Community newspapers are more likely to succeed with readers, advertisers and the community when all residents’ voices are heard. Such was a primary mission of Bill Horner III and his partners, Kirk Bradley and Chris Enrenfeld when they acquired The Chatham News and The Chatham Record (North Carolina) in November 2018 and then combined them as The News + Record for all of Chatham County.
Horner, as the publisher, began to think about how the News + Record could serve the county’s increasing Latinx American population, even though a substantial portion of those potential readers didn’t read or write English. Their stories weren’t being covered, especially their struggles and triumphs during the pandemic. This was the impetus for creating La Voz de Chatham, or The Voice of Chatham.
“Chatham County is a diverse place, and one of our challenges was to determine how to cover the Latinx American population,” said Horner. “I’m convinced a community newspaper does more than report local news. It must also bring people together. Only then can we all benefit from all of the community’s strengths to help each other.”
With support from a Facebook Journalism Project COVID-19 Local News Relief Grant, Horner hired Victoria Johnson, a recent college journalism graduate who speaks Spanish. Johnson's task was to provide coverage for the News + Record’s print editions, in English, about how COVID-19 was impacting the Latinx American community and to tell stories Horner said “needed to be told” about the almost 14% of the county’s Latinx or Spanish-speaking population.