NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE — The rise of the Internet, along with some significant (and not coincidental) old-media belt-tightening, has inspired many a traditional journalist to look for work on the web. But that’s not the story of Hispanic Nashville. John Lamb created the blog in 2003 as a means of highlighting local media coverage of Nashville’s Hispanic community, and has developed the site into a news source in its own right. Neither a displaced nor aspiring journalist, he has no desire to turn the site into a lucrative enterprise and remains the blog’s editor and only consistent contributor. Its audience is growing, but Lamb remains modest. “I want it to be clear that this is a hobby, just like fishing,” he says. “I just go to the web instead of going to the lake.”
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Lamb is enjoying himself, but he’s a hobbyist on a mission. The site’s slogan, “In the south we are all related,” is meant as proof of Lamb’s argument that “you can be Hispanic and be as Nashville as anybody else.” Content such as press releases, profiles of local journalists, or thoughtful “rants” cover anything that relates to the Hispanic community in Nashville or immigration in the South. Lamb’s editorials frequently address the portrayal of immigrants in the media, and he’s also created a sort of twenty-first century version of the editorial cartoon with a series of pro-immigrant ads. (An ad called “Thank you for your work” appeared on Labor Day; Thanksgiving’s went “We’ll always be thankful for your work—except if we go into politics.”)
Though the content never strays from Hispanic news, Lamb says his site is for everybody. He wants it to “introduce the Nashville community to its Hispanic members and make sure that it’s harder to form stereotypes.” Lamb is not Hispanic himself, but has been involved with Nasheville’s Hispanic community since first being introduced to it in high school. After majoring in Spanish in college (where he also worked as the opinion editor of the school newspaper), he moved to Chile (where he met his wife) before returning to the states to attend law school. Hispanic Nashville can trace its roots back to a scrapbook of English-language Hispanic press that Lamb began compiling after his return to the states.
Even though Lamb insists that he’s not a journalist, the reputation that he’s developed via Hispanic Nashville has led to writing opportunities with the alt-weekly Nashville Scene. Although he doesn’t solicit advertisers, he accepts ads from businesses that approach him in order to help cover his costs. (Sometimes he’ll publicize the cause in a post, instead.)
HispanicNashville.com provides a practical product that is gaining momentum as the community it promotes continues to grow. The site has found an audience thanks to diligent posting, focused content, community ties, and easily digestible coverage of policies, events, and individuals. Aspiring hobby-bloggers, journalists, and community organizers can find something useful in this humble but cogent blog. Without the pressure of profit, Lamb has the luxury of operating on his own terms. He sticks to his guns (and puns) and delivers a focused message of appreciation and inclusion.
Principal Staff: John Lamb, editor.
Affiliations: Content sharing with Hola TN and Nashville Scene’s “Pith in the Wind.”