Congressman Joaquin Castro unveils new GAO report on Hispanic underrepresentation across broadcasting and publishing. UnidosUS Acting CEO Sonia Pérez expresses commitment to end the invisibility of our community in the media.
By Viviana López Green,
Senior Director, Racial Equity Initiative, UnidosUS
On Wednesday, October 5, 2022, Congressman Joaquin Castro released the results of a new federal report on the underrepresentation of Latinos in the media across the film, television, news, and publishing sectors at a Headliners Newsmaker event at the National Press Club. UnidosUS Acting CEO Sonia Pérez also gave opening remarks highlighting that the severe underrepresentation of Latinos in the media is a critically important issue in our community. This is a follow-up to the 2021 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found that Hispanics make up 18% of the population but held just 12% of the jobs in the media industry. This year’s report titled “Workforce Diversity: Hispanic Workers Are Underrepresented in the Media, and More Data Are Needed for Federal Enforcement Efforts” found the following:
- That little change in Hispanic underrepresentation in the media industry occurred from 2010 through 2019
- The extent of underrepresentation in the media varied by occupation and gender, with Latinas at a greater disadvantage
- Stakeholders interviewed by GAO identified challenges Hispanics may face working in the industry, such as financial barriers, access to education and professional networks
Congressman Castro reflected on the results of the GAO report with the following comments:
- “The defining images and narratives that come out of American media affect every Latino or Latina, no matter their walk of life — who, for example, may be interviewing to be an accountant, a lawyer, an engineer or a teacher in a room full of strangers who see them as American media has defined our community.”
- “The problem is especially acute for Latinas, who make up just 3% of jobs in the media industry, once you exclude service jobs.”
- “I suspect things won’t change until the federal government sets standards for representation.” The GAO recommends that the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates broadcast licenses, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which oversees employment fairness, bolster their data sharing.”
UnidosUS Acting CEO Sonia Pérez shared the long commitment of UnidosUS to provide accurate narratives and representation of the Latino community since our founding in 1968. “It is distressing that we are still talking about the issue of Hispanic media underrepresentation. Nearly 30 years ago, UnidosUS, which was then known as the National Council of La Raza, released two reports which documented the virtual invisibility of Latinos in the media,” she said. While there is no question that progress has been made in the last 30 years, it has not been nearly enough as evidenced in the report.
In short, the real story of the Latino community remains largely untold. That is why UnidosUS has made changing the narrative about our community a top priority for our organization. We recently launched a campaign in Arizona, “Count on Us,” that showcases the importance of the Latino community’s social and economic contributions to that state. It is work that we hope to expand to new markets and nationwide.
In addition to stimulating and conducting important research on Hispanics and the media, our narrative work is also seeking to change media coverage, assure greater inclusion of our community in textbooks and other educational materials, and tell our community’s story through the Museum of the American Latino and other cultural exhibits.
We are excited about the alignment of UnidosUS narrative and racial equity work and the “infrastructure of opportunity” that Congressman Castro has been advocating and building for our community.
UnidosUS is grateful for Congressman Castro’s extraordinary leadership and looks forward to continuing working together to ensure that the report’s recommendations are widely disseminated and adopted. You can read the 2022 GAO Report HERE.
For the most up-to-date information about UnidosUS’s efforts on racial equity, follow UnidosUS across all social media platforms at @WeAreUnidosUS and visit our dedicated racial equity page on our website.