New Yorker Spreads Latino News For The Northeast, One E-Mail At a Time

By Eduardo A. de Oliveira,
Michael Fondacaro and his wife, over Noticias y Notas

Michael Fondacaro and his wife, over Noticias y Notas. (Photo: Courtesy Fondacaro/

There’s no question: Web sites and blogs are a part of American life for sharing information.

For Latinos in New England and New York, Michael Fondacaro is bringing news-sharing to another level. The former National Public Radio reporter in Albany, NY, compiles news about their communities, which he distributes weekly by e-mail.

The idea started in 2000 as a directory about Latino groups for New York state Senator Olga A. Mendez. Back then, Fondacaro worked in communications for Democrats in the New York Senate. Around the same time, he also was e-mailing 200 friends electronic links to stories about Latinos communities in cities like Pittsfield, Mass., and Hartford, Conn.

Soon enough, he thought, why not check out Vermont and its Latino festival?

In July of 2004, Noticias y Notas (“News and Notes”) was born, which now reaches 1,150 community leaders and ethnic journalists all over New York and New England, according to Fondacaro.

He classifies his 15-hour-a-week job as a “labor of love.”

“Your weekly e-mail is the CNN of Latinos in this part of the country. Thank you for what you do, you have no idea [of] the good that you bring to people,” said Julio Sáenz, one of Noticias recipients and a general manager of the Orange County Excelsior, the fifth-largest Spanish-language newspaper in the country, with a circulation of 180,000.

Fondacaro, a descendant of Italians and Lithuanians, is flattered.

He has never been to Latin America and his link to the Latino community has no genetic ties. His parents grew up in Amsterdam, NY, located 30 miles west of capital city Albany, which is 20-percent Latino.

Noticias y Notas functions as a very basic but popular newsletter. The story links come in Microsoft Word format, cataloged by state.

The top-three story themes? “Immigration, immigration, and immigration,” Fondacaro says.

But something excites Fondacaro more than just spreading the news.

“What I’m heartened by is seeing more Latinos running for office,” he said.

It was only in 2006 that Pete Lopez was the first Latino elected to serve at the New York State Assembly, the lower house of the state’s legislative branch. Lopez represents a district of Albany where only 2 percent of the population is Latino.

Now Fondacaro, who also works at the office of Civil Rights for New York’s Department of Transportation, is thinking about reaching out to communities with ties to Cape Verde, East Timor, and Mozambique.

When he’s not compiling Noticias y Notas or working at Transportation, Fondacaro is involved in another line of work. The job requires him to read The Economist magazine out loud while recording his voice over the phone on an answering machine.

On the other side of that answering machine is Gov. David Peterson of New York, who is blind — but not uninformed.

* To receive Noticias y Notas, e-mail Michael Fondacaro at mezzofondo1 {at} yahoo {dot} com.