Monday, June 1, 2009

Writers for Atlanta's Mundo Hispanico and Azizah Magazine Win New America Media Awards for Outstanding Journalism

/PRNewswire / -- New America Media (NAM) announced today that two journalists from ethnic news organizations in Atlanta won prestigious awards in NAM's national awards contest, which includes entries from ethnic media outlets across the country.

Leslie Froelich, of Mundo Hispanico, a weekly Hispanic newspaper, and staff writers at Azizah, a monthly magazine covering Muslim woman, will be honored for their outstanding work. Ms. Froelich won an Arts, Sports & Entertainment category for an article on "Spanglish," the mixing of the Spanish and English languages. The Azizah writers won an environmental category for feature stories exploring the Islamic approach to environmentalism.

Sandy Close, NAM's executive director, said the award winners exemplify the quality of work performed by ethnic media outlets across the country. Citing a new poll showing that the ethnic media in America is growing as mainstream newspapers struggle to keep readers, Ms. Close said more and more Americans are recognizing the influence of the ethnic media.

"Even as both mainstream and the ethnic media struggle to survive in difficult economic times, it's clear that the quality of work, and the ethnic media's commitment to the communities that they serve, has never been better," Ms. Close said. "The ethnic media is continuing to make an impact in urban and rural communities. NAM award winners, such as Ms. Froelich and Azizah Magazine, demonstrate that the ethnic media is making a difference."

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, and not speaking a word of Spanish until she learned it in high school, Ms. Froelich never imagined she would soon be writing for Nuevo Sumario newspaper in Cordoba, Argentina, then find herself covering finance, business, real estate, heath, and lifestyle at Mundo Hispanico, Atlanta's largest Spanish language newspaper.

It was in the newsroom, overhearing colleagues from Venezuela, Columbia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and across Latin America, where Ms. Froelich was first fascinated by the sounds of Spanglish, the hybrid language of English and Spanish embraced especially by younger Latinos in the U.S. While researching the story, Ms. Froelich sought to determine if the collision of Spanish and English was viewed as a bad thing -- a devaluing of the Spanish language -- or a good thing -- a natural evolution of words helping create a common framework especially among newcomers.

Ms. Froelich was surprised by her findings. "I thought I was going to find more of a balanced mix of responses, particularly among academics, that Spanglish is ruining the Spanish language, obstructing it," she said. "When really, most felt it was a reflection of where the country is headed."

The Atlanta-based Azizah Magazine published a package of stories entitled: "Color Me Green, Loving Planet Earth." Their stories explored the connection between Islam and environmentalism. It included one staffer's first person perspective of junking one's car for car sharing, a one woman's journey toward eco-activism. Contributor Nadirah Z. Sabir described running her last minute errands using a car share service. Readers were also invited to take the Azizah Green Test from editor Azizah Zahera to find out how green they are.

"We wanted to emphasize, going green is dear to us, because we have a spiritual responsibly to care for the earth," says Tayyibah Taylor, editor-in-chief and publisher of Azizah Magazine. "We tried to show how Muslims were doing it here."

Despite an emphasis on faith, Ms. Taylor says it was very important to not "preach." Instead, their package of stories tried to engage readers by highlighting what people were doing to make small changes in their lives. "The more you know about options and possibilities," Ms. Taylor said, "the more apt you are to put it into practice."

All the award winners from around the country will be honored at NAM's National Ethnic Media Expo & Awards on June 4-5 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta. The awards will be presented on June 4 at 6:00 pm, an event that will be co-sponsored by NAM and the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication.

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