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Florida Matters: Ethnic Newspapers In Tampa Bay

USF St. Petersburg/Stephanie Colombini

One of the area's leading African American family-owned newspapers, The Weekly Challenger in St. Petersburg, just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Tampa's preeminent Hispanic newspaper, La Gaceta, is approaching 100 years. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the history and cultural impact of ethnic publications in the Tampa Bay area.

Since 1967, The Weekly Challenger has been a source for news and information for the African American communities of Tampa Bay. The paper was founded by Cleveland Johnson, Jr. His wife Ethel Johnson took over after his death in 2001. She passed it down to their daughter Lyn in 2012.

La Gaceta is a weekly newspaper in Tampa founded by Victoriano Manteiga in 1922. Published in English, Spanish and Italian, it's the only trilingual newspaper in the United States. Victoriano Manteiga passed the publication down to his son Roland after his death in 1982. Roland's son Patrick Manteiga inherited ownership in 1998.

We'll learn more about how these newspapers got their start this week on Florida Matters. We'll hear about how the evolving state of race relations in the Tampa Bay area over the past several decades has played a role in the content and popularity of minority publications. We'll also discuss how these newspapers plan to stay afloat in an increasingly digital society.

Our guests include:

Follow the links above to view these newspapers' most recent stories. And step back in time and read old editions of the publications by checking out these links to archives:

  • The Weekly Challenger's digital archives at USF St. Petersburg's Nelson Poynter Memorial Library
  • La Gaceta's digital archives at the University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries
  • Old editions of La Gaceta as well as photographs and letters to its founders, part of USF Tampa Libraries' Digital Collections

The digital archiving projects are ongoing, so if you have any old copies of these newspapers you would like to contribute, reach out to either the publication or library and learn more about how you can help preserve history. 
Share your thoughts on the show and any memories reading these newspapers with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Carson Cooper has become a favorite of WUSF listeners as the host of "Morning Edition" on WUSF 89.7 since he took the job in 2000. Carson has worked in Tampa Bay radio for three decades.