Last month, journalist Maria Hinojosa was generous enough with her time to let us interview her about being a Latina in media. In case you missed the first part of her interview, you can still read the post Meet Media Maker Maria Hinojosa on our site.
At some point, you may have heard or seen Maria on National Public Radio’s Latino USA, CNN or PBS Frontline. I am excited to share this interview with you is because Maria is a media trailblazer opening doors for the next generation of Latinas in media.
A decade ago, if you had asked me to name Latinas in Chicago media I would probably have shrugged and not have been able to name any. Today, I’m happy to say that I’m noticing more Latinas in media telling stories using a variety of platforms ranging from print, radio to blogging. This week we are happy share part two of our interview with Maria Hinojosa. If you enjoy the interview let us know or please share it to your networks on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin.
DP: What was the moment you realized you were going to be a journalist?
MH: I think it was when I got hired at National Public Radio in 1985 and being the first Latina hired to work at a network. Probably six months into that when I realized I’m at these editorial meetings and I’m coming up with ideas and people like what I’m saying and I’m producing this stuff yeah I think I can do this and that really was the moment when I said I need to have my own voice because at the point I was producing for other people and when I realized I wanted to be a journalist and could be I also Around that time when I realized I needed to own my own voice and tell my own stories.
DP: What are your tips for emerging Latinas in media?
MH: They should trust their voices, not give up and find their elders and mentors because they will need them but more than anything. I want them to honor and hold on to their experience as Americans, immigrants, and Latinas because this is in fact one of these crucial moments where how we define ourselves and who defines us is so important. I also want them to keep on believing that they have the power, words and tools to define themselves and to tell these stories.
DP: What role has mentorship played in your life and how has it impacted you?
MH: Well I wouldn’t say I’ve had an actual mentor. Maybe, I wish I would have. I didn’t find the right person to be a “mentor.” What I do have are elders, some are Latinas and some aren’t, who have come before me and who I turn to for support. I take very seriously the notion of what a mentor is and the role that requires and consistency and I haven’t really had that officially. What I’ve had is “sistahs” who’ve been there for me and who are there to pick me up when times are bad and who allow me to understand historical context.
Without them I could not do it there’s no doubt about that because there are lots of ups and lots of downs. You have to have people who have a cool head and see the forest through the woods. I’m a little jealous of younger women who can actually have mentors because there wasn’t anyone doing this for me. I was the first Latina at NPR, CNN and just five years ago the first Latina correspondent on PBS and just recently the first Latina to anchor Frontline. Even now, I’m still trying to break through because there haven’t been many Latinas who I could turn to and say guide the way. This is why I take the role of mentoring so seriously and imparting information and experience to young Latinas as often and authentically as I can.
DP: What trends are you seeing in terms of women and media?
MH: I think it’s another one of these moments where there is struggle around media because more women are stepping forward in the mainstream media or outside of the mainstream media pushing to have these stories told. We are kind of building our own space both within the mainstream media and outside of it. The reason why I sound hesitant, is because while we are doing amazing things like websites and information but at the same time we are still in the process of this shift where more of the mainstream media needs to understand that reporting on gender issues really matters but I don’t think a lot of the mainstream media sees it that way. Like with Latinos we are in the same kind of space it’s a struggle right now it’s not an easy one and there is resistance because everything in our country right now is changing.
DP: Do you think Latinos continue to be invisible in media, politics and different sectors despite the increase in population released by the U.S. Census?
MH: Unfortunately yes, but that is our challenge for the next decade. It’s really important to understand at what point do we stop being invisible? I was giving a speech to educators and we were at a downtown hotel at a breakfast and I said to them “you know the people you walked by as they cleaned your room or served us breakfast and you didn’t really look at them, well all of their kids are the ones going to your community colleges so actually you really need to see them and need to talk to them and understand who they are because they are here. There’s that part of it and I think the other part of it is Latinos themselves need have to be willing themselves to see other Latinos and they have to be able to put other Latinos forward and point out the ones that are invisible and not be afraid to say those kinds of things.
DP: Final thoughts you would like to share?
MH: We really have to support each other as Latinas and find ways to do it in small or big ways because we really need each other. I also think that we have to be the spirit of hope because we have a tendency to be very blue but what we don’t’ recognize is that we can also be very hopeful and joyous. in the midst of the struggle coming in the next decade we must find the joy because it’s something we should be happily adding to the mix of this country.
Follow Maria on Twitter @Maria_Hinojosa
Keep the conversation going and tell us what you thought of this interview with Maria by posting in the comments section.
This project is supported by the Local Reporting Awards