Commentary

Where are the Latinos on the Sunday Morning News Shows?

July 8, 2011

Commentary:
By Felix Sanchez

   Last week (June 29), an initiative was launched that draws attention to the lack of Latino voices on the four broadcast television network’s Sunday morning news talk shows: ABC’s This Week; CBS’s Face the Nation; FOX News Sunday; and NBC’s Meet the Press. This social impact project called “The Art of Politics” is a joint effort by the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA), together with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), The LIBRE Initiative and Being Latino.

   Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States, numbering 50.5 million or just over 16 percent of the entire population (54 million if you include Puerto Rico). Latinos participate as leaders and influencers in every sector and topic covered by network news programs, yet on the networks’ Sunday political opinion shows, the presence of Latinos is negligible.

   From March to May 2011, among the 234 total guests and commentators featured on all four broadcast networks, 5 (2.1 percent) were Hispanics and 16 (6.8 percent) were African Americans. While women have been making inroads over the years, totaling 46 (19.7 percent) during the documented three month time period, political punditry in America is still dominated by white males. The virtual absence of Latinos on the week’s most influential political and policy news shows depicts a news industry that has not evolved with the changing U.S. demographics.

   The 2012 Presidential elections are just over 16 months away. The Latino vote is expected to play a critical role in electing or reelecting the next President of the United States. Yet a Latino perspective conveyed by Latino contributors is missing from all political network shows.

   The principal broadcast news organizations have a responsibility and a duty to include Latino voices on these critical news shows. The Art of Politics impact project has requested a meeting with each network and will continue to update data every three months. More than 16 National Latino organizations have also endorsed this initiative. For more information see: www.hispanicarts.org and click on “Art of Politics.”

Felix Sanchez is is the Chief Executive Officer of TerraCom, a government and public relations firm in Washington, DC, and serves as the pro bono Chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts (NHFA). He is one of the founders of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit, 501 (3) organization dedicated to promoting Latinos both in front of and behind the camera. Felix Sanchez can be reached at FSanchez@hispanicarts.org.

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