So the conference could not have had a better keynote speaker to
draw out those points.
president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition,
is an advocate for Latinos and how they are represented in the
media, and has implemented several initiatives focused on
improving the status of the media in Latino communities.
Nogales was critical on how the Main Stream Media misrepresented
the population at large in his speech entitled: “Latinos:
Missing in Action in Film and Television.”
Nogales is currently evaluating the diversity features of four
major TV networks, pushing for more diversity in the industry’s
workforce and increased representation of Latinos in their
shows. Nogales is also challenging the portrayal of Latino
immigrants by mainstream media.
Renowned Efrain Gutiérrez came with his family from San
Antonio, Texas to speak on: “Chicano Filmmaking: The Need and
The participants were also treated to comments by Bing Goei
(Michigan Office for New Americans) and Prabu David
(Dean, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, MSU).
But the same can be done by local Latino media representatives,
combating the stereotypes portrayed in local newscasts and
telling stories of racism, separatism, and oppression in the way
services are delivered and the continued language barriers and
cultural incompetence experienced by the fastest-growing segment
of the US-American population. The conference was aimed at
addressing those disparities in some way.
“I think the major thing was to have the members of the Latino
media develop a network and have an understanding of the
different approaches they have in their respective outlets,”
said Dr. Martínez. “Another was to develop some sense of
commitment among participants who are not members of the media
and the importance of having input, particularly with regard to
the mainstream media and to explore ways in which they can have
input with Latino media.”
The conference featured prominent Latinos in all fields of
Southern Michigan and Northwest Ohio media—from Internet radio
to traditional radio stations, Latino-owned newspapers and
magazines, and Latino news reporters from mainstream TV
stations. The overwhelmingly majority advocated painting Latinos
in a positive light as much as possible during panel discussions
throughout the day.
Dennis Medel, midwesttejanoradio.com (Saginaw); Angie
Morales, lamejorgr.com (Grand Rapids); & Richard Castañon,
Jr., fiestacalienteradio.com (Saginaw).
Newspaper (Hardcopy and Digital):
José Flores (monthly, La Voz, Grand Rapids);
Rico Neller (bilingual weekly, LaPrensa, Michigan and
Ohio distribution); & Joel Morales (El Informador,
Manuel Medina (La Poderosa Radio Station, Grand
Rapids); Luis Peña (La Mejor 88.1FM, Detroit); &
Alex Reséndez (La Explosiva 1480AM, Detroit).
Ed Fernández (E.W. Scripps, Detroit); Eva Aguirre
Cooper (WOOD TV8/WOTV 4/WXVU Public Media, Grand Rapids);
& Marino Avila (WGVU Public Media, Grand Rapids).
Many of the panelists complained of underrepresentation in the
media, and of mainstream media stereotyping Latinos by its
overuse of crime features. Complaints were also made of
mainstream media using the word “American” to refer to only
citizens of the United States; the use of the words of “illegal”
or “alien” when referring to undocumented immigrants, and of
describing Cuba as a “communist” nation.
A group of professors and experts from around the country met at
Florida State University last year to create the
Association for Latino Media, Markets and Communication Research
(ALMMACR), a nonprofit whose mission is to enhance the
teaching and research of this growing arena of the field of
communication. That group is likely to provide the numbers
necessary to bolster the fight for stop Latino stereotypes and
ensure better representation in the mainstream media.
But the presidential campaign paints a disturbing anecdotal
picture of how Latinos are portrayed by candidates, while both
major political parties acknowledge their clout as a voting bloc
and seek their support in the upcoming national election.
Dr. Martínez points out those election results will determine
how Latinos fare economically over the next few years.
MSU Study: ‘Latinos 2025: A Needs Assessment of Latino
Communities in Southeast Michigan’
MSU recently released a study on Latino communities in
southeastern Michigan. That study showed 30 percent of the
Latino population in Michigan living in poverty between 2009 and
2013, significantly higher than the overall state population at
17 percent. Among Latino children, that poverty rate soared to
35.5 percent, compared to the statewide rate of 24 percent.
“That particular study is intended to highlight the particular
challenges that different segments of the Latino community are
experiencing and how important it is for agencies to close the
service delivery gap,” said
Dr. Martínez. “There was some emphasis on young adults, there
was emphasis on working adults, immigrants, and also on seniors.
There are different stages of life and they have different needs
and challenges that they are experiencing within the current
context of the social order in which we live today.”
The MSU researcher termed that current social order as “neoliberalism,”
a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers
control of economic factors to the private sector from the
emphasizes the value of free market competition. In particular,
neoliberalism is often characterized in terms of its belief in
the means to achieve human progress, its confidence in free
markets as the most-efficient allocation of resources, its
emphasis on minimal state intervention in economic and social
affairs, and its commitment to the freedom of trade and
“I think we have experienced a shift in the last 40 years of a
social democratic order to a neo-liberal order,” said Dr.
Martínez. “The neo-liberal order is what has concentrated wealth
at the top among elites in society and it has increased poverty
and increased poverty among children.”
With just 17 percent of Latinos in Michigan attaining at least a
bachelor’s degree, according to the study, lifting the economic
situation of those Latino families will be severely constricted
in the future, particularly if neoliberal policies continue to
concentrate wealth among a small group of US-Americans. In other
words, Latinos will likely remain in poverty for the foreseeable
“It’s increased an emphasis on diminished government and the
functions of government in providing for the common good, the
public good” said Dr. Martínez. “So we live in a completely
different social order today and we need to understand what
we’re up against as we try to envision a better reality for
people—not just Latinos, but all people, because the shift from
social democracy to neo-liberalism has impacted everyone.”
The MSU researcher points out the current presidential race
boils down to whether that economic ideology would continue or
not. Latinos will have a big say at the polls in that outcome,
that is, if they both register to vote and show up on election
day. He believes Hillary
Clinton vs. Donald Trump
comes down to economic philosophy.
“I think Trump, in particular, would keep that intact. I think
Clinton would recognize that the pendulum is moving in the other
direction and has taken up a populist agenda and is more willing
to move the needle to the center, with the neo-liberals having
moved the needle from the center to the right,” said Dr.
Martínez. “I think she believes in the social good, the public
good. I don’t think that he cares at all about it.”
Clinton’s task from in the waning months of the presidential
campaign will be to reach Latino voters with that message—enough
to draw them to the polls, as well as vote for her. Clinton
nationally and regionally are hiring Latino leaders to work in
battleground states with large Hispanic populations and
monitoring states that may eventually come into play, like
“I think the last time she ran, when she ran against Obama, I
think Latinos were brought in very late in the campaign. I think
there was the assumption that Latinos were in her camp and it
turns out that they were not,” explained Dr. Martínez. “It turns
out they were the deciding segment of the electorate and have a
lot of influence.”
Consider that a lesson learned and changes have been made in the
2016 presidential campaign by the Clinton camp. According to a
recent Buzzfeed article, the Clinton campaign has brought on a
Latino leadership team to ensure the final months of the
campaign don’t ignore Latino voters or take them for granted
this time. That is partially fueled by the anti-Trump sentiment
among Latinos for the billionaire businessman’s comments on
immigration and building a wall to keep Mexicans out of the U.S.
“The overwhelming majority of Latinos support her. Latinos
believe that government ought to have a strong presence in terms
of promoting the public good,” said Dr. Martínez. “They know he
doesn’t represent any of that.”