With a battle cry of "Bring it on!" Monica Lozano stands squarely at the center of a Spanish-language newspaper "war" that is being closely watched around the country.
Ms. Lozano, CEO and publisher of La Opinion, has successfully overseen day-to-day management of the newspaper, growing the publication's readership, entering into radio and television partnerships, and boosting its staff, reach and influence. Early this year, she stepped onto an even broader stage by launching a coast-to-coast venture with national implications, and she faces new competition on her home turf in Los Angeles where the family-owned La Opinion has reigned for seven decades.
Ms. Lozano's expanded roles and influence come after La Opinion severed its ties with The Tribune Co., publisher of the LA Times, in January and joined forces with New York's El Diario/La Prensa to form the first national Spanish-language newspaper group, Impremedia LLC. Ms. Lozano stepped into her current role, and was named senior vice president for Impremedia, which plans to expand across the country. Days later, The Tribune Co. announced plans to bring its own Spanish-language daily, Hoy, to Los Angeles, and launched it in March.
Ms. Lozano has approached the new challenges with the same passion that has fueled her already impressive career. "Today we tell the Tribune Company to 'Bring it on!'" Ms. Lozano said in a press conference on the day Hoy first published in Los Angeles. "We have no intention of ceding our preferred status with our readers or advertisers to anyone. Anyone can write the news in Spanish. What has always differentiated La Opinion is the depth of our news coverage, our roots in the community and our journalistic integrity."
It is this commitment that has helped drive Ms. Lozano's career. "The most important thing is the passion that I have for what I do," she says. "I absolutely love the work that I'm involved in. I'm personally 1,000-percent committed to it. Because of that, it allows me to be focused, determined, committed, and to want to expend the energy that I spend on my work and other activities."
Ms. Lozano's roles with the family newspaper began after she studied political science and sociology at the University of Oregon and worked at community newspapers in San Francisco and Oregon. Now, she has worked at the company founded in 1926 by her grandfather, Ignacio Lozano, for just shy of two decades, as executive editor, associate publisher, and president in 2000. She has led the paper with her brother, Jose Ignacio Lozano, who preceded her in her current title, and now serves as vice chairman of Impremedia.
"I think I was very fortunate that the opportunity was available to me; clearly something like this is available to only a handful of people," she says. "But the fact that I've taken such advantage of it speaks more to me as an individual than the fact that it's just there."
Under the Lozanos' direction, La Opinion's average circulation has grown from 60,000 to nearly 126,000 daily, its editorial staff has doubled to more than 400, and its distribution covers the five-county Southern California area. It also operates La Opinion Digital on the Internet, has opened bureaus in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., has boosted print quality, and has launched several new sections including the weekly Negocios for Latino entrepreneurs, the weekly soccer magazine Golazo!, and La Vibra, a weekly magazine for Latinos 18 to 34.
"La Opinion," says actor, producer and community activist Edward James Olmos, "is at the forefront of understanding our community."
Ms. Lozano is widely credited with being a driving force behind that understanding and the newspaper's community advocacy and support. The publication has been named "Best Hispanic Daily Newspaper" by the National Association of Hispanic Publications three consecutive years, regularly sponsors Hispanic cultural heritage events, and has launched statewide public information campaigns on topics including education and healthcare. In February, Ms. Lozano received a humanitarian award from The Salvadoran Committee El Piche, which helps poor communities in El Salvador and Los Angeles, for her leadership in the Hispanic community and work in promoting health care, education and culture.
"Twenty years ago, I joined and, at that time, we were less involved in the local community," she says. "I felt we had an important role to play, not just with information, but as a paper being a real partner to the community and understanding the ways to use the paper to empower. We're a solid business financially and economically, but at the core we have a commitment to improve the quality of life for Latinos in the U.S.," she says. "It's a determination to stand up for what's right with integrity and ethics. A commitment to the core democratic values, and not waivering in that even when under a lot of pressure."
Ms. Lozano says that perhaps the most important role model behind her determination is her father. "He inherited a paper from his father, who had a real sense of mission for the newspaper. You go back and see the early editions were about defending the community, standing up for injustices. My dad made sure that the paper carried on that legacy, and during a really difficult period of time when there were lots of pressures externally."
That same determination and passion also fuels Ms. Lozano's energy in community service arenas, even as she balances a newspaper career that sees her in the office most days before 8 a.m. and a family life that includes two teenagers. She currently serves on corporate boards that include Walt Disney Co., Tenet Healthcare, and Union Bank of California; as well as other boards including the National Council of La Raza and the California HealthCare Foundation. She serves on the University of California Board of Regents, and has served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Southern California since 1991. And she has served on the boards of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, the state legislature's joint advisory committee on vocational education, the LA Annenberg Metropolitan Project, and the California Citizens Commission for Higher Education.
Now, with the new Impremedia, the Lozanos are seeking to expand the influence of Spanish-language newspapers, creating a national group of publications that covers community issues nationally, regionally and locally. "The opportunities this new company presents for La Opinion and its readers allow us to lead on a national level," Ms. Lozano says. "We are going to be able to offer advertisers national reach utilizing new platforms and dynamic promotional programs, and we will continue to be our readers' most authoritative source of news and opinion."
The new venture will take much of the determination and passion that Ms. Lozano has developed. And it will take more as well. "You have to work very hard," she says of her successes. "Clearly passion is important, but it is a lot of hard work."
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