To be sure, there is still a long way to go for Latinos to have fair representation on network television and for that to show up in coverage. But recent hiring of Latino journalists at the news divisions of all three networks seem to be pointing in the right direction.
It has been four years since NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams welcomed Miguel Almaguer as a Southern California-based correspondent to that network’s news team in 2009. Since his hiring, Gabe Gutierrez has also been hired as an Atlanta-based correspondent at that network.
At ABC News, Cecilia Vega has been a Los Angeles-based correspondent since 2011.
And at CBS News, Manuel Bojorquez has been a Dallas-based correspondent for almost one year.
All of them graduated from college in the 1990s or early 2000s and represent the next wave of Latino English-language network news personalities.
Young Latino journalists making the change
For Almaguer, his big break came because he attended a National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ convention.“The network first learned of my work thru NAHJ. I was at the convention in San Jose, California when I was a reporter at KCRA in Sacramento and I showed my work to the folks at the NBC booth. The networking opportunity allowed me to meet decision makers and contacts on-site immediately. The conference was instrumental in the network learning more about my work,” he says.
As for Vega, “Complete luck (on my part). Our VP of Talent Development happened to be in San Francisco and saw one of my stories on KGO (when I was working as a local news reporter). And the rest as they say…”, she says.
Vega’s story is particularly unique, since she is one of those rare journalists to have transitioned from newspaper reporting to the broadcast news industry. She had been covering the city hall beat for the San Francisco Chronicle before being hired by the ABC owned-and-operated TV station in that city.
She’s found herself venturing far from city hall since then. “I’ve covered a presidential election in Mexico, the inauguration of Barack Obama.” She adds, ” I’ve interviewed celebrities and politicians. I’ve been to the Olympics in London, to Australia and the US-Mexico border. I’ve pet whales in Baja and dove in a submarine to the bottom of the Arctic. This week, I’m jumping on a flight to Italy for Pope coverage. I am always surprised at how wide ranging my assignments are… I truly believe I have one of the best jobs in the world.”
As recently as this week, both Almaguer and Bojorquez were covering the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion in the West, Texas area. He tries to bring a unique perspective to his news coverage. “I think our network has always strive to cover different types of stories – including immigration and other Latino issues that historically see little press. Could the network – could every network – strive to do better? Of course. But I think a diverse staff, including the addition of myself and other Latinos, raises awareness of the importance of Latino issues,” says Almaguer.
When it comes to having a diverse news staff and how that could play a role in network news coverage, Vega agrees. She says “There certainly are Latinos in producer ranks and in senior positions, but we, as an industry, have a long, long, long way to go before our newsrooms reflect the diversity of the communities we cover.”
But outside of immigration, the concern is that Latinos be included in all aspects of news because Latinos are involved in all aspects of life in the United States. Almaguer says; “As a correspondent its my duty to raise issues that hit home for Latinos. We’ll always bring a unique perspective to those important issues. “ He adds, “It’s also, however, important for me to cover national stories that are simply making headlines for the day. As important as my voice is for our community – its equally important to have a Latino – and other minorities be the correspondent on the ground covering the “big story” of the day. People take note of reporters who are on the air often and we should strive to make sure they see a diverse face when that happens.”
Vega is hopeful for the future, especially when it comes to the stories that she hopes to cover. “I would love to tackle some of the complicated stories about immigration, families and lives on both sides of the border. That’s on my list of things to do for 2013.”
Almaguer, Bojorquez, Gutierrez and Vega join the likes of John Quiñones of ABC News and Natalie Morales, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and Carl Quintanilla at NBC News, who are both bilingual and have been at the network level for the past several years.
No doubt the influx of more Latinos who you do not seen on the air on network newscasts will bring about more of a difference in news coverage. The producers. The videographers. The news writers.
Eleanore Vega (no relation to Cecilia) is the West Coast bureau chief for CBS News. If this wave continues to roll, don’t be surprised if English-language network news takes on more of a “Latin flavor.”
Originally published on VOXXI as The wave of young Latino journalists in network news