Nat’l Hispanic Media Coalition: U-T’s lay-off decisions “very damnable”
This past Friday, San Diego’s cultural elite took San Diego Union-Tribune editor Jeff Light to task at a public discussion in La Jolla for laying off Robert Pincus, the paper’s longtime art critic.
Now, a national organization dedicated to advancing Latinos in the media is preparing to rip into Light for another personnel decision: The elimination of Ruben Navarrette Jr., who was a columnist for the paper and a member of the U-T‘s editorial board.
Navarrette was one of more than 30 editorial staffers laid off in recent weeks as the paper restructures itself under Light’s lead. The syndicated columnist was the sole Latino on the editorial board and well-regarded for his expertise on immigration issues.
In an e-mail forwarded to subscribers of two immigrants-rights mailing lists in San Diego, a representative of the National Hispanic Media Coalition wrote:
NHMC is interested in working with local people in San Diego on behalf of Ruben Navarrette…. NHMC is a media watchdog with the mission of increasing diversity in media. We support Ruben and are in touch with him. Let me know if you are able to put us in touch with a group of local leaders that we can work with.
In a telephone interview with CityBeat, NHMC president and CEO Alex Nogales confirmed that the group is organizing a response to Navarrette’s termination and will soon request a meeting with Light.
The way this was done, letting go of Ruben and letting go of several other Latino reporters, causes us great concern…. As I understand it, it was based on a poll of subscribers on what subjects interested them the most and [it] showed that immigration, for this readership, was way down at the bottom. I understand as well that the readership and subscribership is mostly white and older than the median….
If we’re going to be doing stories based on a poll, that is not good journalism. The credibility suffers. If, in fact, this is true, it is very damnable and really shoots the Fourth Estate in the foot, arm and the entire body because they’re not doing their job.
We e-mailed Light about Nogales’ statement. Here’s Light’s response, is his signature no-caps style:
i don’t think i have had any conversations with this group, which i think would be a good idea. i would of course be glad to speak with alex, who i know to be a smart, engaging and highly accomplished person.
i don’t think it is fair to anyone involved to debate these personnel issues in public. as i have already said, we’re not changing our editorial position on immigration. we are currently recruiting for the immigration beat job in the newsroom.
Until the most recent round of layoffs, Leslie Berestein Rojas covered the border for the U-T. According to LAObserved.com, she was hired last week by KPCC 89.3-FM, a Pasadena-based public radio station, to blog on immigration and “emerging communities.”