An open letter published Tuesday by Latino employees of the Los Angeles Times and allies is calling on the management of the newspaper to create a newsroom that accurately represents the community it serves.
“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 letter starts. “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.”
“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,” the letter added.
The letter was signed by members of the L.A. Times Guild’s Latino Caucus, other Latino staffers who are not guild members and the L.A. Times Guild’s Black Caucus.
According to the letter, “only 13% of The Times newsroom is Latino” and “of 109 editors and managers, only 11% of them are Latino.” Census data from 2019 noted that Los Angeles’ Latino population is close to 49%.
Inspired by the formation of the L.A. Times Guild’s Black Caucus, the Latino Caucus’ letter listed a series of 14 demands to the newspaper’s management team, which include a sepcific plan to hire and promote more Latinos in the newsroom, especially for those departments that have no Latino staffers or just one Latino staffer. The letter also asked for the newspaper to “formally apologize for fomenting episodes of anti-Latino hysteria in California and the United States.”
A #SomosLAT hashtag shared other insights about the open letter:
It’s a special day at the @latimes. Nearly 80 Latino staffers sent a letter to our bosses demanding that our newspaper truly reflect our community, which is half Latino. We’ve formed the @LATLatinoCaucus to speak up and push for change. To read: https://t.co/2rS9KDDf4A #SomosLAT pic.twitter.com/Uqk0JtRzoI
— Esmeralda Bermudez (@BermudezWrites) July 21, 2020
Did you know the @latimes has 0 Latino reporters on its investigations team despite L.A. being nearly 50% Latino? The @LATLatinoCaucus demands Latino representation in all LAT sections, particularly those tasked with protecting the vulnerable. #SomosLAT https://t.co/h8re435HMc pic.twitter.com/H7ziqBeqTz
— Paloma Esquivel (@palomaesquivel) July 21, 2020
— Daniel Hernandez ✍?? (@longdrivesouth) July 21, 2020
Did you know in nearly a decade, the @latimes has hosted more than 250 fellows & interns, but only 10 spots have gone to Cal State students? 43% of Cal State students are Latino. The @LATLatinoCaucus demands that the @latimes invest in local Latino journalism students. #SomosLAT
— Vanessa Martínez (@VanessaMartinez) July 21, 2020
Did you know that 40% of L.A. County residents speak Spanish at home? The @LATLatinoCaucus demands that the @latimes elevate our Spanish coverage and nurture the voices of our @latimesespanol staff. #SomosLAT https://t.co/KtOpMgJZ3R pic.twitter.com/0wwaPAa0EF
— Tony Barboza (@tonybarboza) July 21, 2020
Nearly 50% of L.A. County is Latino. But Latinos account for 13% of the L.A. Times newsroom. The @latimes will not succeed until journalists reflect the communities we chronicle, so today we’re asking for change. #SomosLAT https://t.co/45W05fbr5F pic.twitter.com/UFMgm7zgoB
— Melissa Gomez (@MelissaGomez004) July 21, 2020
The full open letter is here.