Conecta Arizona began as a cross-border lifeline in the pandemic, a service to combat a sea of dangerous misinformation about Covid spreading on social media in Spanish-speaking communities in Arizona and Sonora. At first it was just a WhatsApp group, connecting people on both sides of the border with information, news, resources, memes, and experts in Spanish. We now have multiple broadcast lists, a Telegram channel, a weekly radio show, a Substack newsletter, a podcast called Cruzando Lineas (Crossing Lines), and social media campaigns. We reach a monthly audience of 150,000.
The heart of Conecta Arizona beats with La Hora del Cafecito, a daily hour of intense conversation on WhatsApp about news, politics, health, immigration, and even entertainment and technology. We talk about everything. We are not afraid of tough issues, we don’t avoid controversy, and we’re not intimidated by disagreement. We have had close to 700 of these coffee hours with more than 160 messages each. That is dialogue.
We are not a traditional media outlet nor do we want to be. We bet on hyperlocal journalism, difficult conversations, feedback, transparency, investing time in listening, verifying data, working in Spanish, and empowering being binational and bicultural. We bet on and for the people. We bet on collaborations and supporting others, having worked with Prensa Arizona, Onda 1190, El Sol de Hermosillo, and more. That has taken us to schools like Stanford University and CUNY. It’s gotten us written about by Nieman Lab, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Poynter, Al Jazeera, and others.
Our method is simple: direct messages, experts on hand, good humor and a genuine commitment to two-way communication. We meet Spanish-speakers in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico where they already are – on their phones and online, as well as through Spanish-language radio. Through social media, radio, podcasts, and our partners in broadcast, digital and print media we reach an audience of over 150,000.
Conecta Arizona is led by Maritza L. Félix, a dynamic journalism pioneer who is part of Phoenix’s Mexican-immigrant community. Early in the pandemic Maritza joined forces with Feet in 2 Worlds, a national nonprofit news organization that trains and supports immigrant journalists. Together they resolved to challenge the tidal wave of misinformation about Covid aimed at Spanish-speakers.