Beverly Hills, CA — At the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) portion of the Television Critics Association (TCA) semi-annual national meeting, currently in session at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Mexico-born investigative journalist Maria Hinojosa (Need To Know) joins a panel of distinguished female PBS news hounds – Judy Woodruff (PBS Newshour), Gwen Ifill (Washington Week) and Raney Aronson (Frontline) – to discuss PBS’s coverage of the upcoming 2012 national elections. Hinojosa is particularly buzzed about the PBS news special, America by the Numbers: Clarkston, Georgia, hosted by Hinojosa and produced by her Futuro Media Group, airing Sep 21 (8:30-9:00pm, check local listings).
Hinojosa affirms, “This is the first time that I know of that a primetime public affairs special is being executive produced and anchored by a Latina and I think that’s a really wonderful thing for PBS to welcome. I’ve been to 49 of the 50 states, so I understand that our world, our America is not this kind of cookie cutter where everyone thinks the same. I meet incredibly complex stories of people all across this country; so we already know it by the numbers that our country is not the America that it used to be. So when we go in deep, when we’re able to devote a full half hour in one place, it turns out Clarkston, Georgia is, by the numbers, one of the places that is the most statistically diverse in our country. Who would have thought it?”
Raised in Chicago, Hinojosa was educated at Barnard College where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Latin American studies. She has been a fixture on public broadcasting – both TV and radio – for 25 years. In April 2010, she launched The Futuro Media Group, “with the mission to produce multi-platform, community-based journalism that respects and celebrates the cultural richness of the American experience.” On radio, she is the anchor and managing editor of NPR’s Latina USA. On TV, Hinojosa is a contributing correspondent on PBS’s Need To Know, and anchor of Emmy-winning talk show, Maria Hinojosa: One-on-One.
While her fellow PBS distaff journalists on the TCA panel discuss a broad range of upcoming election issues that cover the panorama of subjects that will be confronting voters leading up to the November elections, Hinojosa is fixated by how many of these issues can be distilled within the populace of this Southern town with a current population of 7,899, many of them refugees.
“The stories were awe-inspiring in their diversity,” she avows. “We relate the story of this Somali refugee who survived a massacre, who’s been in the United States three years, who loves Obama but can’t vote, and is best friends with the Tea Party Republican woman who is running for city council. The Somali refugee becomes her campaign manager and gets her elected. Or, there is the black mayor, who, when he came from Pennsylvania to Clarkston, Georgia, 40 years ago, he had the Ku Klux Klan picketing on his doorstep. Forty years later he’s the first black mayor. He’s best friends with a white guy who used to go to KKK rallies at Stone Mountain, but is a Juilliard trained saxophone player. He’s 84 and hates the refugees. And the black mayor didn’t like the refugees either, but now he’s got a Vietnamese girlfriend.”
Hinojosa affirms that the undertone of all the journalistic probing is the basic question, “How do they vote, and what do they think about politics?” Making a sweeping gesture to include all the women journalists on the panel, she declares, “I think all of our work is about getting people to be engaged ultimately in our democracy.”