If a U.S. media outlet today doesn’t have several Latino writers, editors and columnists it should be embarrassed and it should be hiring; mastheads must be published and visible; the N.F.L’s Rooney rule, which requires each football team to interview candidates of color from outside the organization when hiring for major jobs, should be instituted across the industry; bylines, articles, sources and salaries should be scrutinized. Just 13 percent of the Los Angeles Times newsroom is Latino in a city that is almost 50 percent Latino. As a result of organizing by the paper’s union and its Latino caucus, the newspaper’s owner committed to a 25 percent Latino staff in the next five years.
The inventory of exclusion is long. Latinos have been shut out of prestige magazines that confer authority, awards and book deals. New York City is about 30 percent Latino — 2.5 million stories to tell. Yet on its contributor page, The New Yorker magazine does not appear to list a single Latino; the magazine declined to confirm or deny. Because of the publication’s union, some newsroom inequalities have recently been addressed. The New Yorker should tackle racial inequalities too, so that excluded groups, including Latinos, particularly nonwhite Latinos, are hired as high-level editors and writers and the magazine can credibly cover Nueva York.
Funders and investors working to build Latino power must understand that information is essential community infrastructure. They should invest in independent Latino journalism like Futuro Media Group, L.A. Taco, Revista Étnica, Conecta Arizona, 80grados, Radio Ambulante and Latino Rebels instead of bankrolling perennially “diversifying” but never “diverse” organizations.
The Mexican-American critic Shea Serrano’s one-man media empire is a model. He created a scholarship to support emerging Latino journalists.
Spanish-language journalism must be supported too: El Centro de Periodismo Investigativo in Puerto Rico played a pivotal role in bringing down Gov. Ricardo Roselló; imagine if we had an ace Latino investigative shop dissecting Washington. Cultural criticism, watchdog reporting and the opportunity to tell our own stories are crucial to building collective identity and confronting injustice.
Imagination is essential too. When you sleep with one eye open, it’s difficult to dream. That’s why our art is a survival strategy. It was on abundant display in Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a 2017 citywide series of exhibitions, funded by the Getty Foundation. Getty’s support enabled La Raza newspaper and U.C.L.A.’s Chicano Studies Research Center to organize 25,000 images from its archive, offering an electrifying insider view of the 1970s Chicano power movement.