Robert Downs


Robert Downs ( is a freelance reporter and photographer who works in both radio and print. His work has appeared in Global Post, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Miami Herald, Detroit Free Press, and several others. He's the former managing editor of the Minnesota Daily, the award-winning newspaper at the University of Minnesota. Robert speaks Spanish and French, and as of September 2012 will live in Madrid, where he will freelance and pursue a master's degree at La Universidad de Alcalá. His website is


Bucking the trend, 2 newsrooms invest in Spanish-language training

In 2009, The Dallas Morning News cut its budget — again. After laying off hundreds of employees companywide, A.H. Belo Corporation, the paper’s parent organization, reached “for the stuff that could be turned off,” said Managing Editor George Rodrigue.

An easy choice: the hour-and-a-half-long Spanish class the News held in the newsroom every Tuesday. But as it turned out, cutting it wasn’t so easy. A group of devoted language learners in the newsroom decided that they’d each pay $45 per month out of their own pockets to keep the private instructor coming. In early 2011, A.H. Belo began picking up the tab again.

In the newsrooms of large, Spanish-speaking markets, language classes used to be fairly common. Now they’re all but extinct. The Miami Herald used to offer three classes a week, then just one a week, until it cut its program last year. Read more