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Spanish Only, Please 

Valley's first Spanish newspaper to hit stands

Even as some Idaho politicians are arguing that English should be the only language spoken in the Gem State, a new media outlet clearly feels otherwise.

A new weekly Spanish-language newspaper is set to hit newsstands Oct. 6. La Prensa Libre, or "The Free Press," is targeted at the exploding population of Hispanics in the Treasure Valley. The new publication is produced by the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Stephanie Pressly, the publisher of the Press-Tribune, is the publisher of La Prensa. She plans to distribute 10,000 copies each Friday throughout the valley, targeting high-traffic locations.

"The time is right for such a publication," Pressly said in a prepared statement. "The market is growing and vibrant, businesses want to reach this important demographic, and we have the resources to devote to an independent publication."

The Idaho Press-Tribune is the only other daily newspaper in the Treasure Valley beside the Idaho Statesman, serving the growing part of western Ada County recently targeted by the Statesman.

Pressly based her timing for La Prensa's release on the numbers: The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that the number of Hispanics in Canyon County has increased by 106 percent between 1990 and 2000. In Ada County, the Census Bureau reports that the Hispanic population has grown by 146 percent in the same time frame.

La Prensa will have a dedicated staff, Pressly said, including a general manager, reporter, an editor and designer, and sales and classified advertising personnel.

The decision to publish a Spanish-language newspaper comes at a politically charged time for America's Hispanic population. The U.S. Congress has been contemplating several bills to restrict all forms of illegal immigration, and the issue has become a campaign touchstone as well. Last week Bill Sali, the Republican candidate for Idaho's First Congressional District, said he was endorsing a bill now before Congress that would make English the "official language" of the United States.

To become his party's nominee, Sali had to beat back vigorous opposition from Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez, whose single issue in the June primary was the cessation of illegal immigration. He successfully pushed for Canyon County to use only English on official county documents.

But La Prensa will be a news-oriented paper, not an advocacy sheet, Pressly said.

"Executives at our company debated what the paper's role should be--an advocate for Hispanic causes and concerns, or a reflection of that community," she said in her statement. "We decided on the latter." La Prensa, she said, will have news, sports, entertainment and an opinion page.

The debate over English-only, Pressly said, is "government-based."

La Prensa Libre will not be the first Spanish-language publication in Idaho. the bilingual Idaho Unido is published in Pocatello.

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