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One Man’s Vision

Hispanic newspaper in the works


José Peguero has a vision: to create a monthly Hispanic newspaper for the Anchorage community focusing on education, health, employment and housing among other issues relevant to the growing community.

Peguero, who has attended or graduated from vo-tech, college and university programs in Alaska, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, has a diverse background, to include working at a laundry mat, on the Alaska Marine Highway and as a directional driller; dredging for gold, in construction technology, as a legislative aide; buying real estate; and his current position as school district custodian.

A Long Way From Home

He was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, which is on an island that includes Haiti. He left when he was 16 and arrived in New York City. By his mid-20s he was in Alaska, where he has spent most of his adulthood, sans a trip down to New Mexico where he attended college and worked in the oilfields in what he calls “cactus drilling,” and a stint in Puerto Rico where he had 18 apartments.

One of his fondest memories is as a legislative aide for Betty Cato, who was from Valdez and led the House Transportation Committee. “She taught me a lot,” he said. “She said old age and trickery overcome youth and skill.”

But there are no tricks in his bag, other than to make his dream happen. “I’ve always been an avid reader,” he says. “I like to write also.”

He’s seen several attempts at Spanish newspapers come and go, but he is determined, his, “Hispanic Alaska,” is here to stay. As editor and publisher, he hopes to utilize talent from high school and college journalism students, as well as reporters he knows from out of state. He plans to print the publication, which will have a look much like the “Anchorage Press,” through a nonprofit university press.

With nearly 40,000 Hispanics living in Anchorage, about 30,000 of those from Mexico, 5,000-6,000 from the Dominican Republic and the rest from Puerto Rico or other Spanish-speaking countries, he believes he has an audience, and a growing one at that.

“The Korean community has two newspapers and there are about 5,000 Korean people in Anchorage,” he said. “I think now is the time to have a viable Spanish publication. The Hispanic population doubles every 10 years in Anchorage.” By 2020, he expects 60,000 to call Alaska home, mainly due to immigrants migrating out of California to Alaska for jobs and better opportunities.

Reaching Out

He will distribute the bilingual publication through about 20 Hispanic churches, word-of-mouth, Mexican restaurants and those listed on a Hispanic directory. He plans to charge $2 an issue, with the first issue coming out this month.

He expects start-up costs will be about $2,000, and he has some background in journalism. A lot is learn-as-he-goes, but he’s not afraid.

“I’ve had the idea for three years,” he said. “Now is the time to make it happen. I think the Hispanic community needs a voice. No?”

I wish him luck. Newspapers face hard times these days. But with his determination, he just might make it.

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