As Covid ravages the country, Los Angeles Times columnist Jean Guerrero has seen firsthand how outrageous claims about treatment are being passed around Latino families by relatives on social media. His father posted it on YouTube.
Guerrero used the experience with his father to blast the spread of Covid misinformation among Latinos. May 2021 column in a prominent national newspaper.
But on Tuesday, Guerrero, the paper’s only Latina opinion columnist, received a layoff notice, one of many Hispanic and other journalists of color among 115 newsroom employees.
Guerrero said he was upset that he and others lost their jobs. But he is also worried about time.
The layoffs, along with thousands of others at news outlets last year and earlier this year, come in an election year filled with red flags about the uncertain state of democratic norms. warnings about the rise of disinformation.
Latino journalists were often the first to notice false rumors circulating in their own communities. In recent years, experts have focused on disinformation and disinformation specifically in Latin America and Spanish speakers on topics such as Jovid as well as climate related issues and politics, including imigration. A 2021 Nielsen study found Latin Americans consume more and share misinformation.
Former President Donald Trump, who dominated the GOP primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, continued to claim that the 2020 election was stolen and promoted a bogus conspiracy theory that Indian-American Nikki Haley was not born in the United States. Born in South Carolina.
Trump said that migrants coming to the United States are “poisoning the blood” of the country, repeating Adolf Hitler’s rhetoric. It was condemned by those who indicated that the gunman who killed 23 people used such expressions. In 2019, an El Paso, Texas, Walmart referred to an “occupation”. reported on immigrants and said he was targeting “Mexicans,” according to authorities.
“Trump is driving anti-Latino hatred back into the White House, and instead of fighting back, news organizations across the country are eliminating the only Latino voices in the national media landscape,” Guerrero told NBC News.
Latino journalists have long been underrepresented in mainstream American newsrooms. As the Hispanic population grew to 62 million nationally, influencing everything from culture to religion to politics, the industry seemed to accept their exclusion.
According to a statement released by the LA Times caucuses, or internal groups for Latinos and other journalists of color, the layoffs affect 38% of the Times’ Latino caucus members and gut De Los staff dedicated to covering Latinos in the newspaper’s digital vertical.
Eliminating ‘trusted votes’
Maria Teresa Kumar, who helped found the Anti-Latino Disinformation Lab in 2021 to fight misinformation, said what the Times is doing is removing many of the “cultural experts” a city like Los Angeles needs. Such journalists come from a society where the influence of misinformation is strong, creating weakness in the nation’s democracy.
“This is a loss in an election where there will be no policy debate. This election season will be all about communication and trust, and we believe that these messages will be delivered to us,” Kumar said. MSNBC contributor. “With the rabid disinformation and deep-seated fraud we expect, the absence of these trusted voices in newsrooms could tip the scales against democracy and democratic norms.”
According to the study, 22% of Latinos will vote in the first presidential election this year. United States. Three-quarters of them were born in the United States and will turn 18.
Because the LA Times fired journalists with little work experienceit meant many young Latinos who were hired amid a push for diversity after the killing of George Floyd received layoff notices.
The LA Times’ De Los vertical grounded young journalists’ views on social media and technology and became compelling, said Robert Hernandez, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
“The aging audience is dying, and if you want to stay relevant, you have to connect with these demographics and these audiences,” Hernandez said. “If you want to be here a long time, you have to play the long game and get them young and build a relationship with them.”
Hernandez said the LA Times is not the first to fire poll writers during an election. However, an uncertain time was chosen for this, he said. Politicians don’t resonate with voters, and Trump, one of the presidential candidates, does faced numerous indictments and criminal charges. President Joe Biden is also struggling tax related payments against his son.
“We’re at an important crossroads for our democracy and our country,” Hernandez said, “and we need quality reporters to report on elections and everyday issues that look at diverse perspectives and represent the multicultural reality of our communities.”
Journalism will always be needed, he added, because people will always have questions “and getting those answers is a full-time job.”
“But if you lay off workers who are more like the community, you don’t know what the need is,” Hernandez said. “It’s just a real, obvious disconnect.”