Latinos are absent from newsrooms, Hollywood films, the new government. report found
PHOENIX – Latinos are perpetually absent from major newsrooms, Hollywood films and other media industries where their portrayals – or lack thereof – could have a profound impact on how their fellow Americans view them, according to a released government report Tuesday.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus asked the United States Government Accountability Office to investigate last October.
U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, has made the inclusion of Latinos in media a major issue, imploring Hollywood studio managers, journalism leaders and book publishers to include their views.
Castro says the lack of accurate portrayal, especially in Hollywood, at best means Americans don’t fully understand Latinos and their contributions. At worst, especially when Latinos are only portrayed as drug dealers or criminals, it invites politicians to exploit negative stereotypes for political gain, Castro said.
This could lead to violence against Latinos, such as the murder of 23 people in El Paso in 2019 by a gunman who targeted Hispanics.
“The American media … relied on stereotypes”
“None of this has been an effort to tell people exactly what to write, but to encourage media institutions to reflect the face of America. Because then we think the stories will be more precise and more representative of the truth and less stereotypical, ”Castro said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The American media, including the print media, have relied on stereotypes of Latinos. If the goal is the truth, well, it sure hasn’t served the truth.
The report found that in 2019, the estimated percentage of Latinos working in newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers was around 8%. An estimated 11% of news analysts, reporters and journalists were Latino, although GAO used data that included Spanish-speaking networks, where virtually all contributors are Latinos, and those employed in other information sectors, not necessarily just information collectors. This could inflate the numbers considerably.
The report also found that the strongest growth among Hispanics in the media industry was in service jobs, while management jobs were the least represented.
Ana-Christina Ramón has been part of a team that has been collecting data on diversity in Hollywood for a decade and began publishing annual reports in 2014. Ramón is the Director of Research and Civic Engagement at UCLA College of Letters and Science.
Latinos make up only about 5% to 6% of the major players in television and film, although they make up about 18% of the American population, according to his research.
“It’s a bit of a ceiling. It doesn’t exceed that percentage, ”Ramón said, although she added that television has made much greater strides in roles important to Latinos than movies.
For years, Hollywood executives have argued that movies with various tracks don’t make money. Ramón found out that it did.
“There’s this idea Hollywood has that ‘Oh, we can’t do too much diversity, that’ll scare white people.’ Well, that didn’t scare the whites, ”Ramón said.
Cristina Mislán, associate professor of journalism at the University of Missouri, Colombia, was not surprised by the figures found by the GAO and noted that much of the growth of Latinos in media professions comes from the service industry.
“It’s important because the more representations of diverse cultures and peoples we have, the more opportunities we have to tell richer and more complicated stories,” said Mislán.
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