Gets Real: Seattle journalist ‘keeps the news alive’ for Spanish speakers across region

For 17 years, journalist Jaime Mendez has been bringing Seattle the news in Spanish as a news anchor for Univision.

But in December, his television career ground to a halt.

“I learned that the Univision Seattle station was going to be ending its Spanish programming at the end of the year,” recalls Mendez. “I have to be honest; I was surprised.”

It left Mendez without a job, and our area without a consistent, local Spanish news source.

That was a loss that many didn’t realize the true scale of, says Mendez.

“Latinos, from the moment we come here, we are already vulnerable to many things,” says Mendez. “And not having proper information about what’s going on in the area and place you live, it makes you even more vulnerable.”

With more than a million Hispanics and Latinos in the state, according to the most recent census, Mendez knew he couldn’t sit back.

So he created Se Habla Media, (Se Habla Media – Periodismo independiente en Seattle) using his savings and skillset to launch an independent news station.

“I came home and I told my wife, and we started laughing,” says Mendez. “And then we were like, ‘oh, wow, now what’re we going to do?’”

Mendez, with his wife Diana Oliveros, spent three months turning their spare bedroom into a broadcast center.

On Jan. 1, they launched, producing a website, a podcast, and a daily newscast streamed online.

“There were times that I couldn’t sleep very well thinking, ‘Aae we going to be able to put out a decent, good job?’ That was my biggest stress,” remembers Mendez. “The first day, I was so happy with it. I was like ‘This is gonna work’.”

Mendez calls his new job difficult, but necessary, saying he has no plans of signing off.

“I came up with the slogan at the end of the broadcast after one week of doing this thing because I was answering to people and said, ‘yeah, we can we can’t let the news die’,’” said Mendez. “So I finish every newscast saying ‘Mantén vivas las noticias’ Keep the news alive.