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Study Underscores Newspapers’ Preference for Anglo Columnists Over Latinos

LatinaLista — Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off this week and people will celebrate how far Latinos have come, the strides that have been made, the progress, etc.
But when it comes to the issue of equality, it is an area where we keep running around the same track and just can’t seem to get ahead.

Finally, there’s documentation at just how unequal the game is for Latinos, and it’s not because we don’t want to play. Rather, it’s because we’re not getting picked.

There’s no clearer picture of this inequality than when it comes to syndicated columnists in print newspapers.
Today, Media Matters released an interesting study called Black and White and Re(a)d All Over: The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-ed Columns.

Basically, the study said that today’s newspapers overwhelmingly use conservative columnists.
No surprise there, but what was disappointing to see was that from the long drop-down list of syndicated columnists only 10 were Latino/a. Of those 10 only 2 — Ruben Navarrette and Kathryn Jean Lopez appeared in over 100 newspapers respectively.
The others ranged from being in as little as 4 newspapers to 28.
Why does this matter? Well, like the report says:

Syndicated newspaper columnists have a unique ability to influence public opinion and the national debate. And whether examining only the top columnists or the entire group, large papers or small, the data presented in this report make clear that conservative syndicated columnists enjoy a clear advantage over their progressive counterparts.

In fact among the most successful Latino columnists (in that they appear in more newspapers than the rest), all 3 of them are conservative, and what’s interesting to note – the only conservatives of the bunch.
The rest are a mix of progressives and centrists. The only other columnist that comes close to the top 3 is Maria Elena Salinas. Her column is picked up by 27 newspapers and is labeled as a centrist.
What this study shows is that newspapers, even those that publish mainly progressive columnists, aren’t giving voice to the Latino perspective.
And if this is the case, it’s no wonder that the anti-Hispanic, undocumented immigrant rhetoric is as rampant as it is across this country.
Without showcasing a balance of opinion, how can newspapers claim to play a role in keeping our democracy alive when they’re practicing the most fundamental breach of that trust?

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  • Daniel Maldonado
    September 12, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    So long as “Latinos” are struggling for inclusion there is little incentive for the mainstream media outlets to include Latinos.
    If Latinos adopted a national consciousness similar to the Quebecois in Quebec then you’d see the mainstream moguls tripping over themselves vying for “news with views” from a Latino perspective.
    Suppose they did up the Latino count from 1% to 5%. What would it change? They would simply fill these new slots with white Latinos.
    It wouldn’t matter anyway, Euro-Americans would still only read these columns so that they can agree with the conservative pundits and dis-agree with the liberal talking heads.
    This is not an area where the government can mandate diversity or where they can try to create a level playing field.
    “Latinos” should stop trying to join the gringo loop. Latinos should make their own loops and cut the gringo out and move on.
    They only want us to help them fight their wars and to pick their lettuce.

  • HispanicPundit
    September 13, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Hey LL,
    You might be interested in this related post as well:

  • Frank
    September 13, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Just what is the Latino perspective anyway? Is it different than any other group’s perspective? I note that anti-Hispanic and undocumented immigrant where used as a term together. Why is that? That is very misleading. I know most Americans aren’t anti-Hispanic but they certainly are anti-illegal alien. Is that wrong?
    I will be glad when we get past the mention of race/ethicity on every issue facing our country, if we ever do that is. Can’t we all just be Americans and nothing else?

  • cindylu
    September 13, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    This isn’t too surprising, though I live in LA and the major newspapers here try really hard (though with varying success) to have writers and stories covering our community.

  • Horace
    September 18, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    The Latino perspective:
    1. Borders mean nothing, just an obstacle for their friends and family to violate.
    2. Anyone who objects to illegal immigration is a racist.
    3. If immigration laws don’t favor us then they’re immoral.
    4. It’s what happens today that counts, the economic future of this nation notwithstanding.
    5. Hospital bills are something that’s paid by someone else.
    6. Civics is something you had to take in high school, if you don’t drop out first.
    7. English is for gringos.
    8. Bi-lingualism is great. It’s the gateway to employment in any retail occupation, after all it’s the difference between employment or not in Hispanic ghettos, the minimum wage and $6.00 per hour. They get to say they’re multicultural, with an accent.
    9. Having birthright children are key to claims of the right to stay in this country after entering illegally.
    10. Enforcement of immigration laws is ethnic cleansing, according to their spokeswoman, Ms. Arellano.
    11. Its your fault that we die in the desert because because you gringos have jobs we need.
    12. Now that you’ve made something out of the land that you stole we want it back.
    13. Where there’s a Mexican, there’s a Mexico.
    14. We messed up our country but we can’t staighten out our affairs, so we’ll just give up and take someone else’s.
    15. It’s ok to invade your country, but if your an illegal immmigrant in Mexico, we’ll beat you, rape you and steal your money.
    16. Documents? We don’t need no stinking documents.

  • Frank
    September 18, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Horace, clap, clap, clap!

  • Karen
    September 24, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Horace: Take an economics class.

  • Horace
    September 26, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Another one, Karen? I already have a masters.

Comments are closed.