U.S. Media Clueless About Anything Mexican

Criticizing U.S. Media Reporting on Jenni Rivera’s Death

 By Elia Esparza

I found an article by OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano fascinating and gutsy for saying what many Latinos in communications should have said a long time ago. Equally, I found the follow up article by Josh Kun, a journalism professor at USC, just as interesting as he commented on Arrellano’s piece.

In Arrellano’s article, titled “Death of Jenni Rivera Proves—Again—How Clueless Los Angeles Times and MSM Continue to be About Mexican Anything,” criticized some of the largest news publications for not having an intrest in reporting on  “mega-superstar” Rivera until the tragedy that took her life occurred. Although, Rivera has been a huge star both among the U.S. Latino community and internationally, building her brand that seemed to have Midas touch, that included a music career, product line, TV and film, however mainstream media seemed oblivious.

An excerpt from Arellano’s story is:

The media requests for me to opine on the death of Mexican regional superstar (and Long Beach) gal Jenni Rivera are already coming in, and I expect them to only increase as the American media trips over themselves to cover the story. After all, I’m America’s Mexican, right? I’m more than happy to take them, if only to help the MSM correct their pathetic record on reporting on a mega-superstar that operated in plain sight under a media that, like usual, didn’t bother to pay attention while she was alive because she was a Mexican and popular mostly to Mexicans—and they never matter unless you can get a diversity grant to cover them.

No media outlet is the bigger sinner, however, than the Los Angeles Times, the perpetual pendejos when covering Latinos in Southern California. A look through the Proquest archives show that they never did a single full profile on Rivera—not once. The only full stories on her were two—one was a story on a reality show involving her youngest daughter. Another—of all things!—was a real-estate story on Rivera purchasing a multimillion-dollar estate in Encino. Before her death, there were only two other shorter stories, both by freelancers: a concert review, and a record review.

Josh Kun states:

Arellano also pointed to similar criticism made by Univision’s lead anchor Jorge Ramos.

“The English media doesn’t understand the TV coverage in Spanish of the death of [Puerto Rican boxer] Macho Camacho and Jenni Rivera…that’s why their ratings fall,” Ramos tweeted on Sunday evening.

Ramos may have actually been alluding to the lack of coverage on English language media on Sunday.

Why has the U.S. media been clueless? In a country where Latinos make up a fast-growing share of the population, consumer market and electorate, the sudden death of a California-born songstress, famous for her distinctly Mexican-style music amounts to big, mainstream news. With the recent impact Latino voters made on the 2012 presidential elections and now after the death of a Latino icon, are non-Latino Americans finally getting it?

“It’s really amazing because I have seen it on the front page of every newspaper I have seen today,” said Federico Subervi, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Media and Markets at Texas State University. “It’s a recognition that Latino popular culture is important and influential in this country.”

What do you think? Post your comments.



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Elia Esparza is a leading expert in communications and journalism targeting the burgeoning Hispanic market and has produced and written dozens of articles. President and CEO of Always Evolving PR and a Communications Specialist, Elia, incorporates her 18 years experience in the areas of entertainment and education public relations, and marketing. promotions, market research and translations (Eng/Span).

2 thoughts on “U.S. Media Clueless About Anything Mexican

  • December 12, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Main stream media has historically ignored the Latino community, unless it involved crime, drugs, gang warfare and, most recently, the so-called “Illegal Immigration” imbroglio that has the predominate community scratching its xenophobic armpits these last few years. Maybe they were hoping that by not acknowledging the more than significant (and historical) contribution Latinos (especially Mexican Americans in the southwest) have made to the building foundation of the strongest and richest country in the world, lo these past 250 years.
    Maybe the predominate community was hoping that if they ignored Latinos long enough by excluding them from radio, television, movies and other media, they would eventually get the hint they are not a significant group in the “Americanism” ideology that has predominated the cultural fabric of these United States of America. Maybe (they hoped) Latinos (especially Mexican Americans) would go back where they came from. As Mitt Romney stated during his miserably failed campaign for President, “They should deport themselves back to Mexico.
    News media (especially print entities like the Los Angeles Times) failed to recognize not only the growth of this community, but the fact there some pretty intelligent Mexicans have penetrated this media medium, and are having an impact they never expected. Like most media, they failed to realize the impact of the Internet, which is responsible for much of traditional media impending funeral. They also have overlooked the fact the Latinos are now the leading group on social media and that Latino/a bloggers are bursting on the scene like locust on the communication wheat fields of America. Some of the brightest, intelligent Mexican American minds are telling their stories on every subject known to mankind, not just publishing new ways to make mole and chile verde.
    The emerging force of Latinos on the Internet cannot be curtailed nor controlled like media gatekeepers have in the past. Border Patrol forces have no power in that arena!
    Mexican(s) were in the southwest (and America) before Jones, Smith, Robinson, and Washington arrived, and they will be here in greater numbers than ever before.
    Bottom line, as my friend Xavier Hermosillo stated while he was conducting a talk show on KABC-AM Radio about fifteen years ago, “Wake Up America, and smell the refried beans.”

    • December 12, 2012 at 5:33 PM

      Amen to that Joe!

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