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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Defend the Honor Protests PBS Newshour
Defend the Honor
October 31st, 2013
The forwarded message below is from our good friends at the National Institute for Latino Policy. Defend the Honor is distressed that PBS has treated veteran journalist Ray Suarez so disrespectfully. Please note that the PBS documentary American Latinos that aired last month is a separate issue. The real issue here is: How many Latinos - in front of and behind the camera - does PBS NewsHour employ? And more to the point, why does PBS think it can treat one of the country's best journalists this way? *There's something you can do about it. See below.
Note: Here is yet another response from PBS on why they pushed out Ray Suarez from the staff of the PBS NewsHour: apparently they did so because he was great and they loved him! I guess these people think that Latinos are stupid or they are calling Ray Suarez a liar! (read his side of the story here) As I read these ridiculous responses from PBS, it brings to mind an old Puerto Rican saying, "¡Allá ellos que son blancos y se entienden!"
We also include below another sampling of comments on this issue by members of The NiLP Network on Latino Issues, who are apparently not stupid!
If you haven't done so, please let PBS know how you feel about this outrageous treatment of one of the leading journalists in the Latino community and the country. Write or call:
Vivian En Su Casa La Conocen, PBS Audience Services:
Thank you for contacting PBS regarding your concerns.
For nearly fifteen years, Mr. Suarez was a highly respected member of the public media system, PBS and NEWSHOUR. PBS greatly admires his talent, journalistic integrity and constant pursuit of excellence. We are very sorry to lose him and his stellar work and we hope to work with him on future projects.
The decision to depart from the NEWSHOUR staff was entirely Mr. Suarez's. He was recently named Chief National Correspondent on the series and his contributions to the newscast will be deeply missed. We wish him the best of luck in his new ventures.
We were very proud to air LATINO AMERICANS, which was an important collaboration with Latino Public Broadcasting. The landmark series by Adriana Bosch is the first major television documentary series to chronicle the rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos. Mr. Suarez wrote the companion book for the series and was a dedicated champion of the documentary and the education initiative that accompanies it.
LATINO AMERICANS joins many other PBS projects that feature the talents of Latinos, both on-the-air and behind the camera. For example, on October 28 PBS premiered Bernardo Ruiz's "The Graduates/Los Graduados" on INDEPENDENT LENS. This two-part film examines the many roots of the Latino dropout crisis through the eyes of six inspiring young students who are part of an ongoing effort to increase graduation rates for a growing Latino population. The film can be streamed for free at pbs.org. The second episode will debut on November 4.
At PBS, we understand that a cornerstone of our mission is to serve our entire nation, and that we have an obligation to continually build the diversity of our schedule and staff. Our goal is to offer outstanding content that reflects and celebrates America and feels inclusive to all viewers.
We appreciate your interest in our work and hope you will continue to watch and enjoy programming on your local PBS station.
More Reactions from
The NiLP Network
Frank D. Gómez, Veteran Latino activist and a founder of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ):.
In the early eighties, I was on the board of directors of WETA, a PBS flagship station and the home of the NewsHour. At that time, a Hispanic friend produced a documentary about Salvadorans in the Washington, DC area. Salvadorans represented an important demographic shift in the nation's capital, a precursor to the rapid growth in the Latino population. The documentary spoke to their sacrifices, struggles, hard work and daily contributions to the comforts of others.
As a board member, I arranged for WETA producers to view the video, but they rejected it. Shame! That same lack of vision - and courage - plagues PBS and the NewsHour today. Ray Suárez is a treasure. PBS sees neither its value nor the 55 million Hispanics to whom PBS should appeal. After resigning from the board, I resolved not to contribute to PBS until its employees and its programming reflected the community of which I am a part. I am still waiting!
PBS, as all the networks, did not in a benevolent act include "Latinos" in their business in front and behind the camera. It was the selfless labor of the organization: THE NATINAL LATINO MEDIA COALITION, grouping south and north, across east to west that legally brought the networks to task, pushing them to give us the few slots we have today.
Unless Latinos organize and fight back we'll see less of Latino faces in positions of authority and prestige 'in front and behind the cameras. Latinos across the USA and the World fight back. Do it for "the children of tomorrow." The past won't stop us, but why wait? Make your voice heard now at PBS and WNET channel 13 New York. Support Ray Suarez. Not because he is of Latino origin but because he is a great journalist and paid his dues to be there.
Dr. Gilbert Sanchez, Retired Academic Administrator:
As a long-time supporter of PBS stations wherever we have lived, due to my positions as a senior academic administrator, e.g., Washington, D.C., NYC, Boston, San Jose, Los Angeles, Portland, etc., I was truly sorry to hear of Ray Suarez leaving the NewsHour. We always looked forward to his insights on his segments in which he was involved. His passion for reporting came through in the form of his sense of humor, respect for the topic and/or the individual involved.
I met Ray at a meeting in which we spoke with him about issues important to the Latino community and how NewsHour might bring them to the general public. His dedication to the values of PBS and his commitment to working with the other members of the "team" was very positive. It is too bad he was not considered for the extended weekend version of the NewsHour as he, in my opinion, could have continued making a great contribution.
The NewsHour has shown in the past that it was willing to be a beacon of enlightenment in having a representative on-camera team of the diversity of our country. With Ray no longer there I just don't see how you will fill that void. I am, to say the least, disappointed in this action, i.e., "his resignation". I encourage you to seek a solution to this problem of being and of continuing to be open and unbiased as to who reports the news on your program [The NewsHour] which many of us have supported for years.
The NewsHour needs to reach out to the fastest growing community, e.g., Latinos, for their viewership as well as for their monetary support. We can't allow NewsHour NOT to be part of the journalistic landscape. You have much to offer.
Perla de Leon, FOTOGRAFICA productions:
I read with great sadness about the resignation of Ray Suarez. For years I've been wishing someone would address PBS and their lack of diversity not only in reporters but more importantly in news stories. I have no stats to back this up but as a long time viewer, who didn't have cable TV for many years, PBS was a staple on my home. Thinking back to the thousandths of hours of dramatic programming, documentaries and news programs I've watched, it felt as though the Middle East took up 80% of all news programs, with English dramas and middle America documentaries and independent films filling the rest of their schedule.
As a public station that resides in a city that is practically 25% Latino, where are the reports and programs about Latinos, Latin and Central Americans and African Americans? If your organization has any stats on any of this I would be more than happy to spread the word to my fellow artists and filmmakers, many of whom had previously protested individual programs such as Ken Burns multimillion dollar documentary series that routinely exclude minority contributions.
Prof. Sherrie Baver, The City College of New York:
As a longtime devotee of PBS and The Newshour, I wanted to register my profound surprise and disappointment that Ray Suarez is leaving the program (not entirely by choice). Not only is Ray Suarez a first-rate journalist, but it is also a time in America when the growing Latino population needs much more coverage rather than less.
As always, thank you for your support.
Gus Chavez & Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Co-Founders, Defend the Honor Defend the Honor