People of Latin Ancestry in the American Media
The United States of America is a country that prides itself for being a diverse society that has people with different cultural backgrounds and origins. The US has been described as an immigrant nation since it has people from all over the world who interact and share their cultures diverse cultures. Despite the diversity in the American society, there have been claims of inequality in the way certain groups of people are perceived by the rest of Americans. There have been claims of discrimination and stereotypes emanating from certain quarters in the within the larger American society. One group that has suffered most from these negative perceptions and alleged discrimination are people of the Latin ancestry. There have also been serious claims of the media involving in fueling these stereotypes and discrimination by way of portraying the Latin Americans in a particular way. This research, therefore, sought to find out how the media has been portrayed people of the Latin origin and how this contributes to the perceptions of non- Latinos towards the Latinos (Hartmann, 1974). The researchers explored a number of areas when investigating these issues.
How as the Media Portrayed the People of Latin Ancestry in the America?
This report has focused on the role of the media in promoting of breaking stereotypes in the United States of America. With the advancement of technology, communication has gone to a different level. Most people in the world today depend on information that they get from the media to make judgments and decision. Today people interact more and socialize more through the media. Social sites like facebook and twitter have formed the basis of human interactions in the recent years. Most people depend on what they learn from the mean stream media to understand people they have not interacted with, the electronic media including radio and television and the print media mainly newspapers and magazines therefore have a role to play to ensure that that correct information is passed. This research has shown how the American media has portrayed the Latin people and has made recommendations on how best negative media practices can be corrected through ethical practices by the media personalities and the media houses.
The methodology that was used in this research, was vivid analysis of various sources of information, including media reports from television stations and newspapers; analysis of scholarly works on how the media may promote or break stereotypes including books and journals; and through group’s analysis and brainstorming on the various issues that the team members thought might contribute to the media involvement in portraying groups in a particular manner.
The media has been blamed in several instances for not exercising professionalism in the way they report to when reporting on stories about various groups of people. The Latinos, who are sometimes referred to as the Hispanics, have had their share of the discrimination in the American media. There have been several instances where the Latinos have been discriminated against in the Mass in the United States, the African- American have in the past several years passed through a similar ordeal in American (Balkaran, 1999). Balkaran links his arguments to the Marxist class theory, in which Karl Marx argued that, there are two social classes in the society, the owners of the means of production and those who provide labor. In this argument Marx argues that the owners of the means of production means of production have to use all the necessary means at their disposal to keep the workers in the lower class so that the laborers can continues providing cheap labor. This makes the poor keep languishing in poverty while the rich get richer. Based on this argument, one would argue that branding the Latinos with negative stereotypes would be aimed at lowering their status so that they do not give competition to the majority (Goldberg, 1993).
Some scholars argue that the most commonly seen people in the media like television influences to a large extent the kind of perception that the entire nation may be having on certain groups of people. For instance if most of the television hosts and news anchors are from a particular ethnicity or if most of the movie actors belong to a particular ethnicity, then it would be very easy be very easy for these host to identify more with “their own” ethnicities thereby disregarding other groups or even portraying such groups as less important and in some cases finding it very easy to stereotype these groups. This does not only occur on television but also on radio and newspapers (Taylor, 1995).
Media is very significant for entertainment. Some of the most common aspects that the media promote in the entertainment industry are music and movies. Most American enjoy watching movies that show on various television stations. These movies are meant to entertain; however, these movies can also be very crucial when it come to providing information to members of the public. This means that movies pass information to people with aim of informing and changing their perception about particular groups of people and about certain things. The roles that people play in movies have influenced how the king of perception that people have on them. For instance, in most American movies, African American have more often than not played role of criminals and members of gangs and this has largely influenced the way African Americans are generally perceived in the United States. The Latinos are also portrayed with such stereotypes which make them to be associated with lots of negative images (Lilley 2012).
The culture of discrimination has been with the human race for a very long time, obviously, there are who for years have benefited from this culture and have acquired and maintained their power through act of sustaining discrimination against other groups, such people always work to maintain the status quo so that their positions are not affected by those they discriminate against. As Balkaran argues, the American media has over the years been influenced by powerful forces, which control the kind the information that gets to the public, he further argues that the structure of the economy in the American media makes them prone to pressure from certain quarters which makes the media to deliver content that can be considered unethical (Balkaran, 1999) this means that the Latino discrimination may to some extent have been influenced by such powerful forces.
According to Mendez-Mendez& Alverio (2003), the frequency with which a particular group is covered in the media and the kind of stories featured about that particular group makes a difference on the people may have about the group. For instance, the two argue that in the year 2003, only one percent of all stories on the television in various networks were about the Hispanics, this despite the fact that the Latino make about thirteen percent of the American population. This means that these groups of people have been neglected by the media. This can be explained by the small numbers of Latinos who work in the mainstream media. The stories that make it to the various media house are those that concern the majority of Americans who working in the media who are white, he further argues that whenever Latinos are featured in the news or any other program in most cases it is always for the wrong reasons such as crime or illegal migration (Mendez& Alverio, 2003).
The findings of this study were based on media reports that revealed a number of issues relating to the problems that the media showed when it came to portraying the Hispanics negatively. The analysis was not only based on the evidence that came from media sources but also from the contribution of team members based on their personal observations and experiences as well.
A survey conducted in 2001 by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists showed that most of the stories that were aired on television various network news were having negative connotations that portrayed the Latin Americans negatively. This report indicated that about 66% of the stories that were aired about the Latino were reporting on poverty, criminal activity, terrorism, and illegal immigration. This survey further indicated that the way the media portrayed the Latino formed the major basis of how the rest of Americans perceived the Latinos. The Association conducted another research in 2002 that was related to the allegations that were labeled against Jose Padilla who was of Latin ancestry. Padilla was arrested and accused of planning to detonate a dirty bomb in America. The authorities alleged that he was a terrorist who did not have good intentions. The terrorism story about Padilla was treated by the American media as coverage about the Latinos in 2002. This one case covered about 18% of all stories that were aired about Latinos in America. The survey also found out that at the time, 21 news networks actively reported about the Padilla story as though they were reporting about the people of Latin ancestry (Mendez-Mendez& Alverio, 2003).
The perceptions about the Latin Americans have been shaped widely by the discriminatory media reporting. One common factor that the other Americans associate the Latinos with is illegal immigration. For most non-Latin American citizens, the word Latino and illegal immigrant are synonymous. Another survey conducted in 2012 whose report was released by the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Latino Decisions indicated that there is a perception among the people living in America that more than half of the people of Latin ancestry did not have legal documents. They further indicate that this perception has been built mainly by the media. Most of the non- Latino American also believe that the greatest percentage Latino are immigrants, this prompted them to do a background check on the status of the Latinos in the US where they found out that only 18% of the Latino were undocumented while about 37% of the Latino were immigrants. The rest were American citizen who had been born in the US (National Hispanic Media Coalition, 2012).
A number of elite of the Latin ancestry have also expressed their discontent with the way the media has more often than not portrayed people of the Latin ancestry negatively. Matt Barreto, a political scientist and the principal of the of the Latino decisions indicated during an interview with NBC that the negative images and stereotype that were created by the Media against the Hispanics had very serious impacts on the perception of the non Hispanic Americans. National Hispanic Media Coalition, Alex Nogales. While addressing a press conference in Washington DC in September 2012, Nogales indicated that the media was being unfairly cruel to the Latin people living in the United States. The further stated that the kind of stereotypes that were being created by the media were amounting to hate crimes and propagating hate messages and even hate speech against the Latino people. Mr. Nogales demanded accountability from the Media and appealed for more sanity when it comes to media reporting on issues concerning the Latinos (Lilley, 2012).
In trying to establish facts about the Media discrimination against the Latin Americans, Latino Decisions conducted another survey. This was an interactive survey that was done online. The survey targeted 3000 respondents of non-Latino origin. During the survey, the respondents were shown video clips that either had positive and negative connotations about the Latinos. According to the report based on this survey, those who watched or were exposed to the negative video or audio clips about Latinos had a higher stereotype rates directed toward the Latinos. Most of the respondents viewed Latinos in terms of criminality, having big families and as illegal immigrants based on the clips that they watched. The report further indicated that almost half of people who were exposed to negative radio clips about the Latinos thought that the Latinos were taking away Jobs that belonged to the Americans. This was 49 percent of the respondents. One interesting aspect of this survey was that about 33 percent of those people who watched positive clips also thought that the Latinos were taking away their jobs. This was a relatively lower percentage and therefore affirming that the media plays a major role in creating and sustaining the stereotypes against the Latinos (Latino Decision, 2012).
Speaking when releasing the report, Mr. Barreto, the principal of Latino decisions argued that all media had serious causal effect of the stereotypes that existed in the against the Latin Americans. He indicated that it did no matter whether it was news, entertainment or radio, television or the print media. His take was that all the media played a role. In his analysis he gave statistics from the survey to back his argument. From the report, 68 percent of those who watched positive television clips about the Latino people believed they were honest people as compared to 53 percent of the respondents who watched negative television clips. The report also indicated that 61 percent of those who watched positive television clips thought that the Latinos were good neighbors and were more welcoming as compared to 48 percent of the respondents who watched the negative television clips. However, one factor that stood out was the tag of “illegal immigrant.” Even the positive news clips did not change the perception of most of the respondents about this stereotype. The report indicated that 54 percent of the respondents still believed that most of the Latinos were illegal immigrants; however, the interesting part was that most of those who believed so much in this stereotype were television viewers at 48 percent (Latino Decision, 2012).
The report has given deep insight on how the media have negatively exposed the people of Latin origin also known as the Latinos or the Hispanics. The media has shown open bias in its reporting and on the kind of stories that have been aired frequently not only on the television but also in radio and print media. With the advent of technology, if this trend Continues, it may threaten the stability of one of the most stable countries in the world. Just as the findings from the various reports that have been analyzed in this research indicate, not all Latinos are immigrants, there are those who were born in the US and who have legal status as Americans. Such people should be recognized and be treated with respect. The generalized stereotypical reporting by the media should be control by the authorities so that all Americans can feel they are part of America.