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Lorena Lopez and La Prensa Deliver the News
to An Increasingly Diverse Iowa

Story by Mary Gottschalk, photography by David Peterson

Lorena Lopez (above) sets down a tape recorder and opens a small spiral notebook. Across the desk from her Patty Ritchie shares highlights from her recent trip, a visit to Fort Bliss in Texas to see her brother receive a 2012 Bradley Leadership Award for exceptional performance and leadership.

The two women talk about the experience, the conversation drifting between Spanish and English and moving toward a wider discussion of politics.

Latinos must contribute to the political process, stresses Ritchie, an Iraq War veteran and outspoken Latina who’s running for one of two open positions on the Crawford County Board of Supervisors, and not just by voting but also by working on volunteer committees and running for office.

“If you don’t participate,” she says, “you can’t complain about the results.”

Lopez’s interview with Denison Fire Chief Cory Snowgren is more instructional. As Snowgren lays out a map and points to neighborhoods newly included in the community’s upgraded tornado warning system, Lopez asks for the basics.

“What should people in these areas do when they hear the siren?”

“Find shelter immediately.”

Lopez takes detailed notes as Snowgren explains a tornado’s formation and movement. “Sometimes we only have a few seconds’ warning,” he stresses.

A stop at the home of Pedro Rodriguez takes a less serious note. The Denison resident has been collecting Marilyn Monroe memorabilia for nearly four decades, and Lopez darts around his den adjusting the drapes and rearranging the displays as she snaps photos.

With some friendly teasing, she succeeds in persuading Rodriguez to model one of the Marilyn t-shirts.

“There’s no such thing as a typical day at La Prensa,” says Lopez, editor of the free Spanish-language newspaper (in English, The Press) that’s been serving north central Iowa for six years.

(Read more La Voz Neuva)

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