April 13, 2001

The Public Forum ... El Foro Publico

Contreras' Facts Distorted

As a Hispanic woman and an employee of KPBS, I object to Raoul Lowery Contreras' recent commentary (April 3 "The British Are Here..."). In my 10+ years working at KPBS I have been impressed by our general manager's and our journalists' sensitivity to including and appreciating diverse voices. This is shown through our radio and TV programming, in our community outreach projects, and in the people who are my co-workers. My experience at KPBS has been the exact opposite of what Contreras portrays. As our staff has grown so has the diversity of our employees, and my personal experience proves opportunity at KPBS is color blind. I began my association with the station with a 2-year stint as a student assistant in the mid-`80s. Since rejoining the station in 1990, I have been promoted steadily and now serve as an associate general manager, overseeing marketing, education and new media. My experience with KPBS is positive and reflective that Hispanics are hired and promoted within the stations.

Contreras' facts on KPBS' staff size are clearly distorted. KPBS employs almost 200 people. Operating under license from SDSU, KPBS is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against persons on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, marital status, age, disability or veterans status. Our staff is diverse, including Hispanics, African-Americans, Jews, Indians, gays and lesbians and a variety of other ethnicities and lifestyles. And in the last five years, we have made significant efforts to increase the diversity of our staff. More than one third of all hires in recent years have been people of color. Through referrals and advertising in ethnic publications we've tried to get the word out that KPBS is a place that wants a variety of people helping to make decisions for our future.

Because of the diversity of our staff, we air countless programs on all types of issues. On any given day you can hear radio and TV programs on topics of interest to Hispanics, including Mexican and Latino films; diversity at local high schools; racial profiling; hate crimes; Cesar Chavez Day; and The Latino middle class.

KPBS-TV's thousands of hours of children's programming each year strives to encourage understanding among children by providing messages of diversity and inclusion. These values are imparted to all 285,000 kids who watch KPBS each week _ including 133,000 children of color _ that's 44 percent of the children watching KPBS. In addition, KPBS' outreach activities for parents, child-care providers and children are offered in both English and Spanish in San Diego's Hispanic communities.

I can use a lot of facts and figures to refute Contreras. But at an event last fall where KPBS and Union Bank of California honored five Hispanics in the community, KPBS General Manager Doug Myrland said it best:

"All broadcasters hold up a mirror to their communities—it is just that the mirror we public broadcasters use is big enough to include more people—not cut off people at this edge or that edge of society—and we try to make sure our mirror is not distorted, even if some people would rather look a little thinner, or taller. I heard a media researcher the other day say that commercial radio and television is increasingly populated by only two kinds of people—freaks and stars. But on public broadcasting most everyone you see or hear is neither a freak nor a star. We want to include everyone, and sometimes that fundamental value of inclusiveness and diversity is mischaracterized as a so-called `liberal bias.' Well, our own viewers and listeners, in survey after survey, tell us that they trust public broadcasting to be fair. And if by being fair—by showing people not on that Survivor Island or Gilligan's Island or Fantasy Island—but by showing real people and real problems and real solutions—if that's a liberal bias, then I guess I plead guilty and will willingly do the time!"

Deanna Martin Mackey,
KPBS Associate General Manager
for Marketing, Education and New Media


Still a Minority

La Prensa is 100% correct. Removing the word minority will do nothing to help minorities in San Diego. If we eliminate the word that is used to properly describe the lack of honest opportunity and access we've been given, then we are in reality silencing the truth. Look at the hiring record of municipalities in San Diego county. Even those who profess to be non-discriminative have very few Raza. The City of Chula Vista, a city that takes in millions upon millions of Latino taxpayer dollars has almost no racial minorities in its top paid 20 management positions.

Yes, we are still the minority when it comes to getting a fair share of decent paying jobs. Progress is slowly taking place so let not be too quick to get rid of the word.

Virgil Pina
Chula Vista


Time to Change Judging Requirments for Pageants

I am writing as a concerned citizen on an event I recently observed. This past Friday (4/06) I was in attendance at the Miss Chula Vista Pageant and was shocked to discover the winner. The winner was very attractive, yet I found it odd she didn't win any other awards.

I realize the Chula Vista and many other pageants have tried changing the stereotype and transitioned the pageant into an educational/scholarship opportunity for the young women. I questioned the judging at the pageant because it seemed as though the ladies were scored only on appearance. I understand the judged categories (interview, impromptu question, evening gown, and sportswear), but I believe two of the most pertinent areas of pageant (essay and speech) were neglected.

It is important for all Queens to possess strong oral and written communication skills, but how can these two essential qualities not be judged? According to the Miss San Diego pageants, the speech and essay are accounted for, and contestant must do well to proceed further. I am urging that we change the judging standards for all city pageants.

Claudia Paz
Chula Vista


A Workable Solution to Rolling Blackouts

With the eventual increase of rolling blackouts during the upcoming summer season, we must look for some short-term solutions.

How about shifting the hours of government operations? If the majority of government work was scheduled during non-peak hours, that would surely help reduce demand during the expensive peak hours. It would also give us as workers the time to conveniently access government services.

We should also consider setting up energy monitoring groups to check that government buildings A/C, lighting and other power usage items are minimized during peak hours. I suggest this because as we all know that when it's our money being spent on utilities, we can keep a lid on it.

Michael S. Metti
El Cajon


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