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Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist Helen Ubiñas started "The Ñ Fund" to increase number of Latinas in newsrooms across the country.
Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist Helen Ubiñas started "The Ñ Fund" to increase number of Latinas in newsrooms across the country. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Philly Inquirer Columnist Helen Ubiñas starts fund to increase Latina representation in journalism

‘The Ñ Fund for Latinas in Journalism’ will offer grants through nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.

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Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist Helen Ubiñas took a risk and decided to enter the business of journalism straight out of college in the 1990s, at a time when specifically for Latinas, there were not many, if at all in the industry. She had a vision of wanting to be a reporter, but never imagined herself getting to be a columnist for one of Philly’s main news outlets. 

Despite the lack of numbers for Latinas in the business, Ubiñas went for it and has spent all of her career as the only or one of the few in the newsrooms she’s worked. 

This, combined with the fact she feels that there are so many Latina women capable, and looking for any opportunity to get their foot in the door, is what Ubiñas recently launched the ‘Ñ Fund for Latinas in Journalism.’ The end goal is getting more Latinas in newsrooms across the country by offering grants through nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. 

The Ñ Fund has been guided throughout this process by the Philadelphia Foundation, an organization that works with donors to establish funds that fulfill their philanthropic goals most effectively. 

“And while having Latina reporters in newsrooms is key, I’d argue that having Latina columnists with the editorial freedom to not just tell readers what’s happening but what should be done can be just as vital,” she wrote in her most recent piece for the Inquirer announcing the fund. 

Ubiñas started her career out as a Latina news columnist at the Hartford Courant. Fast forward more than 20 years, she is the only Latina columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In her most recent column, Ubiñas tells her readers to look at rosters at all main newspapers and outlets. What they will find is very few columnists of color, and those who are of color, specifically Latino, likely have the same experiences as her. 

She hoped that by now the business makeup of journalism would have changed, but according to studies, that is not the case.

Ubiñas references a study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office that revealed that despite Latinos making up a fifth of the population and half of the nation’s population growth in the last decade, Latinos are still vastly underrepresented in media, and shows it is even more horrid for Latinas. 

“I’m nowhere near done with journalism or column writing, but I’ve long thought that I’d feel better when the time came to move on if I saw other Latinas stepping onto the kind of privileged platform that I have been lucky enough to have — Instead, I’ve seen opportunities denied and dreams deferred,” she wrote. 

Ubiñas goes on to express how because of her current position, that it does in fact show some progress, but as always the case with Latinos and Latinas in this country, it is not enough and more needs to be done. She is one of few people of color in her position at The Inquirer and that is not adequate considering the growing and large Latino population, as well as the community’s growth in power and wealth in recent years.

Donations can be made to the Ñ Fund through the foundation’s website or with a check made out to: Philadelphia Foundation, Attn: The Ñ Fund for Latinas in Journalism, P.O. Box 826728, Philadelphia, PA 19182-6278, for anyone interested in helping grow the fund as it gets underway officially. 

She hopes the fund will do great things for any future prospective Latina reporters, and journalists as she would have liked more of these sorts of foundations to exist when she was an up and comer. 

“I want that for those who come next,” she wrote.

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