CLA Welcomes Veteran Journalist and Lecturer to Tenure Track This Fall

October 26, 2020

""A veteran journalist with more than 1,000 published articles and op-eds, Teresa Puente has spent nearly 20 years covering topics related to immigration and the Latinx community. Her expertise in bilingual journalism and social media caught the attention of the journalism and public relations department in 2016, where she was hired as a full-time lecturer. After four years in the position, she was awarded the title of assistant professor and will enter the tenure track in the fall. 

A passionate supporter of quality journalism, she credits an excellent faculty and diverse student body for her enthusiasm for teaching at CSULB.

“I just fell in love with the campus and the students,” Puente says. “I get the opportunity to work with our Latinx students and to train the next generation of journalists. I really believe in our students, and I believe in our mission.”

A leading expert in Latinx issues, Puente is channeling that knowledge and experience into bilingual journalism education and Latinx news media discourse studies. Dr. Jennifer Fleming, chair of the journalism and public relations department at CSULB, says Puente is an exceptional colleague and journalist and is thrilled to welcome her on the tenure track. 

“She is an innovative and trendsetting educator,” Fleming says. “She has pushed our curriculum in new and exciting directions in social media and bilingual journalism instruction since she first joined the department as a lecturer in 2016.”

Before joining the faculty at CSULB, Puente was an associate professor at Columbia College Chicago, where she created the Social Media Storytelling course now offered at CSULB. A popular class for journalism majors, the course teaches students how to use social media as a journalistic tool to create original stories, break news and publish real-time updates. 

Puente, who holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish and a master’s of fine arts in creative writing, is the first teacher of bilingual journalism at CSULB. Her Bilingual Magazine Reporting and Production course gives students the opportunity to report on an array of issues facing underrepresented communities. Under her guidance, students have created award-winning videos, podcasts and articles covering topics such as immigration, education and politics.

In 2019, Puente and her bilingual journalism students launched the first Spanish-language news magazine in Long Beach: Díg en Español. This groundbreaking publication has been a goal of Puente’s since she first came to CSULB.

“Bringing more enterprise reporting from diverse communities is one of the main reasons I came here,” she explains. “Díg en Español is part of the growth of Spanish-language bilingual journalism in the U.S. today. This summer we’re launching our own website with even more content.”

A Chicago native, Puente worked extensively as a staff reporter and writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, two of the city’s largest publications. A proponent of underrepresented voices in the mainstream media, she was one of the first journalists to write extensively about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in early 2001. She continues to work as a freelance journalist, with recent articles and commentary in numerous publications, including Time, The Guardian, and Vice.

“For a while I’ve focused on U.S. media coverage of the Latinx experience and how Latinx people are portrayed in the media,” Puente says.My focus now on the tenure track will be mainly academic, as I’ve been invited to submit a book proposal in bilingual journalism.”

In 2000, Puente won the Studs Terkel Community Media Award, which recognizes journalists who are telling stories about communities that are often overlooked by the mainstream media. Receiving the award was one of the greatest moments in her life, she says.

In addition to teaching and freelance writing, Puente is a facilitator and editor with the OpEd Project, a non-profit venture dedicated to increasing diversity in the media through thought leadership. Always advocating for underrepresented voices, her work includes leading public seminars and public voice fellowships at universities and with nonprofit leaders. She also mentors scholars and nonprofit leaders to help them publish in local and national media outlets.

Profile story by Kevin Bollman