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The Misleading Report on Latino Representation in the Media

Latina, El American

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Last week the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report on the representation of the Latino community in the media was made public, the content of which states that citizens of Latino origin are underrepresented in the media industry.

“We found that Hispanics are underrepresented in the media industry compared to their representation in the rest of the workforce,” reads part of the report.

Congressman Joaquín Castro, a Democratic representative from Texas who promoted the research and who is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said recently that the report “should alarm us all.”

In a conversation with Ed O’Keefe for CBS News, Castro said it is a “foundational problem” for the Latino community in the United States, which is “woefully underrepresented” in the media.

“When you lack Latino representation in any of these industries, you’re less likely to have an accurate portrait of the Latino community, and the portraits are reduced to stereotypes,” Castro points to as his main problem.

Asked by O’Keefe whether Castro encountered resistance from any media outlet to “expand Latino representation” on their teams, the Democrat said he was disappointed when the New York Times set limits on meeting with the editorial team and only agreed to a conversation with the business team.

“If the goal of the news is the truth, that certainly doesn’t serve the truth,” Castro said of the matter. “Representation matters because it also affects how Latinos are portrayed in certain media.”

According to the aforementioned report, Latinos represent approximately 12 % of employees in the media industry, which includes film, television, news and publishing, despite being 18 % of the U.S. population.

Percentages of Latino representation in media and other industries. (US GAO)

Thus, Castro infers that the number of Latino employees in the media needs to be increased until that remaining 6 % is satisfied.

However, both Castro’s alarmism and the information contained in the report are misleading when other data are taken into account.

The math doesn’t lie: Latino underrepresentation?

Data from the Pew Research Center from 2019 indicates that at least 62 % of Latinos in the United States are bilingual, and only 38 % of them speak primarily Spanish.

Based on that data, conservative media strategist and political commentator of Cuban descent Giancarlo Sopo referred to Crespo’s statements and his interpretation of the report as “bullshit.”

“This is such bullshit from Joaquin Castro to Ed O’keefe,” read Sopo’s tweet. “There are 60M Hispanics in the US. 35 % are Spanish-dominant. Two national networks serve them.”

“That means English-fluent Hispanics are 11.8 % of the US population — literally the same exact same % of Latinos in media,” adds the Cuban strategist.

Official 2020 data indicate that the total U.S. population was just over 331 million, of which some 61 million (18.5 %) are Latinos.

The Sopo data, which coincides with studies by the Pew Research Center, indicate that about 35 % of Latinos in the United States speak Spanish as a majority. They represent 6 % of the total population.

There are two major media outlets in the United States that are dedicated exclusively to that niche, which are Telemundo and Univision, to which Sopo refers in his publication.

“To be clear: Joaquin Castro doesn’t care about Hispanics in the media,” Sopo adds in another tweet. “He only cares about having more Hispanics who are leftists in the media and instilling in Latinos an inferiority complex to make us susceptible to his toxic brand of identity politics.”

Tomás Lugo, journalist and writer. Born in Venezuela and graduated in Social Communication. Has written for international media outlets. Currently living in Colombia // Tomás Lugo, periodista y articulista. Nacido en Venezuela y graduado en Comunicación Social. Ha escrito para medios internacionales. Actualmente reside en Colombia.

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