The Absence of Voice

When a story is told, the perspective of the writer is not always taken into consideration by those reading or listening to the story. Although a source may be credible, the person behind the words does not always have the direct or personal vision on the topic discussed. Immigration is a popular theme in the media and yet, the people it affects the most, Latinos, are not the ones discussing it or writing the articles about it. White, non-Hispanic journalists wrote a whopping 98.2 percent front page articles this year in major U.S. newspapers, according to data compiled by Fourth Estate, a group that tracks information about media. This needs to change.

We are all aware of the importance of having a voice. Journalism is a way for individuals to go out and write about topics that occur around the country and the world. But readers are limited because the articles are written by people that fall under certain categories that do not necessarily have a connection with the theme discussed. When reading about the issue of Latino immigration, immigrants want their stories to be told by people who understand the challenges they go through as immigrants: other Latino immigrants or a Latino journalist. It is uncommon to have someone on the inside writing about the issue of immigration.

Those who are currently writing immigrants’ news stories are not necessarily failing at their job. However, it would be better to have more diversity in the world of journalism. The accuracy of the information presented may improve if the writer has some personal experience or cultural connections with the topic. Additionally, controversy over the use of certain discourse may be avoided. Critics have pointed to lack of diversity in newsrooms as part of the reason behind the mass media’s continued use of the term “illegal immigrant”– an expression that nearly half of the Hispanic population finds offensive, according to a Fox News Latino poll released this year.

The Latino voice needs to be heard. It is important to have “experts” in a topic such as immigration so that misconceptions are not made when they communicate messages that touch the delicate theme of immigration. The truth has to be told, many immigrants cannot express their sufferings themselves so by having journalists who are willing to say the story from the immigrants’ perspective is already an advance towards having a voice for those who cannot have one.

3 responses to “The Absence of Voice

  1. Your mentioning of the term “illegal immigrant” as one that offends a majority of the Hispanic population reminds me of what has become a colloquial and loose usage of the word “Caucasian” to refer to white people. I cringe each time I hear someone use the term when speaking about the white race or any person with fair skin; I have even heard the word being absurdly used to describe the “American” people. I believe it is a significant issue because the label has lost its scientific and historical meaning–which refers to the people of the Caucasus mountain region and was later used by German philosopher, Christoph Meiners, to describe the more attractive or better looking race based solely on physical appearance [facial characteristics and skin color]. The term “Caucasian” implicitly denotes racism towards the races who are not of fair or light skin, which is why I believe its use is just as offensive as terms like “illegal” and “alien.”
    Just something to look into or think about. Let us make an effort to be conscious of the terms we use and how we use them when attempting to categorize a group of people.

  2. I never thought about that! I completely agree that there should be more diversity in the field because perspective actually makes a huge difference. I think this applies to news from all over the world. One story can mean something completely different depending on the perspective from which it is being told. I’d always considered this when reading articles about places outside the U.S., but I never thought about news from within our own community. I wonder why it is that there are so few latino journalists talking about immigration, especially when it affects so many. Could it be that those stories are simply not being chosen?

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