It’s Time to Teach Latino in America

Now we understand why it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to staff blog with DAILY posts.  I pledged last Saturday to try posting daily for one week.    Already, since Sunday, two days have passed without a post.

I guess the best thing to do is post on something on which you’re working that day– at least you’re using the blog to augment your already hectic busy day.

Today we’re preparing to teach our unit on Latino in America, which was both a documentary and a new book, both released last October.

Students in my Communication and Diversity course will hold two days of discussions about the book.  Then on the third day, we will screen a 45-minute excerpt from the 4-hour documentary.

Some like  the blog Ponte Al Dia have questioned the real motives in The Time Warner network producing Latino in America, especially after the tactics of former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs.

They called it CNN’s “lame bid for Hispanic audience.”

But, elsewhere I’ve read positive comments from those who felt the October 2009 documentary finally told their story.

Of course, CNN’s microsite tied to its documentary remains live online.

What about the book?

The obvious question is why read the book when you can watch it on TV?

Well, the chapters in the book correspond with the stories in the documentary.

The book was co-written by O’Brien and CNN Senior Producer Rose Marie Arce, who has a background in TV news– having worked at CBS flagship WCBS in New York.

I think it’s beneficial to better understand the issues that are brought out in the stories that the producers depicted in the long-form news presentation.

MY Goals For Reading the book

If I were to identify three goals from an instructor’s vantagepoint, they would be:

  1. To see how the printed medium (the book) handles issues that the broadcast or moving images cannot
  2. To get behind the camera to see through the eyes of the producer what the INTENT of those who cast the media text (NOTE: In media research, often scholars who analyze a text are not at all concerned with the intent of those who produced it.  They are merely presented in  a scholarly “reading” of the text)
  3. To see a structure or framework in the documentary that helps illuminates or communicates diversity in its broadest definition

Those are my broader objectives.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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