Journalists and journalism institutions are rethinking how they center the needs and desires of communities of color.
But there is still a long history of disinvestment and harm that newsrooms must address to repair their relationships with Latino/a/x, Black and Indigenous communities.
Here in Colorado, that history has found new light in recent weeks. Journalist Lori Lizarraga reported in a column that over the past year, TV station 9News let go three Latina reporters, including herself, and the management ignored the concerns of Latino/a/x journalists. Meanwhile, Denver Post employees made public calls to action for their newsroom to improve its policies and interactions concerning marginalized communities. These public instances of organizing and radical truth-telling are not isolated instances, anomalies or confined to one or two newsrooms. These events exist in a long history of Latino/a/x Coloradans struggling and resisting against media institutions that did not allow them to be portrayed in their wholeness.
That’s why on April 9, News Voices: Colorado, Colorado Media Project and the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab) hosted Latinx Voices: The Past as Prologue. It was a conversation moderated by Tina Griego, editor, reporter and coach with COLab, with guests Polly Baca — COLab board member, Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, media champion and first woman of color elected to the Colorado State Senate — and Nita Gonzales, a nationally recognized activist, educator and civil-rights leader.
Nita and Polly shared stories and examples of the harms of caricature, demonization and erasure, resistance to those harms and what still needs to change. Here’s what we learned from our distinguished guests and small-group breakout sessions.
- This struggle is not new.
- People are weary and frustrated.
- These systems are not built for people of color to succeed.
- Connecting with communities is critical to creating authentic and reflective coverage.
- There is power where there are people. We need sustained movement and action to see the changes we want.