“As Latinos drive population growth in the United States, they continue to navigate the ocean of information on what is happening in the world and their place in it,” Stephanie Valencia said in a statement reported by Forbes. “With minority media on the decline, now is the time to be investing in more resources to create content for Latinos by Latinos. Through the unique combination of creative content and new and existing media platforms to serve our community, we can embrace cultural pride and collectively empower Latinos.”
Valencia, cofounder of polling firm Equis Labs, will head the Latino Media Network (LMN) alongside Jess Morales Rocketto, who is political director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. The two raised tens of millions of dollars for the effort, and tapped investors and advisors including actor and activist Eva Longoria, Emmy-winning journalist María Elena Salinas, and Latina magazine founder Christy Haubegger.
WLRM reports that the deal must still be approved by the Federal Communications Commission, a process that could go into next year. But if given the thumbs up, the stations could reach as many as a third of the nation’s Latinos, the group told NBC News. “We believe in the power and reach of radio and it remains a main source of media for a significant number of our community,” Rocketto said in that report. “We hope to create relevant content for radio and other audio platforms with content that our community can trust and rely on.”
The Voto Latino and Media Matters effort announced earlier this year, Latino Anti-Disinformation Lab, has the media watchdog monitoring Spanish-language media, as well as internet groups and messaging apps, for misinformation, with Voto Latino tasked with speaking with the community. It came shortly before the March 2022 launch of Americano, a conservative outlet targeting Spanish speakers and headed by Michael Caputo, a disgraced official with the previous administration. Caputo was revealed to have celebrated blocking scientists from accurately reporting on the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“For those concerned about the disinformation problem harming Democrats’ chances with Hispanics, this is a Defcon 1 moment,” Miami-based pollster Fernand Amandi told NBC News during the conservative outlet’s launch. “We should worry,” adding that the “ultimate act of disinformation is to pretend that this is not a big problem.” José Alonso Muñoz, deputy communications director for United We Dream, said “there has never been a greater need for Democrats to invest in sustained outreach to Latino voters.”
WLRN reports that “talk show hosts at stations like Mambí labeled then-presidential candidate Joe Biden a ‘socialista’ who would turn the U.S. into a left-wing dictatorship like Venezuela’s.” Valencia told WLRN that while “[t]here are elements of Radio Mambí that are really important to preserve,” the sort of inflammatory lies made during the campaign could be a thing of the past. Could be, because like with any other reporting, there has to be constant vigilance.