January 29, 2014
By Robert Schoon

Last November, NBC announced it was going to shut down NBC Latino, the Latino-focused news site that only launched in the summer of 2012. Early in 2014, NBC quietly closed NBC Latino’s offices, but Latino journalists and opinion writers have had many things to say about it.


NBC Latino, the website, is still up and accessible, but NBC says it will incorporate whatever NBC Latino material is still being produced into the larger NBCNews.com, as well as redirecting users to the larger site. The move is being made in tandem with the 2014 redesign of the NBC News website.

An anonymous NBC spokesperson told MediaBistro that the re-incorporation will “allow its content to reach a much larger audience and it will further enhance NBC News’s commitment and ability to cover news and issues that matter to the Latino community.” So on Friday, Jan. 18, NBC Latino was shut down and four of the seven staffers for the site were let go. The others were reassigned.


So what do Latino journalists think about the shutdown? Was it just an experiment, or is the shutdown a big blow for Latino journalism? Did NBC just create NBC Latino because it felt like it needed to compete with Fox News Latino?

One of the strongest reactions came from Adrian Carrasquillo, former NBC Latino journalist who now works at Buzzfeed, where his piece, “Why would a major network cut back on Latino news?” ran last week.

In it, Carrasquillo states, “Latino journalists in the newsroom is not some bullshit exercise on a diversity checklist, but an acknowledgement that the newsroom should reflect the country, the people you are writing about, the audience … a newsroom can’t afford to be cut off culturally from a huge piece of American life in the 21st century.” Carrasquillo thinks NBC Latino failed partly because it “needed to be better appreciated and taken more seriously inside the building,” and partly because “a failure, at times, to grasp what people care about on the internet,” a jab at NBC’s legacy newsroom status.

Marisa Treviño, writing for Latina Lista, said that incorporating NBC Latino back into the larger, more popular NBC News site for more exposure is beside the point: “The trouble is no one understood, nor continues to understand, that a site focused on Latinos means Latinos, in essence, control the conversation. As someone who was among the first to enter the online news space for Latino-centric content, I know how different editorial decisions are made in an environment that is focused on one demographic. The only time the issue of balance in content comes up is when deciding on how many stories to post featuring politics, lifestyle, health, etc. versus how many stories with a Latino slant can be posted before it’s perceived that the site is catering to one group over another.”

Others were more circumspect in their reactions, criticizing NBC for throwing in the towel and essentially making Latino coverage less of a priority, but also accepting the realities of the 21st century newsroom.

Hugo Balta, President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) said he met privately with officials from NBC, where he used to work, and shared his criticism of the move. Saying he agreed with many of Carrasquillo’s points, he also mentioned that “the realities of business models, corporate priorities, and strategies have an effect on any operation.” Balta also pointed out that NBC Latino may have pigeonholed itself, mentioning that a Latino news site for English-speaking Latinos should include general news:

“Research shows that Latinos are not looking to have the spot light on them. What they want is to be included in the conversation. What they want is to be reflected in the content (journalists, experts, central characters, decision makers). That’s not to say there isn’t a place for stand-alone vehicles produced by Latinos for Latinos. But when you’re specifically targeting English dominant Latinos; they prefer to be part of the larger conversation.”

It’s an idea that shapes LatinPost’s diverse staff and coverage, actually: that a mix of Latino-focused features should always go with mainstream news, viral content, and generally entertaining stories, since the identities and interests of Latinos are not simply shaped by one aspect. Angélica Pérez-Litwin of NewLatina.net put it best in her personal reaction to NBC Latino’s closure:

“As a Latina born in this country… mainstream media is MY media of preference… A media platform or channel constructed around one aspect of my multifaceted life does not appeal to me, at all… Show me a media platform with smart content; that addresses those issues that I’m passionate about; that reports on interests and issues that matter to me; and is written and produced by a group of diverse and talented individuals, including Latinos – and I’ll sign up immediately.”

Source: http://www.hispanictrending.net/2014/01/nbc-latino-shutting-down-reactions-from-latino-journalists-and-columnists.html