THE general news media feed on stereotypes and fuel racial unrest," says Aurora Flores, spokeswoman for the Latino Coalition for Fair Media. "There won't be any change until people are really up in arms."
Hispanic journalists and publishers across the country agree that there is a substantial underrepresentation of Hispanic interests in the news media. Only 3.5 percent of the country's newspaper journalists are Hispanic, according to a National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) study. These findings mirror those of a survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) that identifies 2.6 percent of the nation's journalists as Hispanic, up from 1.7 percent in 1987.
Ms. Flores, who runs her own public-relations firm in New York, says that the lack of advertising dollars aimed at the Hispanic market limits the news media's focus on Hispanics.
"I worked for a number of Madison Avenue public-relations firms," Flores says. "I was the only minority in a senior management position.... If the [Hispanic] community does not complain, corporate America will continue to take it for granted."
Earlier this year, the American Newspaper Publishers Association and ASNE agreed to promote the hiring of minorities so that by the year 2000, newspaper staffs will reflect the ethnic makeup of the work force in their communities.
At the 62 papers participating in the NAHJ study, 35 percent of the new hires last year were minorities. Hispanics were 10 percent of the new hires. In television journalism, the NAHJ study found that Hispanics made up 5.1 percent of the employees. TV networks' total employment dropped 7 percent between 1986 and 1990, but minority hiring at independent television stations has increased. Hispanics represent only 2 percent of radio journalists.