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Univision & Disney Launching English News Channel For Latinos

By Fidel Martinez

This is an interesting development. According to various news outlets, Univision and The Walt Disney Company– owners of the ABC network and one of the largest content producers in the world– are in talks to develop a 24-hour news network that will target the ever-growing Latino audience. Oh yeah, and it will be entirely in English.

Whether this will be successful venture or not is really difficult to predict– no real details as to what type of content they’ll be featuring has surfaced– though “experts” are already having differing opinions.

On the one hand, National Council of La Raza’s Jorge Plasencia thinks that this could be a huge hit because it would fill in a niche that’s being underserved. He cites the existence of outlets like The Huffington Post Latino Voices as an example of large media companies trying to service this demographic.

And then there’s University of Southern California journalism and public policy professor Roberto Suro, who thinks that attracting the English-speaking Latino audience is not as easy as people might believe:

“This is a very broad population segment, and the question is, “what is the identity? Is it heavily Hispanic, all about news about Latinos? Or is it who delivers the news? It’s an elusive brand.”

We’re an elusive brand indeed because, despite what White America believes, we’re not a homogenous group. Even the so-called experts fall into this trap. Take a look at NBC Latino’s splash page:

“The new voice for American Hispanics?” That’s both presumptuous and way off base. Glancing at their homepage, I saw two stories out of ten or so that marginally appealed to me. For this particular Latino, they’re doing a piss poor job at speaking for me, and I’d even bet that such would also be the case for Hispanic adults between the ages of 18-29 demographic (a demo that by 2015, will constitute 65% of the Latino population in this country).

And, believe it or not, not every Latino voter has immigration reform/passage of the DREAM Act high on their list. Someone who we follow on Twitter made this point across and I agree. Cuban-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and some second- and third-generation Mexican-Americans aren’t preoccupied by these issues.

What does the above rant have to do with the Univision-Disney news network? A lot, actually. Given what I’ve already seen, it’ll probably be a half-assed attempt that will cover the same topics ad nauseam without adding anything new. But, hey, I hope I’m wrong.


Fidel Martinez is Managing Editor of Tu Vez.

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