomenon—rock and roll, you know. It's unbelievable. It's really taken off again. That's that younger audience. It's not your twenty-five to thirty-five. They're much more traditional in terms of the types of music. So we've tried to integrate into most of our sections finding ways to
attract that part of the younger audience. We certainly don't do it well enough. One of the things we're probably going to look at doing next year are youth pages, not for small kids, not the comics and what we're doing right now, but adolescents, looking at ways to attract teens and talk to issues about being adolescent.
Biagi: Do you feel that your readers who start reading in Spanish, sixteen and twenty years old, will stay with you? Do you feel that they will?
Lozano: Well, we hope they will. That's one of the reasons why we're doing this. We have a big Newspapers in Education (NIE) program. We're the NIE Spanish-language newspaper in L.A., obviously, but we've been doing that for years. So our newspaper is used in the school districts.
One of the things that all bilingual programs will teach you is that you start off in your native language, and once you become proficient in your native language, then you can transfer into your second language much more easily. What we think happens is that people who learn to read and write in Spanish first maintain that. In fact, all of our readership studies show that even when 40 percent of our readers have been here twelve years or over, they still prefer to read in Spanish. Even though they're perfectly bilingual and proficient in English, they still prefer to be informed in Spanish. They prefer reading Spanish. So it's not a question of dominance. When you talk about language, you think, "Are they Spanish dominant or English dominant or are they multilingual?" Here it's a question of preference—"I like it better. I feel more comfortable reading in Spanish, even if I know English."
Biagi: "The language speaks to me better."
Biagi: And don't you think, though, in a way that there are so many criticisms that come at you, especially in Los Angeles you've got all the arguments about bilingualism and whether it's appropriate in this society, how do you counteract those criticisms?
Lozano: Well, probably the most important thing that I would say is that our duty is to have an informed public. If we were not to exist, you would have millions of people in L.A. who are uninformed and unable to participate. And which is worse? I think it's better for us to exist and to allow people, one, to continue their education through reading newspapers like ours, to be informed, to be able to make decisions, to participate in decision-making processes. We don't advocate staying in the Spanish language completely. We understand that it's important if you're going to be in this country and you're going to succeed and you're going to thrive and survive, you have to speak English, and we say that directly. We're not saying, "Don't learn English" by any means. We're saying, "Learn English, and we can even help you," because that's exactly what I was saying. Everybody agrees now, the best way to teach people English is to first teach them to be literate in their own language, and that's part of our role, obviously.
Biagi: Let's go back a minute.
Lozano: Okay. My life history?
Biagi: What I'm also interested in is the composition of the newsroom today. Is it different? Has your being here had an effect on that, do you think?
Lozano: Yes. One of the things that has changed is that we're a very small newspaper for our circulation size. Our newsroom currently has less than seventy people, and that's everybody. That includes reporters, editors, photographers and proofreaders and translators. But the one thing that changed after I came in was we expanded the local metro staff. We may have had one or two reporters before, and now we have ten, with the metro editor and assistant metro editor and assignment editor. This all has to do with wanting to be a major metropolitan daily, realizing that if we're going to accomplish our goal, we'd better get some people out on the street and start reporting.
Biagi: What was happening before? What was in the paper?
Lozano: It was mostly wire service. It was almost 100 percent wire service, which was a big complaint. We had a nice sports desk. We've always had good sports and some nice entertainment coverage, but news coverage was almost 100 percent wire service. Now if you pick up the newspaper on any given day, you can have maybe one wire-service story on the front page, and the rest of it is bylines by our staff. I organized and developed our state desk and our national desk. Just last year, after the presidential elections, in fact, we decided that we had gained such momentum, we were so proud of ourselves for what we had been able to accomplish, that we put the resources into opening a D.C. office. We had never done that. We didn't have anybody in D.C., and we weren't reporting directly from D.C. We realize that so much happens there and that La Opinión really has become so important in terms of just its role as a major daily in this city, that we needed to have somebody there, especially with the new administration and so many changes. It just seemed like the right time to do it.
So I think those are the things that I would say I was responsible for. What we had done under the other editor was to open a Mexico City bureau, which was also very important. We have really two places where we're taken very seriously—in L.A. and in Mexico City. It's amazing how much they pay attention to what we're writing about Mexico down there.
Biagi: Has the male/female balance changed in the newsroom?
Lozano: Yes, yes. In fact, I think we have more women reporters now than male, even. The other day, every single one of our stories on the front page was written by a woman.
My relationship to staff has changed quite a bit. I'm the one who calls the meetings now in the afternoon, and there are other women involved.
Biagi: You're at the table! [Laughter.]
Lozano: That's right. I'm at the table and there are other women at the table. The issue of whether or not people respect you isn't an issue anymore. There's no doubt. We're all quite proud of what we're doing, and now even though we've made tremendous inroads, there's tons more to do. I mean, nobody's satisfied yet with the newspaper, but we're, I think, quite happy with what we're doing right now, and we continue to redo the paper constantly. It's a very dynamic process. We launch new sections and we take away old sections and we do more in color here. We've done a lot of that.
Just this last year, one of the sections, in fact, that I should mention that I launched in 1986 or '87 was a new section. We had nothing on lifestyles at the time. We really were a small newspaper that was either news, which was wire service, sports, or entertainment. We launched a new section called "Acceso." I think it was 1988. "Access." "Acceso" was conceived as a vehicle
that was going to actually help accomplish the goal of helping people to integrate into society, realizing that our readers don't come from here, realizing that they may have just recently arrived, that don't have any idea how to access the system. This was the section that was going to help them do that. We profiled a lot of community organizations. We had consumer columns. How do you get a driver's license? How do you apply for a library card? How do you read your child's report card from school? The grading system is different than the grading systems in Latin America. All of the things that would have anything to do with helping you succeed, helping you make that transition into a society that really is quite frightening and certainly foreign to the one that you're from.
It's a section that I started in '88 and has been quite helpful, I think, and more or less successful. I say more or less because circulation on the day that it publishes has always been less. It comes out on Sundays, and our Sunday circulation is actually less than our daily circulation, because we're a street-sale-based newspaper. We don't have subscriptions, so Sundays, people just don't go out and buy the newspaper like they do during the work week.
Biagi: This is also very different.
Lozano: Oh, yes, we're completely different. We have almost no subscription base, and it's all street sales. Our Sunday circulation is substantially lower than Monday through Friday. It's difficult, then, to read your market. Ours are 100,000 people every day dropping their quarter and buying the newspaper, and you're not sure if it's the same person or a different person.
Then we have a high readership, because the pass-along rate is so high for our community. One person buys it, and four people read it. That's higher than other newspapers. In other newspapers, one person buys it and two and a half people read it. So we've got almost double readership per copy than anybody else. So our daily readership is over 400,000. Our paid circulation is obviously substantially less.
Anyway, we launched "Acceso" in '88, and this year revamped it, gave it a new format, turned it into a full twelve-page color section, and changed the name to "Vida y Estilo"—"Lifestyle." This became sort of our family section. We had all the same stuff, essentially—parenting and consumer tips and managing your finances and sort of the household kinds of things that are important for people. We gave it color and jazzed it up a little bit more, did a little bit more on personal health and beauty tips and personal care and all of that, and really pitched it to women that this was going to help you in all of the aspects of your life, whether you are a working woman or not. It's been very well received, not because the content has changed so much, but because the design has changed. It's all color.
Biagi: When you go to an advertiser and sell your newspaper, what kinds of arguments do you get against using Hispanic media? What kind of things do people say to you?
Lozano: I would think probably the first argument, the most predominant argument, is that, "If I want to reach the Hispanic market, I'll do it through broadcast—TV and radio, because Hispanics don't read." That's the big fallacy, that Hispanics don't read. Granted you'll get greater market coverage through TV versus a newspaper, and we say, well, okay, so maybe that's true. Maybe that is true, but when you look at a circulation like ours and you think 400,000 readers, well, that's a nice number, it's a good number for a daily newspaper, but it's certainly not the millions that you're going to get on TV. But we would reply with the same arguments that all different media makes when you sell against TV—your message will last longer, you can be more detailed. There are different things about TV versus print.
But the worst of it is to hear the people say, "Hispanics don't read." It's a fallacy. It's absolutely false. I don't know where that came from. I don't know where it came from, because you can go into any Latin American country and newspapers are so prevalent. I mean, in Mexico City there's over forty daily newspapers. Everybody reads. They may not read the same newspaper. Our circulation is higher than any daily that circulates in Mexico City, but it's one of forty. So you start adding it up, and it's a lot of people who are reading. Everybody's reading. You can't go on the bus, you can't stand at a street corner without seeing people reading. They're either reading magazines or they're reading newspapers. So the idea that Hispanics don't read is a real false argument.
Biagi: Danny [Villanueva] was trying to sell KMEX and they didn't have any ratings to speak of, because they weren't being tracked. So the first argument he would hear, everybody would say to him, "Why don't you people just learn to speak English?"
Biagi: And his first comeback was, "Why don't you learn to speak Spanish?" [Laughter.]
Biagi: It does put you on the defensive. He felt in selling advertising, he was always counteracting something that other people didn't have to counteract.
Lozano: That's definitely true. I'm not in the advertising department, but I know enough about it to realize that we have also made tremendous inroads. Our national advertising lineage for the size of newspaper is really quite high and certainly competitive with a lot of English-language dailies.
Biagi: What's your ad percentage, typically?
Lozano: It's at least 60/40, just like anybody else. But we've made a lot of inroads with national advertisers in the large retail, regional advertisers. Our Sunday product may not be as stuffed full of inserts as everybody else's, but we have all the big ones—J.C. Penny's and Mervyn's and Sears and Target. They've been difficult sells, no doubt about it. It's taken a long time to get them to see us as a valid vehicle, but you have to realize that if you want to reach that consumer market, you're not going to reach them in the L.A. Times.
Biagi: And the L.A. Times is arguing that mainstream media is where you're going to reach the Hispanic market.
Lozano: Well, they're wrong. There's no duplicate of readership. Three percent read both newspapers. That means that 97 percent, our audience, is not reading the L.A. Times. They do not read the L.A. Times. I think the advertisers have finally come around. This is not an issue of whether I like it or I don't like it or is language right or is language wrong. This is an issue of selling their product. They're trying to move their product. You're not going to get that consumer by advertising in the L.A. Times. Now, the L.A. Times has realized that and they started a Spanish-language product, specifically because they know that their newspaper is not reaching that audience.
Biagi: So that's going to become your competition?
Lozano: Yes. For the last five years I've been saying, "Our competition is not other Spanish-language media. Our competition is going to be the major English-language media companies, and they're going to find out (and they've started to find out) that there's a community out there that can be served, and they're going to try to figure out ways to do it, and they're going to launch their own Spanish-language products." And they're all doing it now.
That's going to end up being our biggest competition, because we have a strong product, the oldest product, and the best. I'm convinced of it. We do things so extraordinarily well here, but do not have the resources and the infrastructure that a Gannett has or that a Dow-Jones has or that Knight-Ridder has or that Times-Mirror has. It's almost the same phenomenon that most family-owned, independently operated newspapers have seen in the last four decades or so, where they've begun to disappear and are taken over by a big media company. That's what, I think, is going to end up being sort of the scenario on the horizon for papers like ours.
Biagi: The Times-Mirror [Co.] has invested in your corporation.
Biagi: When did they do that, and why did you think that was a good idea?
Lozano: Like I mentioned, we had gotten to a point where we were growing so fast and we couldn't keep up. Our circulation had skyrocketed. We had gone from around 100 employees to 450 employees. We were at the point where we couldn't keep up with the growth and really were just chomping at the bit, but we couldn't do anything because we didn't have the resources. We didn't have the capital. Revenues weren't enough to allow us to do what we needed to do.
Biagi: This was what year?
Lozano: It became obvious towards the end of the eighties—'89 or so, '88, '89. So we started to discuss the need for raising investment capital. My dad and my brother, in fact, I think were at an ANPA [American Newspaper Publishers Association] meeting and talked to Tom Johnson, the publisher of the L.A. Times, about doing something together. In fact, it was an entirely different concept than what it ended up to be.
At the same time my dad started getting inquiries from other people, other newspaper companies, really, about whether or not we'd be interested in selling or becoming partners and the like. We began to talk about whether or not it really wasn't time to think seriously about taking on a partner. Mostly it was my brother and my father who, through a series of conversations with Times-Mirror, decided that it would be in our best interest to go into a partnership with the Times-Mirror Company because of the already good relationship with the L.A. Times, our familiarity with the players, and the overall feeling that it could be a good marriage. It took a long time. We literally negotiated this deal for two years, and we started off talking about selling 10 percent, and we ended up going all the way to 50. The feelings on the part of Times-Mirror Company was that if we were going to be partners, we should be partners, and partners meant fifty-fifty. At the same time it was important to us to not lose control of the newspaper or of the company.
So the final deal was that we sold 50 percent of the company, but maintained control of the board of directors. There's five Lozano family members and four Times-Mirror members on the board. It's a nine-member board—five of us and four of them. Operational control is in the hands of us. There's no direct relationship in operations that way.
Biagi: When you were talking about Times-Mirror there as your competition, you were really talking in a way about competing with yourself, weren't you?
Lozano: Yes. It's turned out to not be what we would have liked it to be or what we even thought it would be, not because of the partnership, but because what they've decided to do on their own outside of the partnership. We've talked about it with them, and our concern that the Los Angeles Times launching a Spanish-language weekly in our market is competition for us. They have home delivery, which we don't have, but what they're offering is not sold. It's a free, weekly, in Spanish, home-delivered, and they're targeting our advertising base. They're targeting our readership base, because what they're going for is the Spanish-dominant market. They used to have something bilingual, but it was a whole other market. Now they've decided to go after the Spanish-dominant, which is our reader, our advertiser, and it concerns us. We're not happy about it.
Biagi: When did it start?
Lozano: Maybe about two months ago.
Biagi: And the name is?
Lozano: Nuestro Tiempo.
Biagi: On another subject, to shift here, in 1985 you come here. In '86 you just got married. You got married, had the two children. Arrangements to manage both home and work—how did you do that?
Lozano: I had somebody who came in and took care of the kids while I would come to work. I think I came back to work on both occasions after six weeks.
Biagi: When did you leave? How long were you here, pregnant, before you—
Lozano: Up until delivery.
Biagi: The reason I'm asking is Catherine Shen in Honolulu, they literally walked her out of the newsroom and into the hospital, straight from the newsroom to the hospital.
Lozano: Oh, my God! [Laughter.]
Biagi: She was on deadline. She wanted to finish the deadline work before she left.
Lozano: No, I wasn't that anxious to be here. I can't remember if I worked on a Friday and had—I don't remember, but I think it was only a couple of days that I had left. So I had somebody who came in and helped me at home.
Biagi: Just during the day, not a live-in person?
Lozano: Just during the day.
Biagi: Did you find that difficult?
Lozano: You know, not really. Sure, I had a hard time. I missed the kids and I sometimes wondered whether or not it was appropriate to work as long hours as I worked and all of that. But I think that kids are able to absorb your reality and to feel comfortable about it if you're comfortable about it. If it's not an issue for you, they don't perceive it as an issue. They were quite happy. I had good help at home, and they were happy. Then I would get home from work. I always thought it wasn't quite right, because I would only see them for about an hour in the afternoons or in the evenings, and then I would only see them for maybe an hour in the mornings. I mean, it's not very much time.
Biagi: Was your husband gone the same hours you were?
Biagi: What was his occupation?
Lozano: In fact, I forgot to mention this huge part of my duties. We took over a weekly in the San Fernando Valley.
Biagi: You and your husband?
Lozano: No, this company—La Opinión.
Lozano: El Eco del Valle. It was a weekly. I think we purchased it—I don't remember exactly when we bought it, but we bought it and left it to be managed by another gentleman who was the publisher of that weekly, and then there were a lot of problems with it. I was asked to take it over. I became a publisher of El Eco del Valle in 1990.
Lozano: Actually, I was just thinking, I would actually have to look on my résumé, but I was named publisher of El Eco and associate publisher of La Opinión. No more managing editor. Out of the newsroom, because I was asked to take over the publication in the valley. So it started off probably at about 20,000 or 30,000. By the time I was done with it, it was up to 80,000. [Laughter.] It was quite successful. It went up to 80,000. Our lineage had skyrocketed, but we were losing money. It was one of these things where everybody loves it. We had really turned it into a community newspaper. I came in and I said, "We can't pretend to be a newspaper. News is something that happens every day, and you can't compete with a daily." Our mentality as a weekly was one of being a community weekly. It really got into the local neighborhood issues up in the San Fernando Valley, and some of the pockets of the valley have 70, 80 percent Hispanic, Latino populations.
So we really turned it into a community paper and started home delivery. It really took off. It was well received. The community loved it. The politicians up there loved it. The schools
loved it, the churches, the trade schools, everybody. They saw it as the weekly up in the valley, but unfortunately it had gotten off to a bad start. The person who was running it prior to me had just not really taken care of things, so we were still losing money. We weren't able to raise the advertising rates to be comparable to our distribution. La Opinión's board of directors decided to close it down about a year and a half ago, because also the recession had hit, La Opinión's lineage and revenues were off, and we didn't foresee being able to sustain a loser for any number of years until it became profitable. So even though it was such a great paper, we ended up having to close it down after about a year and a half or so, after I took it over.
So anyway, my husband was handling distribution for El Eco del Valle. He had worked here in this company in the circulation department, and then I asked him and he went over there to put together our distribution systems.
Biagi: Did you live near there?
Biagi: So you were commuting.
Lozano: Yes, we were. But it's not that hard a commute. It's not that far.
Biagi: So what I'm getting at, you were with your kids maybe an hour a day and night, an hour in the morning during that time, too. Did anybody ever say to you, "You're abandoning your family. Why don't you take care of your kids?"
Lozano: Only my husband. [Laughter.] It was hard for him to—well, for a couple of reasons. He's not from this country; he is from South America, and quite traditional—the relationship between a man and a woman and expectations about a wife. He had a hard time with the hours that I put in and the visibility of my position and a lot of different things, and we ended up, I think, splitting up over those very issues.
Biagi: So the difficulties that a woman would have in a management position, do you think it equals difficulties that a man would have in a management position and their personal relationship with a spouse?
Lozano: Do you mean—
Biagi: Is it harder?
Lozano: It's harder, certainly. There continues to be expectations that women are going to perform certain duties and that even if she has a job that's as high pressured and stressful and has tremendous responsibility as my job or as any woman in management, especially in newspapers, she still is expected to do everything at home and to be the primary caregiver and responsible for the kids and making sure that they're taken care of. I don't think men feel that pressure. Most of the men that I know may be loving and caring and good fathers, but they're still not the primary ones responsible for the upbringing of the children. Women continue to be, and maintaining the house and making sure that the shopping is done and all of those things, and getting the kids into school and getting them into after-school programs. All of that is the responsibility, I think, of the woman much more so than the man. So it's harder. There's no doubt about it.
In this business, in particular, you're expected to put in long hours. Whether you're reporting and you've got to travel unexpectedly and on short notice, "Pack your bags and we're going to send you someplace," and you can't say, "No, because I've got a Christmas program coming up," it's very hard in this business. In mine, I've worked it out in such a way that I really literally don't stay any later than seven unless I absolutely have to, if it's an election night or something that really is important that I need to be here for, but I don't close the edition. I personally am not on deadline that way like a lot of other editors.
Biagi: But your stay is still at least an eleven-hour day here.
Lozano: Oh, yeah, yeah, and I work at least sixty hours a week. I still go home and take home all of my stuff. I work a lot. I work long hard hours. But what I think is important, for example, again not to talk about my husband, but just to give an example, he had a hard time with me working as much as I was working, and so the children, when they started getting old enough to really think for themselves, had somebody saying to them, maybe not literally, but the inference was there that, "Your mother shouldn't work as much as she works." So then, of course, it becomes harder because your kids say to you, "Why are you leaving now? Are you going to be home late tonight? When are you coming home? How come you're packing your bags?" For them it becomes traumatic because somebody's saying to them, "This is wrong," or, "Your mother, maybe she should be here more with you."
Unfortunately, but once that pressure wasn't there in my life any longer and it was me and the kids, even though now I've become a single mother, it becomes easier, because my kids have accepted me. They know that I work and they know that I work very hard, and they love that I work at a newspaper. They are well informed and they watch TV. My son is in first grade, but I went in for the parent-teacher conference last week, and the teacher said, "Your child is unbelievable. He knows about current events. He talks about President Clinton. It's almost as if he's watching the news." And this is a six-year-old. But it's true, he's being raised in an environment that is quite my environment, but he appreciates it, and I think he's all the better for it.
So I think that part of the issue with being female and being in this type of a work experience, if a person feels comfortable with it, the kids can learn to feel comfortable with it. Maybe later on it will be harder. Maybe as they get older and it's much more important for them to have that direct relationship and somebody there with them, maybe it will get harder later on. People say that, that this is still the easier part of their life and of child-rearing. It's once they hit adolescence that you start to worry, but so far, so good.
Biagi: Let's stop there.
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