A tidal wave of misinformation about Covid-19 in Spanish is washing over Latinx communities on social media, contributing to the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on Hispanics in terms of illness, deaths and vaccination rates. Early in the pandemic we identified this problem, which most major news outlets and social media companies only recently began to acknowledge. Our response was the creation of Conecta Arizona. We use the same channels where misinformation is shared – WhatsApp, Telegram, Twitter, and Facebook – to provide a daily stream of accurate, factual and highly engaging information about Covid-19 and a wide range of related topics. We work with partners in Spanish-language print, broadcast, and online media on both sides of the U.S.- Mexico border to bust myths about Covid-19 and share news, advice and resources.Conecta Arizona has quickly become a vital and trusted source of information. It has also fostered a growing and highly engaged community that participates in conversations with experts on a broad range of issues.
Conecta Arizona is a place where people feel comfortable asking about paying their income taxes, mental health, educating their kids, and immigration. Members of our SMS groups share information with friends, family, and co-workers and post questions during a daily Q&A– La Hora del Cafecito. Once a week we have a special guest during the Q&A: an immigration lawyer, an accountant, a psychologist, a state legislator, the Mexican consul, a U.S. ambassador, an activist, or a marketing specialist; experts who answer our questions one by one without charging for their services or advice. We are making news coverage more inclusive and reflective of the rapidly changing demographics of Arizona and the interconnected nature of the border region. For Spanish-speakers who are hungry for reliable information and personal connections during the pandemic, Conecta Arizona is a lifeline.
We started as a WhatsApp group, and now have our own weekly radio show on Phoenix’s La Onda AM and FM, a weekly column in Prensa Arizona, the state’s largest Spanish-language newspaper, and frequent appearances in Mexican media that reaches audiences in the U.S. We recently launched a Substack newsletter. Journalists in other parts of the country with large Latinx populations have reached out to us asking for help to start their own “Conectas.”