El Sol de Texas Turns Twenty-One

On September 30, 1966, when Jesus and Sara Gutierrez published their first issue of El Sol de Texas, many people asked whether the Dallas Hispanic community had the financial muscle-or the desire-to support a Spanish-language newspaper. Now, more than twenty years later, it seems the answer is yes: the paper is surviving, if not prospering. El Sol hasn’t missed an edition in two decades. Later this year, in fact, the paper will celebrate its twenty-first anniversary. The timing is a happy coincidence, for El Sol finally seems poised to come of age. A change of ownership in March 1985 improved its financial footing, and a revised editorial policy stresses local news over wire stories about Latin America.

El Sol’s primary editorial purpose remains, as it has been from the beginning, coverage of Hispanic-oriented news that tends to go unreported in mainstream publications. El Sol covers that neglected segment of the community, from police beat items to short takes on local His-panics who have won awards or promotions.

“Our emphasis has become more on the community.” says co-owner Charles Orten, who with Burk Murchison bought the paper from the Gutierrezes. “We look at it as a community newspaper like the Garland newspaper or the Car-rollton newspaper.”

Chief editor En-rique Gomez plans to give El Sol a harder edge. “We are a minor- ity newspaper,” he says. “When we find a discrimination case, we try to write stories about it.” As an example. Gomez points with pride to El Sol’s stories last year accusing Mexican customs officials of extorting money from Mexican nationals as they returned home from the United States.

Exposes, though, are more the exception than the rule. Partly as a consequence, critics say El Sol is neither a leader in molding opinion within the Hispanic community nor a voice often heard-or heeded-beyond it. The paper is sold at some 200 Metroplex locations, but the newspaper claims only about 50,000 readers.

But El Sol’s readers are a loyal group. Gomez says. “They feel like it’s their own newspaper. When they have a problem, they feel like they can call us and we’ll do something about it.”

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