Government clerk. R&B talent manager. Fashion design student. Silvana Diaz, 29, has worn many hats, but never intended one of them to be publisher.
But when her family's Spanish-language newspaper faced closure because of economic pressures in 2009, Diaz didn't hesitate -- much. "It took me about a month to decide to leave my job" as a clerk with the Town of Hempstead, she recalled. "But I believed so much in what my parents had done, and I couldn't see leaving this void in the community."
Diaz and her family fled Peru in 1989, when she was 4. Her parents started Noticia less than two years later, understanding firsthand the struggles of immigrants in a country where they don't know the language.
Today the Baldwin-based paper has 30,000 subscribers and 500,000 online page views per month, she said. Noticia sponsors a scholarship foundation for Hispanic students, and Diaz mentors minority youth. "I don't see myself as this big inspiration and role model yet, because there is so much that I still want to do," she said. "But if I can help my community, I do."
Who reads Noticia?
Noticia serves the first generation of immigrants that don't read English fluently. But for noticiali.com my goal is to serve the second generation. There are many like myself who may prefer to read English but are very proud of their heritage and want to stay connected to their roots. The challenge will be to find what that second generation wants.
What is Noticia's mission?
Our mission since day one has been to inform and educate the [Spanish-speaking] Long Island community. I make sure that my readers are being served and are getting the best content possible in high-level Spanish.
Do you run the business differently than your parents did?
One of the first things I did was I fired a lot of people. It was hard, but the changes had to be made [for the paper to survive]. Letting go of some staff was very difficult, but it was necessary to hire bilingual staff in order for us to grow, reach new potential clients and offer better information to our readers.
How would you answer people who say that print journalism is in its death throes? Does it have a future?
Absolutely! In our case we serve a niche population, and I think that gives us a longer life span than traditional publications, but over the long term, we will make the transition to digital. One of the things I've done over the past five years is embrace technology, not fear it.
Your parents were able to launch Noticia soon after they came to the United States. What message do you hope that sends to recent immigrants?
The possibilities are endless. It's really about the people they surround themselves with. At one point I was a youth counselor in Central Islip. They were such sweet kids, but each one had a story. I was able to relate to them and be a role model. I had undergone some of the same hardships and made something of myself.
NAME: Silvana Diaz, publisher and owner, Noticia, in Baldwin
WHAT IT DOES: Provide news and information to Long Island's Spanish-speaking community
EMPLOYEES: 8 full time; 2 part time