It is interesting to watch Caucasian men and women report on a story about children in the ghettos or drug wars on the Mexican border. They seem out of place and disconnected to the plights they are reporting on. Would it register with audiences more to see Latino journalists walking the deserts paths of drug runners or African American newscasters investigating education in poor neighborhoods? Or is that considered stereotypical? After all, several ethnicities could be affected by any story.
Historical segregation and racial prejudice has undoubtedly played a part in hindering minorities in social and professional environments. Just as minorities are gaining ground in the political arena, the same battle is being fought in journalism.
On the Daily Grito, Rubon Soto counted down 10 news reporters and anchors in American journalism. They are all in highly populated Hispanic cities such as L.A., San Antonio, Miami, New York and Chicago.
George de Lama, associate managing editor for foreign and national news at the Chicago Tribune, notes in his article “There’s a Need at the Top for Latino Journalists” that there is a significant need for minority reporters that has not been filled. He was the second Latino to work at his paper and explains how his predecessor and mentor was promoted to editor.
“The need is visible across the country; the rise of Latino influence on American politics, popular culture and society is exploding onto the nation’s consciousness before most news organizations are ready to handle it. Today no serious newspaper can pretend to serve its community without sophisticated reporting about Hispanic affairs.”
There are opportunities in small community news and large organizations to push racial and ethnic borders. There are talk shows, magazines and newspapers all to support the growing number of immigrants in the U.S. NewsTaco is a blog led by four journalists that deliver information from Latino points of view. Fox News also has a site dedicated completely to stories centered on Hispanic interests.
Now that doors have been opened, the problem becomes education for minority children. They often are born into homes with parents who speak little English and work minimum wage jobs. It is a constantly struggle financially and socially as the kids are required to adapt to a culture much different from their own heritage. Competition for college acceptances, internships and entry-level positions may only heap more stress and insecurity onto an individual struggling to overcome discrimination.
However, enduring and succeeding these obstacles molds a stronger character, which then produces better journalists. The tougher and more stubborn resolve, the harder a news reporter digs to uncover the truth of a critical story.
Lama offers a snippet of advice when it comes to young Hispanics waiting to burst into a career field.
“For young Latino journalists today, whatever your choice, learn from the experience of others, then make your mark by breaking your own new ground. Whichever way you go, whatever you decide to pursue, remember that fresh approaches to stories and new insights in reporting and writing are at the heart of excellent journalism, the kind that best serves our readers—and that provides the greatest possible career opportunities.”