Not even one Latino.
In the city of Los Angeles, where around half the population is Latinx, the L.A. Times, the city’s newspaper of record, has failed to appoint even one single Latino to the publication’s Masthead – the list of managing editors who lead the various news departments.
The fact that this is happening in a place like Los Angeles, during a time like today, when Latinos represent the future of the American economy, and diversity and inclusion – especially among media – is a major issue.
Recently, the L.A. Times published an extensive mea culpa in the form of a series of articles under the title Our Reckoning With Racism, in which the publication recounts its own unfair and racist depictions featured in its news coverage from the past several decades.
Much of the publication’s recent self-flagellation comes off like a giant virtue signal, an empty gesture from the perspective of the city’s Latinx community. Why? Because it is the L.A. Times’ responsibility to accurately and fairly depict one of the country’s biggest metropolises, an area that happens to have more Latinos than any other in the world except for a handful of major Latin American cities. That cannot happen without Latinx inclusion at the top level. And if it is in the L.A. Times’ purview to call out discrimination, then it must adhere to its own stated standards, or be called out for its hypocrisy.
Now, while Latinos are increasingly present in the L.A. Times’ operational, human resources, and sales departments, it’s the editorial section of the company that demands Latinx integration and inclusion, because that is where the media narratives that affect our city are shaped. The fact that Latinos fall way short of adequately taking part in this newspaper’s editorial decision-making is a big problem that demands an immediate resolution.
An encouraging sign is that Latinx contributors at the L.A. Times are speaking up.
Esmeralda Bermudez, a features writer, tweeted: “Make no mistake. The L.A. Times has a long way to go to correct the ugliness of the past. Today, our masthead — the 14 leaders who make every major decision about our newsroom and coverage — does not include a single Latino. This is in L.A., where half the community is Latino.”
Earlier this year, the Latino Caucus, a group of over 80 Latinx staffers under the L.A. Times Guild – a union of writers, editors and reporters at the LA Times – published an open letter to the current executive Chairman, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, to demand better newsroom representation featuring the hashtag, #SomosLAT.
“For much of its history, the Los Angeles Times has covered the Latino community in dehumanizing ways, painting us as criminals or victims or simply ignoring us. The Times slurred Mexicans as ‘greasers’ and ‘wetbacks’ and immigrants without legal status as ‘border jumpers’ and ‘illegal aliens.’ It advocated for the invasion of Latin American countries, and vilified Central Americans as they sought refuge in Los Angeles during the exodus of the 1980s,” the Letter reads. “Today The Times continues to fail, in its staffing and coverage, to reflect a region where nearly one of every two residents is Latino. In doing so it has neglected to serve what should be its largest audience.”
“For decades, we’ve asked management to hire more of us, promote us and make us editors. But those calls have largely gone unanswered. Today, only 13% of The Times newsroom is Latino. Of 109 editors and managers, only 11% of them are Latino. The Times has only ever had three Latino masthead editors…Despite it all, The Times has a powerful history of achievement by Latino journalists.”
Read the rest of the letter HERE.
If readers then visit the L.A. Times Editorial Board home page, they can read the publication’s mission, which states:
“The editorial page strives to reflect the dynamism of Southern California. The region’s iconic status as global entertainment capital, its entrepreneurial spirit and its extraordinary cultural diversity are among its distinguishing strengths.”
Apparently, that mission statement about reflecting and promoting the city’s “extraordinary cultural diversity” does not include Latinos, or else the L.A. Times would have one in its editorial leadership.
The full list of editorial staff heads is below. The absence of any Hispanic surnames, all while keeping in mind this staff list is for the daily newspaper of Los Angeles, CA, is jarring.
Editorial Department MASTHEAD:
Then visit their editorial board page. This is the group that together, and in consensus, decides on the L.A. Times editorials on public policy and official endorsements. In other words, these are the people who tell you who and what to vote for.
Hold the presses, we found a Hispanic name. Mariel Garza is half-Mexican on her father’s side. So if you are keeping count. Between the heads of the editorial department Masthead and the members of the editorial board, Latinos have 0.5 out of 23 positions.
The L.A. Times owes the Latinx community and its own staff an explanation.
In a follow up piece, (LINK HERE) we speak to an L.A. Times contributor, Gustavo Arellano, about how the Latino Caucus and Latinx staffers feel about this issue, and what the Latinx community in Los Angeles can do about this.