In a bit of disheartening news in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, a new government study has confirmed that Latinx individuals are vastly under-included and underrepresented in many parts of the media world.
Astrid Galvan of the Associated Press reported on the study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which showed that “Latinos are perpetually absent in major newsrooms, Hollywood films and other media industries where their portrayals — or lack thereof — could deeply impact how their fellow Americans view them.”
In the report, researchers calculated that in 2019 — the most recent year they had data to cull from — “the estimated percentage of Latinos working in newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers was about 8%,” Galvan said. “An estimated 11% of news analysts, reporters and journalists were Latino.”
AP also noted that the study from the Government Accountability Office included Spanish-language networks, where virtually all contributors are Latinx — a fact that could make Latinx representation look slightly better than it actually is.
According to Galvan, “the biggest growth among Hispanics in the media industry was in service jobs, while management jobs had the lowest representation.”
In a similar ongoing study that began in 2014, UCLA’s Ana-Christina Ramón looked at diversity in Hollywood and has found that “Latinos account for only about 5% to 6% of main cast members in TV and film, despite being roughly 18% of the U.S. population.”
According to Galvan, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the U.S. Government Accountability Office began researching the subject of Latinx inclusion in the media last October, with the support of U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas.
An ardent supporter of inclusion and representation for the Latinx community, Galvan said Castro continues to make Latinx visibility one of his ongoing agendas, encouraging Hollywood executives, media leaders and book publishers to include the perspectives of Latinx individuals within their work.
“Castro says the lack of accurate representation, especially in Hollywood, means at the very best that Americans don’t get a full understanding of Latinos and their contributions,” Galvan reported. “At worst — especially when Latinos are solely portrayed as drug dealers or criminals — it invites politicians to exploit negative stereotypes for political gain.”
In an interview with the AP, Castro said, “none of this has been an effort to tell people exactly what to write but to encourage that media institutions reflect the face of America. Because then we believe that the stories will be more accurate and more reflective of the truth and less stereotypical. American media, including print journalism, has relied on stereotypes of Latinos. If the goal is the truth, well, that certainly has not served the truth.”