National Press Club

González, Torres say minorities feel marginalized by the news media

September 18, 2012 | By Jan King |

Juan González, left, and Joseph Torres speak at NPC book event

Juan González, left, and Joseph Torres speak at NPC book event

The two writers of a new book said at a National Press Club Book and Author event Sept. 17 that minorities including Hispanics and blacks feel marginalized and their accomplishments have been overlooked by the news media.

Juan González and Joseph Torres said their book, "News For All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media,'' arose from their own and other minority group's frustrations with inability of the press to give citizens the information they need.

The book is recently published months ago and was on the New York Times Best Seller list. The book covers governmnt and corporate leaders who built our segregated media system and depicts the struggle of black, Latino, Asian and Native American journalists.

González is a staff columnist for the New York Daily News and a two time winner of the George Polk Award for commentary. He is also the co-host of Democracy Now.

Joseph Torres is the senior advisor for government and external affairs for Free Press, the national media reform organization. He has worked as deputy director at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and was a journalist for several years.

González said the first American newspapers in colonial America devoted much of their space to discussing the threat from Native Americans or reporting about slave revolts. The book points out that historically, newspapers have fomented many instances of violence and riots in America.

Since those days, González said there have been technological revolutions that affected the press and reporting. The first was a 1792 U.S. Post Office decentralization that allowed diverse voices to be heard. The telegraph was next, as it offered instant communication. But in 1860, Western Union bought all of the telegraph companies, teamed up with The Associated Press and decided what news the country received. This was subsequently followed by the radio, cable, and most recently the Internet.

González said that in each step the government came to decide the ownership and make new rules. He and Torres said the question of the future will be: Who is going to own the news sites on the Internet and will they be fair to people of color?