WEWS-TV went on the air in 1947 and has been continuously owned
by Scripps Television since then, making it the oldest TV
station in Ohio.
Multi-media journalist Paul Kiska, who has worked at
Newschannel 5 for 14 years, also attended the meeting. He told
the group his main coverage area is in Lorain County, but he
also covers stories “anytime, anywhere” he’s needed.
“From my perspective, the Hispanic community has gone from being
invisible, to being now overlooked and undervalued,” said
José Feliciano, Sr., chairman of the Hispanic Roundtable and
who introduced both Ms. Frater and Mr. Kiska. “My own sense is
that the national Hispanic story has driven you guys, the media,
to pay more attention to us locally—even though we have been
raising issues with you all the time.”
Attorney Feliciano cited a political event where 500 people
showed up to hear the Hispanic surrogates for two major
campaigns—but no TV station bothered to cover the event, even
though the stations [and other media] were timely notified.
“I think that’s a shame,” said Kiska to applause. “You’ve got to
keep pushing until it’s understood and we show up for that type
“I recently saw a headline that ‘The Hispanic giant is alive,
cranky, and taking names’—and we are taking names. So this is an
opportunity to understand us, but there’s a lot of frustration
out there,” said Feliciano.
“This is opening our eyes and we’ll take the message back to the
station as best we can,” promised Kiska.
“What we need from the media now is a commitment to really
devote some time to us, because there is no other way that you
will devote time to us with a piece on the news,” said Monica
Olivera of the Alzheimer’s Association, who pointed
out one station has a TV news segment devoted to children. “To
give us five minutes on what Hispanics are giving to the
(at-large) community, I think you would be pioneers with that. I
think that’s the way to get to know us better.” Ms. Olivera is
the Hispanic Services Specialist for the Alzheimer’s
Kiska seemed apologetic and pointed out that more news managers
typically show up for such a meeting. But he also referenced
“breaking news” or the “news of the day” as an excuse for why
more coverage of the Hispanic community cannot be guaranteed.
Other forum attendees pointed out that mainstream Cleveland
media tend to focus on the negative in the Latino
community, such as a fight or a shooting. One questioned how
many Latinos are on staff at the TV station. Ms. Frater admitted
there are only two: divisional manager Ed Fernández
(based in Detroit) and news anchor Stephanie Ramírez.
Neither was present.
Kiska emphasized he covers a lot of “positive stories” and
encouraged the audience to continue to reach out and “bring
issues to our attention.” He explained there’s been a new
position created known as an “assignment planner” to look for
deeper issues that can be covered. He offered sheets with
contact information to station news personnel.
Another audience member pointed to Cleveland’s shrinking overall
population, but a steady rise in its Latino population. She
asked whether there was anything in the TV station’s business
plan to try to grow Hispanic viewership. Ms. Frater admitted
there was not such a plan in place, but promised to “take it
back to the station” management.
Another audience member asked the station to consider public
affairs programming on Sunday mornings aimed at the Latino
community, similar to what it provides other groups.
“What you’re hearing here is frustration aimed at all
[mainstream] media, not just you,” pointed out Myra Rosario,
another forum participant who has been in advertising and media
sales. “What we are really looking for is a media partner who is
sincere about the Hispanic community.”
She also stated her displeasure that there is no “local” Latino
“voice or face” as an on-air personality at the station that
could serve the greater Latino community. Ms. Ramírez hails from
Several Latino media representatives were present—Lou Acosta
of North Coast Minority Media and Rico of La
Prensa. Both expressed their frustrations with mainstream
media over-emphasizing crime reporting and ignoring or
neglecting many positive contributions and events by Latinos.
Rico opined that many in the Latino community felt insulted when
mainstream media used the word “illegal” instead of
“undocumented” when referring to types of immigrants—“the latter
terminology is more accurate and less explosive.” Rico
continued, “Mainstream media generally uses the word ‘American’
when referring to only a resident of the United States,
whereas, in reality, any individual from North, Central,
or South America is an ‘American.’ This offends many Latinos.”
Each audience member, in turn, thanked the Newschannel 5 staff
for being concerned enough to attend the meeting and engage in a
dialogue. But the final speaker may have summed up the thoughts
of the audience by questioning whether the station’s
representatives “have the authority to move the needle” in the
direction they are seeking.
Only time will tell whether the community forum will bear fruit
in the form of more positive media coverage for Cleveland’s
Latino community. But many attendees left hopeful that at least
they received a chance to air their grievances and make