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The Obama Bias In Hispanic Media: How Conservatives Can Reach Latinos

Senator Rand Paul and L. Brent Bozell at the launch of MRC Latino (Photo: A. Chafuen)

Conservative organizations and free-market think tanks continue to try and reach the growing Latino population. The Media Research Center (MRC), the conservative content analysis organization, recently entered the market with the MRC Latino project. Ken Oliver-Méndez, director of MRC Latino, described the results of their first study by reporting, “what we found is a pronounced leftward tilt in both networks’ reporting, particularly in coverage of U.S. domestic news. As it stands now, Democratic, left-leaning sources consistently dominate the narrative in these networks’ coverage of domestic issues. On the international front, however, both networks did a better job of maintaining a critical or balanced stance, as is the journalistic norm.”

Promoting free enterprise in the Latino community through the main TV networks is a difficult task. Univision and Telemundo show a strong bias in favor of the policies of President Obama. In the case of Obamacare, there was a 5 to 1 bias in the news reporting in favor of the law. At a recent program highlighting the MRC study, its founder and president Brent Bozell placed some of the blame outside the networks: “The conservative movement needs to make a stronger effort to constructively engage with Spanish-language media, and the networks must allow all major sides of a debate to speak in news stories, not just voices that management and staff may sympathize with.” It takes two to tango. Producers for Hispanic media also state that it is difficult for them to find conservative free market voices.

MRC’s focus on Obamacare is understandable. A few weeks ago, the Pew Research Center released a new survey showing that support for the law was eroding among Hispanics. Writing for Pew, Jens Manuel Krogstad and Seth Motel state, “today, as many Hispanics approve as disapprove (47 percent to 47 percent) of the new health care law.” Six months ago, the Hispanic approval rate was 61 percent. Krogstad and Motel continue saying, “During the same time period, Obama’s job approval rating has slipped 15 points among Hispanics.” His approval ratings among Hispanics are down from 63 percent in September 2013 to 48 percent in March. To put this in perspective, Obama’s approval ratings in the general public were 44 percent approval and 41 percent approval of Obamacare during the same time period.

Think tanks paint a clear picture. Research by think tanks help one to understand how government policies affect Latinos. Robert Graboyes, of Mercatus, and Mario Villareal, of the Institute for Humane Studies, explained how Medicaid is failing Hispanics. The piece appeared first in the “USAHispanic,” a new online newspaper.

The fastest growing conservative free market outreach effort today is the Libre Initative. It tripled its Twitter followers in one year, passing 5,000. Libre is going beyond traditional think tank work and is developing a multi-faceted strategy focusing on the matters that are of daily concern for Latinos including: jobs, immigration and prayer. Libre is gaining ground on the much older, and more established, National Council of La Raza which has over 30,000 Twitter followers. La Raza was founded in 1968 and has a budget of approximately $40 million.

Increased globalization and new technologies also provide new ways of reaching Hispanics. Most immigrants today remain connected to their native countries through various social media platforms. They can even watch their favorite sporting events and TV programs online. Technology has helped fuel some improvements in news coverage, as MRC reported, “Univision and Telemundo provided heavy coverage of the unrest in Venezuela, and their coverage of Venezuela’s socialist government was decidedly critical.” U.S. Latinos can follow the Twitter feeds and blogs of several free-market think tanks in Latin America.

Goldwater Institute in Arizona was one of the first think tanks to launch an effort to reach Latinos, and the first to realize that translating their publications into Spanish was not enough. After studying the impact of its 2007 Hispanic website, the institute found that it was not a good use of resources to translate its material into Spanish. The institute’s primary audience is policymakers, and they do their work in English. Darcy Olsen, president of Goldwater stated, “Most of Arizona’s Spanish language papers are focused on bread and butter issues, not policy, so it didn’t make sense to continue. However, for grassroots or groups who work directly with first generation immigrants, translating is no doubt essential.”

Champions of free markets need to continue their efforts to understand the way in which diverse segments of the Latino community receive news and analysis. They also need to try to reach the very diverse Hispanic community at different levels with convincing messages that a free economy is the best road to prosperity. But words will need to be accompanied by action and engagement at the community level, not so much by think tanks, but by churches, clubs, and support groups.



Depression Rates Is High Among New Latino Fathers, Study Finds

Paternal Depression Latino.jpg

While there is a large body of literature available about postpartum depression in new mothers, a recent study has found that men – particularly new Hispanic fathers - suffer from paternal depression during the first five years of parenthood as well.

Symptoms of depression among new fathers increased 68 percent during the first years of their child’s life and most significant rates of depression occurred in fathers around 25 years old who lived with their children, a study from the journal Pediatrics found.

“There’s been a significant body of literature describing the effect of mother's depression on child development, and the health care system has tried to rise to the challenge of identifying mothers with depression,” said Craig Garfield, lead author of the study. “Fathers have not been on the radar screen until recently. Now we know that … right around the time of the birth is an important time to try and capture and screen those dads.”

Other research into the issue found that depressed fathers were more likely to use physical punishment on their children, read and interact with them less and are more likely to be stressed and neglect their children.

The issue of depression is particularly worrying among Latino fathers because they face a number of issues that their non-Hispanic counterparts don’t, such as a lack of Spanish-speaking care providers and limited clinical data on Hispanics and mental health. Besides this, there are more common issues such as a stigma against mental health treatment, high costs of care and lack of insurance coverage, limited transportation and limited outreach programs.

“The next question is why are there these differences and how can we avoid making a one-size-fits-all approach to paternal depression and actually tailor something to fit individual needs?” Garfield said of the racial disparities in his study.

Some researchers said that it is not surprising that fathers also suffer from depression following the birth of a new child as the transition into parenthood is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.

“Young children require an enormous amount of care, and it can be stressful to juggle parenting, work, extra housework, all while getting less sleep,” Lisa Harvey, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, told The Town Talk. “Having a child can also cause financial strain and difficulties in the couple’s relationship. All of these things can put parents at risk for becoming depressed.”


Why has the ‘Cesar Chavez’ film failed?

While promoting his “Cesar Chavez” film two weeks before its opening last month, director Diego Luna received a rude awakening when he plowed into the streets of Austin, Texas, to ask Latinos passing by if they knew who the legendary farm labor leader was.

The Mexican actor was stunned to learn that most of those whom he asked had no clue about Chavez.

That was an important and pivotal key to the film’s success – and why it has so utterly failed at the box office.

The disappointing $4.6 million earnings the first two weeks of “Cesar Chavez” obviously has come as a shocking eye-opener for its filmmakers and Hollywood, where its success could have resulted in more projects aimed at Latino moviegoers.

In its third weekend, the Chavez film all but disappeared and now faces a challenge in covering its $10 milllion budget.

Latinos were crucial as moviegoers, and they apparently failed to support the film. Attendance at the theaters did not even come close to reflecting the numbers the film’s producers expected.

A 2013 Nielsen report found that Latinos go to the movies in disproportionately high numbers. They make up 16 percent of the U.S. population, but they bought 25 percent of the movie tickets sold in 2012.

There’s also history with films about Latino icons doing well financially.

 “La Bamba,” the film about 1950′s rocker Ritchie Valens, grossed $54 million in 1987, while “Selena”  a movie about a slain Tejana singer raked in $35 million in 1997, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

Neither of those films had the White House screening and endorsement of “Cesar Chavez,” not to mention the increased Latino population or the internet’s potential wildfire word-of-mouth promotion.

What happened? How could a long-awaited film about the man generally considered the greatest Latino in American history, for whom schools, streets and buildings are named, honored almost religiously by the Kennedys and on postage stamps and holidays, likened to Martin Luther King Jr. – how could a film about him fail as it has?

Part of the answer may be in the incident at the trendy South by Southwest Music Festival where Luna learned that Cesar Chavez, for all his fame and honors, hadn’t transcended into today’s pop culture influenced society, among Latinos.

For although many consider Chavez’s stature to be national in scope, the reality is apparently different, and the days in which he was national news — for his union’s strikes and secondary boycotts of grapes and then lettuce — are now four decades or more behind us.

Chavez also had nowhere near the success of organizing farm laborers in other states as he did in California, altogether giving up on that challenge in Texas, and he remains largely unknown among many there, even among Hispanics.

Another important aspect is that Chavez’s role as a civil rights leader may have been sentimentally exaggerated beyond his importance in labor activism and leadership, especially in the years after his death in 1993.

He was a labor leader, to be sure, but was he the Latino Martin Luther King Jr., who moved a nation to its moral conscience, known and followed by his own and others in major American cities as he was in the rural farm fields?

Although many often link him to it, the fact is that Cesar Chavez was not really a part of the Chicano movement that followed and imitated the black civil rights movement.

He was often in conflict with the leadership of the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s, even having a speaking invitation to La Raza Unida’s only national convention in 1972 rescinded because of his loyal ties to the Democratic Party.

Chavez also had problems with the Latino leadership within the Democratic Party of California where a bitter legislative fight in the early 1980′s caused a rift between Cesar and Latino political leaders that went on for years until his death.

The consensus among many in California was that Chavez had been essentially a rural Latino leader, popular among Hispanics in the cities but out of touch with urban issues facing the majority of Latinos.

Chavez’s reputation has also suffered in today’s fervor over immigration reform because of his early strong opposition on the issue when he feared that employers would use illegal laborers to break strikes. He did support the immigration reform bills of the 1980′s, and supporters have maintained that his stance today would be in support of immigrant’s rights.

Then there is the film itself, starring Michael Peña and Rosario Dawson, which has drawn criticism among some as “not being Chicano enough,” and among others as not having told the full story of Cesar Chavez.

In fairness to Luna and the film’s producers, however, biopics aren’t biographies, and even the arguably great ones – like Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” – capture only a slice of the subject’s life.

Ultimately, the fate of “Cesar Chavez” and its legacy may be one like that of the labor leader himself – an unfinished struggle against incredible odds.



Latino College Completion Rates Low Despite Enrollment

Image: Graduating students listen to U.S. President Obama speak during commencement at the University of Michigan

Low rates of Latino college completion persist in states with high numbers of Hispanics, despite an narrowing of the gap in the graduation rates of traditional Latino and non-white Latino college students, according to a report released Tuesday.

The gap dropped to 9 percent in 2014 from 14 percent in 2012 among those who entered college as first time, full-time undergraduates, according to the report released Tuesday by Excelencia in Education.

But it's a different story when part-time students, which account for almost half of Hispanic students, are included. In California, home to the largest number of the country's Hispanics, only 15 percent of Latino students completed their undergraduate degree or certificate in the year 2010-11. In Texas, the number was 17 percent.

"It is an area of concern," said the report's main author, Deborah Santiago. "We have to focus on the institutions that are not just enrolling but graduating our students," she added.

Low rates of college completion - especially at the community college level- do not just affect Hispanics. The difference is that in most states, there is still a very big gap between the number of Hispanic adults holding a degree compared to the rest of the population.

At East Los Angeles College in California, about 24,000 Latino students enrolled in the year 2011-12, but only about 1,000 completed their Associate Degree that year. And although California has the highest number of Latinos, not one of its colleges were in the top five institutions awarding associate or bachelor's degrees to Latinos.

Low rates of college completion - especially at the community college level- do not just affect Hispanics. In Texas, when part-time students are taken into account, only 18 percent of non-Latino whites obtained a degree in 2010-11 academic year.

The difference is that in most states, there is still a very big gap between the number of Hispanic adults holding a degree compared to the rest of the population. Nationally, only twenty percent of Latino adults have a postsecondary degree, compared to 36 percent of all U.S. adults. In California, only 16 percent of Latino adults over 25 have an associate or bachelor's degree, compared to 38 percent of all adults in that age group. In Texas, it's 16 percent of Hispanics who hold a degree, compared to 32 percent of total adults those ages.

At the same time, more and more Hispanic children are entering the nation's schools. In California, Hispanic students make up over half of the K-12 population; in Texas, it's about half. At the national level, 22 percent of children in K-12 are Hispanic.

"We have an amazing opportunity to address how to better serve Latino students," said Santiago.

Some schools are showing a good track record, Santiago points out. Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, for example, ranked fourth in the state in enrolling Latinos, yet ranked second in awarding associate degrees. The University of Central Florida ranked fifth in enrolling Hispanics in that state but ranked second in bachelor's degrees awarded to Latinos.

The top five institutions awarding associate and bachelor's degrees to Hispanic students in the year 2011-2012 were in Florida, Texas and Arizona, but they also included the for-profit University of Phoenix-Online.

In order, Miami Dade College, whose student body is 67 percent Hispanic, and El Paso Community College, 86 percent Hispanic, topped the list for awarding Associate degrees, followed by the University of Phoenix-Online, South Texas College and Valencia College in Florida.

For Bachelor degrees, the top 5 were Florida International University, whose student body is 63 percent Latino, followed by the University of Phoenix-Online, The University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Texas-Pan American and Arizona State University.

Some schools are showing a good track record, Santiago points out. Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, for example, ranked fourth in the state in enrolling Latinos, yet ranked second in awarding associate degrees.

In its state-by-state as well as Puerto Rico and District of Columbia data, Excelencia in Education report includes a list of "What Works" programs from its Growing What Works database, aimed at showcasing specific programs which are increasing Latino college completion.

"We remain focused on the fact that for the U.S. to regain the top ranking in the world for college degree attainment, Latinos will need to earn 5.5 million more degrees by 2020," said in a statement Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education.


America’s Status As A Democratic Society 'Seriously Threatened'

U.S. Policies Favor The Wealthy, Interest Groups, Study Shows


U.S. government policies reflect the desires of the wealthy and interest groups more than the average citizen, according to researchers at Princeton University and Northwestern University.

"[W]e believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened," write Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page in an April 9 article posted on the Princeton website and scheduled for fall publication in the journal Perspectives on Politics.

Gilens and Page analyzed 1,779 policy issues from 1981 to 2002 and compared changes to the preferences of median-income Americans, the top-earning 10 percent, and organized interest groups and industries.

"Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all," the researchers write in the article titled, "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens."

Affluent Americans, however, "have a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy," Gilens and Page write. Organized interest groups also "have a large, positive, highly significant impact upon public policy."

The research supports the theories of Economic Elite Domination, which says policy outcomes are influenced by those with wealth who often own businesses, and Biased Pluralism, which says policy outcomes "tend to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations."

"The estimated impact of average citizens’ preferences drops precipitously, to a non-significant, near-zero level," the researchers write. "Clearly the median citizen or 'median voter' at the heart of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy does not do well when put up against economic elites and organized interest groups."

The study found that average citizens and the wealthy often seek the same policy changes. As Gawker notes, the researchers say this is a mere coincidence, noting the average American's interests will be represented if they are in line with the interests of the wealthy.

Interest groups would seemingly represent the interests of the average citizen -- and some do, the study says. But, "all mass-based groups taken together simply do not add up, in aggregate, to good representatives of the citizenry as a whole," researchers write.






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