New York--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 panel “The Role of News and its Impact on the 2014 Multicultural Vote” at the Multicultural TV Summit here Tuesday.
Despite enormous population growth in the U.S., Jose Diaz-Balart, anchor at Telemundo, 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. “The community suffers,” Diaz-Balart said. “We serve a community that is injured on a daily basis.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton 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.”
The host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC, 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.