Diane Alverio, founder of CTLatinoNews.com, MassLatinoNews.com, RILatinoNews.com, first shared her startup experiences for our 1000 Stories Campaign

Diane_Alverio_TSETo commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, our 1000 Stories Spotlight this week is of a female powerhouse who started a company to provide deeper understanding and a much–needed voice of the Latinos in the New England area. Frustrated by the lack of information and misconceptions about the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, Diane Alverio started three English-language news sites focused on issues surrounding the Latino community. CTLatinoNews.com, MassLatinoNews.com, RILatinoNews.com now serve as free information sources to the English mainstream media and have been honored as one of the most innovative media ideas by the McCormick Foundation J-Lab.

Reason for starting
Existing mainstream media has not effectively provided an adequate, accurate flow of information about Latino residents and issues that impact this growing segment of the population in New England. The lack of coverage and balanced portrayal of Latinos is critical because public opinion and ultimately decision making is based on information received. A limited representation of Latinos skews public perception and becomes an obstacle in progress on public policy matters that affect all. By providing coverage in English, we not only engage Latinos – who are increasingly becoming English dominant – in public policy issues, but also provide an objective essential source of information decision makers can access. It is clear that new “gatekeepers” are necessary to ensure an accurate flow of information. The media has always served as a “watchdog” and with a small staff, we have only begun to effectively cover the myriad of issues affecting Latinos in our region.

How do you define success?
Success has many facets. We know we are already providing a much needed credible source of information regarding Latinos and Latino related issues in our area. This information provides knowledge to key decision makers, so we do see our work already making a difference in influencing the public. Our first news site, CTLatinoNews.com which is a year old now, is read regularly by government and opinion leaders in the state and even the Governor’s office gets our news clips. Our news service provides our news articles at no cost to other English mainstream media, which frequently uses our stories. This lets us know, not only are we producing a quality product, but a much needed one that other media outlets value.

Biggest Success
On a national scale, our new site and news service was selected by the McCormick Foundation’s J-Lab as one of its four national winners for innovative media ideas. This recognition by such a prestigious journalist organizations, validated the quality of our work and also provided a financial award which was a great “assist” in developing our two new sites in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, in order to give Latinos there a voice as well. On a local level, our success has been defined by how quickly Latinos and Non-Latinos have embraced us. Our readers include Latinos who are in professional jobs, government workers, business owners, homeowners and we are recommended reading in some classes at two colleges in the state.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Without a doubt our top challenge is educating advertisers that reaching Latinos does not mean Spanish language. Latinos are a diverse and complex market and can not be lumped together into one category and reached with a simple message. A good analogy would be political candidates running for office for example, they would never advertise to women using one method. Time and money would be invested to determine what motivates a soccer mom vs. a businesswoman. This same type of investment must be made to reach the Latino consumer, or voter. In Connecticut, U.S. Census data indicates that 73% of Latinos speak English. Our young people, while they identify strongly with their Latino roots, are becoming increasingly English dominant. To address this advertising obstacle, we spend a large percentage of our time meeting with trade groups to try to update their perceptions of Latino

Who is your most important role model?
Strong women are my role models. As a young Latina, I was raised in a traditional manner, but fortunately had a mother who wanted her daughters to get an education – so we could take care of ourselves. That base led to my strong work ethic and independent streak. Along the way, I have been motivated by so many other women I could identify with, who did not let anyone else define them or their abilities. This collection of role models so to speak, has given me the confidence to explore, be open to and tackle new projects.

Are you a woman who has started a business? Submit your story and it will appear on our site. We will use it to find candidates for our 2013 filming season and for blog posts.