May 2010

In this issue:

  • President’s Message
  • Washington D.C Update
  • Immigrants in America: A Hollywood Perspective
  • NHMC Engages Immigration Experts on Media Policy
  • NHMC Writers Program
  • FCC: Mobile Minutes Made Simple
  • NBC: Writers on the Verge
  • Hispanic Scholaship Fund Gets $150,000
  • NHMC Welcomes Intern

President’s Message

Arizona’s recent passage of SB 1070 is spurring controversy and causing some to go so far as to urge that "all good patriots" should "protect themselves against the dangerous invaders" and "lock and load." Unfortunately, this type of rhetoric, which repulses most people regardless of their feelings towards immigration, is growing all too common on new and old media alike. NHMC has been tracking hate speech against Latinos and other vulnerable groups for several years now. In January of 2009, prompted by an FBI-documented 40% increase in hate crimes against Latinos, we filed a petition for inquiry on hate speech in media with the Federal Communications Commission. Our petition urges the FCC to examine the extent and effects of hate speech in media, including the likely link between hate speech and hate crimes, and to explore non-regulatory ways to counteract its negative impacts. For over a year now, the FCC has failed to address NHMC’s concerns on this very serious and important issue. In the mean time, countless people have suffered violent, and sometimes deadly hate crimes. Hate, extremism and misinformation have been on the rise, and even more so in the past few weeks as some around the nation have spread hate through media in response to Arizona’s passage of one of the harshest pieces of anti-Latino legislation in this country’s history. On May 6th Juan Varela was killed by his neighbor in Phoenix, AZ, reportedly due to the tensions surrounding SB 1070. To address the mounting hostility facing the Latino community, earlier this month NHMC filed comments in the FCC’s proceeding on the Future of Media and Information Needs of Communities in the Digital Age. Joined by thirty-two national and regional organizations from throughout the country, we reiterated the need for the FCC to act on our petition. NHMC’s comments explain how the current media landscape is a safe haven for hate and extremism. People do not have the information they want and need to meaningfully engage in our democracy, and this shortage of information is exacerbated by the vast media consolidation that has unfolded over the past two decades. Studies show that media consolidation diminishes ownership opportunities for people of color and leads to less diversity of voices; this yields a media in which people of color are under and misrepresented. As traditional media have become less diverse and less competitive, they have also grown less responsible and less responsive to the communities that they are supposed to serve. In this same atmosphere hate speech thrives, as hate has developed as a profit-model for syndicated radio programs and cable television masquerading as "news." Although the Internet gives the illusion that news sources have increased, in fact there are fewer journalists employed now than before its inception. Moreover, on the Internet, speakers can hide in the cloak of anonymity, emboldened to say things that they may not say in the public eye. Even worse, sometimes anonymous Internet speakers hold their information out as news, leaving the public with the difficult job of discerning fact from fiction. For these reasons, NHMC and its allies urge that as the Commission deliberates how the public interest will be served in the digital age, that it consider the extent of hate speech in media, and its effects on our safety and democracy. Our comment can be read at NHMC et al.’s Comments on the Future of Media, and our petition at NHMC’s Petition for Inquiry on Hate Speech in Media. Please join our cause by becoming a Facebook fan of NHMC and "20,000 Strong Against Hate Speech in Media." Find us on Facebook.

Washington D.C Update

Over the past couple of months, NHMC has filed a two comments at the Federal Communications Commission, detailing why an open Internet is important for the Latino community, and particularly Latino small businesses and content creators (those comments are available here and here). Traditional media, such as television and radio, have largely underrepresented and/or stereotyped our community for far too long, and the Internet is the one place where we can respond to vitriolic anti-Latino rhetoric, and tell our own stories fairly and accurately. This has been particularly crucial over the past few weeks, as many of us who care about civil and human rights have used the Internet to organize against Arizona’s SB 1070 and have shared video clips of local rallies and events to increase awareness around the country of the outcry in Arizona. For these reasons, NHMC supports the FCC’s recent proposal to assert its authority to oversee broadband connections. We believe that the FCC Chairman was very careful and measured in his approach and that this will not – as some claim – result in unnecessary or burdensome regulations. On the contrary, this move is necessary for the FCC to be able to implement many of the important sections in its National Broadband Plan that will help extend broadband service to the poorest people in this country, including the many Latinos that currently cannot afford to connect to the Internet. This week NHMC learned that there are several letters circulating in Congress that could harm the FCC’s efforts to this end. We sent an e-mail to all CHC offices, urging Members of Congress to use caution when deciding whether or not to sign on to these letters. The impact of these letters is far greater than stifling the network neutrality proceeding at the FCC – indeed, they could directly harm the FCC’s current efforts to extend broadband to some of the neediest people in this country. NHMC also supported a letter drafted by Congressman Jay Inslee, that will protect and foster an open and affordable Internet for everyone. Click here to read our Media Policy Watch Update.

Immigrants in America: A Hollywood Perspective

NHMC partnered with the Opportunity Agenda who put together a panel event of prominent Hollywood players and immigration advocates at The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles. The panel took place on May 3rd and featured a discussion of the challenges in telling accurate, compelling immigrant stories in movies and television. Panel participants included Bruce Evans, Senior Vice President of Drama Programming of NBC; Jesse Garcia, Actor in Quinceañera; Leon Ichasa, Screenwriter and Director; Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda; Nick Schenk, Writer of Gran Torino; Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles; Bee Vang, Actor in Gran Torino; and Ligiah Villalobos, Screenwriter of Under the Same Moon. The panel was moderated by Professor and film critic Emanuel Levy. The panelists all acknowledged the need for a greater diversity of immigrant stories in popular media. However also noted the challenge for the entertainment industry since many people watch television for entertainment purposes rather than to confront complex issues. Evans said, "If they feel like that box (television) is lecturing them, they’ll simply turn it off." Vang shared personal stories of instances when people didn’t think he was "American" and further asked where he came from. Although he was born in Fresno, CA, he had to explain that his parents are Hmong and immigrated to this country. To which people respond, "Oh that makes more sense." All agreed that Hollywood has a vital role to play in changing the perceptions of immigration, and telling stories that stress the inclusion of immigrants into the American fabric. The event concluded with a lively reception.

NHMC Engages Immigration Experts on Media Policy

For years NHMC has been working closely with the Media and Democracy Coalition (MADCO), a collaboration of over two dozen local and national organizations committed to amplifying the public’s voice in shaping media and telecommunications policy. NHMC’s Executive VP, Inez Gonzalez, is an outgoing Director of MADCO’s Board, and NHMC’s VP of Policy and Legal Affairs, Jessica Gonzalez, is an incoming Director. This month MADCO held its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., featuring a special session with advocates from the immigrant community. Inez played a key role in organizing and moderating a distinguished panel of national immigration policy advocates as well people who provide direct services in immigrant communities. The panel was a great success, providing MADCO’s team of media and telecommunications policy experts with insights into how they can better represent the distinct needs of immigrants. Congratulations to Inez for taking the lead on this outstanding event, and to MADCO Executive Director, Beth McConnell, for having the forethought to educate MADCO members of the work that those in other fields do towards social justice and equality.

NHMC Writers Program

NHMC and the National Latino Media Council proudly present the Fall 2010 Television Writers Program. The application submission period will be from June 14 – August 31. This program is not for beginners. It is for those writers who can write at least one half-hour comedy or one-hour dramatic television script in English within a five-week period of time. The program will take place in Burbank, CA from November 8th to December 10th. Each participant is expected to complete at least one script by the end of the five-week session, which will then be read by network executives. Those writers whose scripts show promise will be interviewed and mentored by the network executives with the idea of placing them on a show. A stipend of $250 per week will be given to each participant. Flight, housing, and meals will be provided. NHMC’s Television Writers Program is an intensive Scriptwriters Workshop to prepare and place Latinos in writing jobs for the major television networks. This project is modeled after our previously successful Hispanic Film Project. The Television Scriptwriters Workshop is designed to familiarize participants with the format, characters and storyline structure of specific shows that are currently on the air. This five-week, total immersion workshop is mentored/guided by a former NBC VP of Script Development, Geoff Harris. The workshop is conducted in Burbank, CA and a total of 10 writers are recruited nationwide from our established network of NHMC chapters, other non-profits agencies, schools, universities, writers, guilds and professional, media organizations. The expectation is that our writers will be employed in the industry. For more information click here.

FCC: Mobile Minutes Made Simple

The Federal Communications Commission Consumer and Intergovernmental Affairs Bureau released "Mobile Minutes Made Simple: Tips for Avoiding Bill Shock Now." It is an initiative to help consumers avoid high wireless bills. Click here to read the Tip Sheet.

NBC Writers on the Verge

NBC Entertainment Diversity Initiative is pleased to announce the 2010 submission dates for Writers on the Verge. It is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. The program will consist of two night classes, which will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays (7-10pm), weekly at NBC in Universal City, CA. Once accepted, students must attend all classes and turn in all written assignments.Classes concentrate on creating an exceptional spec script and understanding the dynamics of pitching oneself in the television industry Click here for more information. Submission Dates: May 26, 2010 – June 30, 2010

Hispanic Scholarship Fund gets $150,000…

Cheech Marin placed third in the "Jeopardy!" Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Tournament, winning a total of $150,000 for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF). It will help fund students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees in performing arts and entertainment. HSF is the nation’s leading Hispanic scholarship organization and provides support to Hispanic families and students through education workshops, scholarships, college retention and career opportunities. For more information on HSF and on scholarships available please click here.

NHMC Welcomes Media and Policy Intern

Santa Clara Law School student Monica Guzman joins NHMC for ten weeks as part of the Google Fellow summer program. She will be working on media and telecommunications policy in NHMC’s Washington, D.C. office. Bienvenida Monica!!]]>

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a woman-led 501(c)(3) non-profit civil and human rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism toward the Latino communities.
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