As one walks down the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District, spanish conversations can be heard all around. The district is home to a large hispanic community. Mexican restaurants are found on most blocks and the scent of fresh Hispanic pastries fill the air.
To the residents of The Mission District, community plays a big role in their daily lives. Nestled between a record shop and a bakery in of the mission lies Accion Latina. It is the headquarters for the local newspaper, El Tecolote, a local non-profit newspaper. El Tecolote acts as the voice for those who live there. In a sense, Accion Latina creates the opportunity for this community to be heard. Hanging near the entrance to Accion Latine are paintings depicting artistic criticism to topics like the Dakota Access Pipeline and President Donald Trump.
Editor-in-chief Alexis Terrazas works toward the back of the building. Along with two reporters, he discussed the stories to be covered in the next issue of El Tecolote in the newspaper’s office. Behind him, owl statues adorn the windowsills of his office. “Tecolote is the indigenous term in Spanish for owl,” Terrazas said.
El Tecolote was started in 1970, after Juan Gonzales, an Ethnic Studies professor at San Francisco State University noticed that minority groups were not being represented in the media. Gonzales created El Tecolote as a final assignment for his classes and on Aug. 24, 1970 the first newspaper was published. Since then, El Tecolote has stood as the newspaper whose mission is to report on stories about minority groups that aren’t traditionally covered in other papers.
“I like some of the graphics, I like some of the stories.” says Hugo Nahuel, a resident of San Francisco since 1975.
“On the surface, it’s a community newspaper, bilingual, still trying to tell the story, but really it’s a community institution,” Terrazas said, “It’s also a community resource. We don’t pretend to be objective, so to speak, we certainly have a point of view.”
El Tecolote prides itself as a progressive newspaper. It sees itself as a newspaper that wants to advocate for the human rights of all people.
El Tecolote has always run as a nonprofit, relying on volunteer work from the members of its community. Tecolote volunteer Johnny Garcia delivers all 10,000 papers to businesses across the mission armed with only his truck and trolley. Terrazas claimed that he also had Sirron Norris, artist for the Fox television show Bob’s Burgers, reach out to him asking to print Norris’ comics
in El Tecolote.
Terrazas’ goal is to have El Tecolote become the voice for the community.
“Our focus, obviously, is still Latinos, covering issues that are important to Latinos,” Terrazas said, “but I want to be as inclusive as I can, covering other communities of color.”
El Tecolote can be found in the many stores and restaurants around The Mission District.