Home » Latino journalist layoffs threaten coverage of disinformation targeting Hispanics

Latino journalist layoffs threaten coverage of disinformation targeting Hispanics

by NBC News

As Covid ravaged the country, Los Angeles Times opinion writer Jean Guerrero saw firsthand how outrageous claims of cures on social media were being passed around Latino families by relatives. Her father had sent her one on YouTube.

Guerrero used the experience with her father to blast the spread of Covid disinformation among Latinos in a May 2021 column in the prominent national newspaper.

But on Tuesday, Guerrero, the newspaper’s only Latina opinion columnist, got a layoff notice, one of the many Hispanic and other journalists of color among the 115 newsroom staffers that the outlet chopped.

Guerrero said she’s unhappy that she and others have lost their jobs. But she’s also concerned about the timing.

The layoffs, along with thousands of others at news outlets last year and the beginning of this year, are happening in an election year full of red flags on the precarious state of democratic norms and amid warnings of a rise in disinformation.

Latino journalists have often been the first to point out false rumors circulating in their own communities. In recent years, experts have flagged misinformation and disinformation specifically targeting Latinos and Spanish speakers on topics such as Covid as well as climate-related issues and politics, including immigration. A 2021 Nielsen study found Latinos are more likely to consume and share misinformation.

Former President Donald Trump, who has dominated the GOP primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, has continued to falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen and promoted a false conspiracy theory that Nikki Haley, who is Indian American, was not born in the U.S. She was born in South Carolina.

Trump said migrants coming to the U.S. are “poisoning the blood” of the country, echoing the rhetoric of Adolf Hitler. This kind of language has been decried by those who point out that the gunman who killed 23 people at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart in 2019 cited an “invasion” of immigrants and said he was targeting…

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