Opinion

Keep reading this newspaper as it enters its 30th year of existence

Francisco Ibarra Aguilar became a U.S. citizen at the age of 88. Naturalization ceremonies have been a staple of Vida en el Valle.
Francisco Ibarra Aguilar became a U.S. citizen at the age of 88. Naturalization ceremonies have been a staple of Vida en el Valle. jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

Do you remember what you were doing in 1990?

If you weren’t watching the first episodes of ‘The Simpsons,’ filling your gas tank up for $1.34 a gallon, or listening to Ana Gabriel’s empowering hit ‘Es Demasiado Tarde’ (It’s Way Too Late), you were probably picking up the first editions of Vida en el Valle.

That was also the year the stock market reached a record high 2,633, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down, and a proposal for the world wide web was introduced in Switzerland.

And our staff wrote about Latino families concerned about their sons and daughters going to war in Kuwait as part of Desert Shield, a Madera High graduate who earned a scholarship from the California Table Grape Commission to attend medical school (he’s now a doctor in Fresno), and the rush by thousands to gain citizenship under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

What began as a 30,000 bilingual newspaper distributed in Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Madera counties eventually grew to become a four-edition publication serving the Fresno, Merced, Modesto and Stockton markets. (Three years ago, a Sacramento edition ended).

Film cameras gave way to digital versions.

Fax machines became obsolete in favor of e-mails or text messages.

Readers don’t have to wait until Wednesday (or Thursday) to read the latest news; we use our website – www.vidaenelvalle.com – to put important stories up as soon as possible.

The times keep changing, especially in the newspaper industry.

There’s a big likelihood that in another decade, our product will be viewed only online. That would mean that the paper version will have gone the way of Sony Walkmans, cassette tapes and good-mannered presidents.

However, we will still continue to look for those stories that too often get overlooked by other media.

That is why reporter María G. Ortiz-Briones spent hours last Wednesday and Thursday chasing down information on how to purchase a Barbie Día de los Muertos doll.

That’s why I surveyed Facebook friends in preparation for a 20-minute phone interview with director Gregory Nava to talk about the re-issue of the classic 1984 American movie ‘El Norte.’ (Make sure you go see the movie this Sunday, Sept. 15!!!).

Through the years, Vida en el Valle has covered concerts by Juan Gabriel, Vicente Fernández, Gloria Trevi and Pepe Aguilar. It interviewed a newcomer named Enrique Iglesias before he released his first album in 1995.

Remember when more than 30,000 fans almost filled Bulldog Stadium to capacity for a pre-World Cup 1994 match between the Mexican and Swedish national teams? Vida en el Valle was there.

You might have read stories about soccer star Danny Trejo, who scored a state record 200 goals at Mendota High; the McFarland High boys cross country team winning nine state championships; Andra Durán starring on the softball field at Selma High before going on to success at UCLA and the U.S. Olympic teams; or Avenal native José Ramírez unifying the WBC and WBO super lightweight boxing titles.

We’ve interviewed Eva Longoria before ‘Desperate Housewives’ was a hit; Ricky Martin before his 2007 performance at the Save Mart Center; and, Danny Trejo (the actor, not the soccer phenom) at a lowrider car show in Bakersfield.

Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and, Fabián Núñez have given us one-on-one interviews.

We were at farmworker leader César E. Chávez’s 1993 funeral in Delano; and reported on the Fresno City Council’s decision to name a street honoring the UFW leader, only to change it mind two months later.

There have been many highs: Fresno State’s Latino graduation ceremonies filling the Save Mart Center to capacity; José Hernández fulfilling his dream to become an astronaut in 2009; and, the late José Elgorriaga and his Fresno State men’s soccer team setting NCAA attendance records.

But, there have been lows as well: Teen pregnancy rates in the Valley that are among the highest in the nation; Propositions 187 and 209 that targeted immigrant and ethnic communities; and, the 1996 crash that killed 13 farmworkers in western Fresno County.

Vida en el Valle has reported on hundreds of stories about Latino successes throughout the San Joaquín Valley. Often, our reporters have been the only ones constantly showing up at high school graduations, police academy graduations, and, naturalization ceremonies.

We do it because our mission has always been to cover stories of interest to the Latino community.

We want to continue doing this in the future. The only thing that will change is how you read those reports.

Thank you for reading our stories the past 29 years.

Juan Esparza Loera has been editor of Vida en el Valle since it first published in August 1990. Send comments, suggestions or questions to: jesparza@vidaenelvalle.com

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