Communication Professors Lead Hispanic Media Initiative

Katie Coronado and Erica Rodriguez Kight

Katie Coronado and Erica Rodriguez Kight

The University of Central Florida is one of the few universities in the country to offer undergraduate courses in Hispanic/Latino media and Spanish-language TV news. The faculty and staff at the Nicholson School of Communication have worked for a long time to make this a reality, with Instructor Katie Coronado at its forefront.

Coronado attended UCF for her bachelor’s degree and then Rollins for her master’s. After graduating, she went straight into the news industry. She worked in English and Spanish-language news for 13 years before she started teaching as an instructor at the Nicholson School in 2012.

Coronado has an extensive background in Spanish-language media, which she thinks is one of the reasons she was hired. When the school’s administration asked for her opinion on creating classes for Hispanic/Latino students, she took the initiative to move forward and make her own, and Knightly Latino was born.

Knightly Latino began as a weekly webcast that was all volunteer-based. That grew into a practicum, and then into the class that it has now been for two semesters.

“[The webcast] was a daily commitment where students produced work in Spanish,” Coronado said. “They were doing it just because they wanted to.”

The class is the first of its kind offered at UCF as well one of few in the U.S. that focuses on television broadcasts delivered in Spanish.

Coronado also teaches a new class this semester called Hispanics in Media in the U.S., which falls under the new Hispanic Media Initiative.

The initiative is led by Coronado and Erica Rodriguez Kight, Ph.D. The two educators are currently working together on a textbook for the Hispanics in Media in U.S. class. There are also other classes in development that will be a part of the initiative.

The professors are actively working to develop a Hispanic/Latino Media certificate. It includes collaboration with the Latin American Studies program and the Modern Languages program at UCF.

Coronado described the Hispanic Media Initiative’s motivation as helping to provide an outlet for students who want to learn about Hispanic/Latino culture and the language in media and how to apply it.

“The idea is that we are trying to create an umbrella or a hub for students who want to deliver news in Spanish,” Coronado said. “It can help put UCF on the map both nationally and internationally.”

The Hispanic Media Initiative covers the classes related to Hispanic/Latino media that are being taught, those in development and the new certificate. It’s helped foster UCF’s ties with partners abroad in Spanish-speaking countries and between departments internally. Coronado said it has also helped students get jobs with outside news organizations looking for Spanish-speaking reporters.

The two communication professors are also hard at work collaborating with universities abroad, including Spain and Cuba, to develop international opportunities for students.

Kight, who holds a doctoral degree in mass communication, was hired as a lecturer of Hispanic/Latino media. She works with Coronado to teach some of the classes that support the Hispanic Media Initiative. They take turns teaching the Knightly Latino course.

Kight, a Cuban-American from Miami, is currently working on developing an online course about diversity in the media.

“I’m very happy to be here to support this program,” Kight said. “[UCF] is paving the way when it comes to serving the undergraduate student population that is interested in Hispanic media.”

She stresses that the classes aren’t just about producing content in Spanish, but are also about analyzing the delivery of Spanish news and the effects on its audience.

Coronado’s heritage is Cuban and Ecuadorean. Even though she grew up in New York, she identifies closely with her roots, having traveled to Ecuador and trying to raise her two children in both her American and Latin culture. Her 6-year-old son is in the dual language program at his school.

“I’m using what I know as a teacher to teach them to speak Spanish at home,” Coronado said. “I do what I can to make sure they grow up knowing Spanish.”

Because of these two innovative women, UCF is able to offer a wide curriculum to Spanish-speaking students interested in news. Coronado, however, intends to stay available for the non-Spanish speaking students who want to take her classes as well.

Along with Knightly Latino, Coronado and Kight teach Knightly News, as well as electronic journalism classes, announcing and performance, news reporting, mass media, telecom regulations, and more.

“I love teaching English news classes and I love teaching Spanish news classes,” Coronado said. “As my students grow in my classes, they inspire me to grow professionally.”

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