By Camila Bello
Nov. 21, 2023
According to a report made in 2023 by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the proportion of Latinos in the highest ranks of the U.S. journalism sector does not align with the demographic composition of Latinos in the overall U.S. population.
“There is not a lot of support or resources for people like me in media and it makes me feel like I am behind,” said Sofia Mireles. Mireles is a Mexican-American MSU journalism student in her junior year.
“At first, when doing interviews via phone call it was really hard to understand their English over the phone. I didn’t know what they were saying over the phone so when I had to take a message for someone else I would just say whatever. I had to white lie to them” said Alison Hog. Hog was born in Peru and is currently a third-year student at Barnard College majoring in sociology and pursuing a career in journalism.
Hog added “even now sometimes I’m afraid because they are like high-profile people and I’m afraid that they think that we are not taking them seriously because I am the one interviewing them. And obviously, I have an accent and my voice is soft and I look really young, so I am afraid that they don’t take me seriously.”
It can be highlighted from the NAHJ report that there are surprisingly few Latino executive producers at major broadcast networks, including CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and syndicated networks. In cable news, there are very few Latin anchors in stand-alone anchor shows and no executive producers at the major network families of FOX and Warner Bros. Discovery.
Also, there aren’t any Latin executive editors or editors-in-chief among 22 prominent digital news outlets; and there are zero Latin CEOs/presidents and publishers, and just a tiny percentage of Latin executives and managing editors across 22 major print publications.
In a letter for the association, the President of the NAHJ Board of Directors Yvette Cabrera said that the lack of representation of Latinos in the media in the United States is not only a missed financial opportunity but a missed opportunity to strengthen democracy.
“When newsrooms reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, they produce accurate, informed journalism, including stories that would have gone untold without the cultural understanding and knowledge that Latino journalists bring to the table. Good stories have universal appeal; when Latinos are part of the story, and are accurately portrayed, it ensures news organizations don’t lose a growing part of the population to alternative information sources,” Cabrera said.
“I work for NBC New York, so all news are New York related. So when I was talking to the other workers there they said that they usually like to have journalists who grew up here and know the area. They prefer New Yorkers than people from other places,” Hog said.
Despite all challenges, Hog is an Emma Bowen fellow, a news planning intern at NBC 4 New York, and the events editor for Bwog, Columbia’s student news website.
She then added that she believes the reason they hired her with no previous experience in journalism is due to her being fluent in Spanish. She said, “thankfully for me being in New York, there is so much population diversity that sometimes being a native Spanish speaker is a plus. But I know that that is not the reality in most newsrooms.”
After three years of being enrolled at Michigan State University, Mireles said “we are in a school where there is not a lot of support for latinos in media or there is not a lot of resources for people like me that want to do bilingual and immigration reporting. I feel like I don’t get the experience that I need to pursue the career I want.”
She then added that “it is difficult just to always see representation but not for my community. For me, not being able to get involved in organizations that I would like to because there are none, there is no chapter for the NAHJ.”
“Some of the challenges I’ve faced is that I have been told that I sound too hispanic. My news director has told me that I need speech lessons, that he is going to find me a speech therapist,” said Natasha Trindade.
Trindade is a morning news reporter for CBS 4 & NBC 23 in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
“When my Spanish is useful, it is praised; but if my accents comes through, it’s a problem,” Trindade said. “Don’t be afraid as intimidating as it might be,” said Trindade to future latin journalists. She said that even though it can be scary, to don’t hold back by being scared of your ethnicity.