He says upon arrival he found "civil war" within the newsroom and a substandard staff. "It was incestuous," says Castañeda. "[There were] very poor habits of doing things." He brought in new reporters, kept the door to his office open, and actively began to dumb down the paper.
Despite setbacks El Diario publisher Oswaldo Muñoz sees a need for another Spanish-language paper
"There are a lot of people angry with El Nuevo; that doesn't mean there is a market for another newspaper in Spanish," says FIU's Mario Diament. The newspaperman turned academic's views seem to be bearing fruit when it comes to El Diario. Part of the budding newspaper's problem is distribution. Miami-Dade's Hispanics are spread out all over the county. Simply reaching them with the product is a difficult task. The new paper has had trouble keeping executives and paying its staff. It's unclear how much longer it can last.
On the other hand, this month Castañeda will celebrate two years as El Nuevo's guiding voice. Although he had planned to step down, at Ibargüen and the staff's urging he has agreed to one more year. Under the arrangement Castañeda, who already spends a lot of time out of the office, will work only nine months of the year. "It gives an opportunity for the staff to solve problems themselves," he says.
But the success of Castañeda's model could be bad news for those who admire the best of Latin-American journalism. Excellence can still be found in the bravery of Colombian reporters, the rich editorial pages of Mexico's La Reforma, the scrappy investigations of Argentina's Pagina/12, and the comprehensive coverage of Brazil's Jornal do Brasil.
None of those newspapers distinguished themselves by striving solely for the bottom line.