Multicultural TV: Mainstream Coverage of Immigration Lacks

The mainstream media is off by a mile when it comes to covering immigration and other issues of vital importance to the Hispanic community, said a pair of prominent TV news personalities on the Multicultural TV Summit panel “The Role of News and its Impact on the 2014 Multicultural Vote” on Tuesday.

Despite enormous population growth in the U.S., Jose Diaz-Balart, Noticiero Telemundo news anchor and host of Enfoque con Jose Díaz-Balart, said the English language media continues to see the immigration issue as a case affecting them, not us. Over 11 million people are in the U.S. without documentation, he said, and 1,200 are deported daily. The news outlets are not grasping the full heft of the issue, he believes. “The community suffers,” Diaz-Balart says. “We serve a community that is injured on a daily basis.”

Rev. Al Sharpton, host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC, arrived late but wasted no time producing sharp sound bites that had the crowd applauding. He listed immigration, income equality and criminal justice equality as the primary issues faced by the multicultural community. Immigration, he said, “is a huge issue that’s not been properly dealt with…The mainstream media has gotten better, but it’s nowhere near where it should be.”

Sharpton mentioned the glaring lack of multiculturalism in the upper ranks of the business and media world when he was putting his National Action Network together years ago, likening it to the Rocky Mountains. “The higher you got, the whiter you got,” he quipped.

Mark Robichaux, Multichannel News editor-in-chief and author of John Malone bio Cable Cowboy, moderated the panel.

An animated Diaz-Balart mentioned his peevishness when newscasts illustrate a report on immigration legislation with video of illegal immigrants hopping over fences. He said Latinos deserve better representation after the strides they’ve made in the U.S. “Show me Wall Street!” he said. “Show me City Hall!”

Sharpton wrapped things up with a vision of a “New America” that sees people of all colors working for the common good. “We’ll build it together and protect it for all Americans,” he said to considerable applause.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.