Hypocritical Editorial Policies

Henry Fernandez on how The New Haven Register advocates for immigrant rights in its Spanish-language paper and against them in its English-language paper.

This article was originally published in The New Haven Register.

New Haven Register
editor’s note: The New Haven Register and Registro, although both owned by the Journal Register Co., are separate publications with autonomous editorial policies.

The New Haven Register has two editorial policies, one for consumption in its English-language version and one for consumption in Registro, its Spanish-language version. The Register consistently editorializes against undocumented immigrants, while Registro consistently editorializes for the rights of undocumented immigrants.

Frankly, I have simply had enough of this hypocrisy.

These two papers are published by the same company, Journal Register Co., in the same building, often using the same reporters, and always using the same printing press. So, why the different editorial policies?

Apparently, just to sell newspapers and advertising. Registro is free and makes its money selling advertising; The Register, like other traditional newspapers, pays its bills through advertising, subscriptions and sales.

Recently, the entire front page of Registro was dedicated to Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s veto of the in-state tuition bill for illegal immigrants, with cover art that made her look heartless. Registro‘s editorial described how Rell had dashed the dreams of hundreds of young people who graduated this year from Connecticut high schools in neighborhoods where they have lived most of their lives.

In Spanish, the editorial also stated that Connecticut’s future economy relies on the success of these young people. Not so The Register, which heralded Rell’s veto. "The legislation would encourage more illegal immigrants to break the law by living here," intoned its editorial.

Aside from being cold-hearted and inaccurate, The Register‘s editorial reflects the two-faced approach that the company has to the Latino community. Two years ago, The Register started the excellently written Registro, which exists today only because of the growing undocumented population in our communities. The Spanish-language paper  is only available in parts of Connecticut with a large undocumented population.

Spanish-speaking Connecticut citizens of Puerto Rican descent have been here as a relatively consistent percentage of the population for a couple of decades now and as a large community for almost a century. Despite this long history of Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens by birth, the Register only chose to publish a Spanish-language paper when Connecticut’s Spanish-speaking population grew dramatically over the last 10 years as a result of immigration from Mexico, Ecuador and other countries in Central America. A significant portion of this immigration is of undocumented workers and their families.

There is no doubt why Registro has very little coverage about politics in Puerto Rico, but regularly does a good job covering the politics in Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador. There is little to no coverage of soccer beyond local high schools in The Register, but Registro regularly covers its entire back page with the world’s best soccer players. The other place you would be hard-pressed to find soccer is among the U.S. citizen population of Puerto Rico, where baseball is the passion.

The newspaper knows who its readers are and provides them with the coverage that will keep them coming back. Apparently, this has been successful. While cutting back on reporters and other costs at The Register, at Registro the reporter pool is expanding alongside new editions of the paper. Registro is now published twice a week rather than weekly, and boasts a Hartford edition in a city where no one even reads The Register, and a Danbury-Waterbury edition in coordination with the Torrington-based Register-Citizen, which is owned by the  parent company of the New Haven Register and Registro.

While The Register piles on against undocumented immigrants in English, it makes money off that same population it says it wants to evict from our communities. It’s one thing for the owners of The Register and Registro to market their two newspapers to two different audiences by reporting stories that are of interest to their customers; it is quite another to shape editorial policy to appeal to nativist instincts and xenophobia while building a business based on the progressive acceptance of immigrants.

Henry Fernandez is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress focused on state and municipal policy.

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Henry Fernandez

Senior Fellow