The Voice of the Voiceless: A Profile of Jorge Ramos

(Univision News, 2015)

Jorge Ramos might not be a household name outside of the United States, but to many Americans of Hispanic origin, he has been called the Latino equivalent of Walter Cronkite. He, along with co-anchor Maria Elena Salinas, present the nightly news program Noticiero Univision. As the population of migrants from Latin America rises in the United States, so does their influence in everyday life. Jorge Ramos fosters media globalisation by bringing news from Latin America, and a Latin American perspective to US issues. He also wants to cater to Hispanic youths by presenting information via different forms of media. Ramos performs a fourth estate role by holding to account the relevant US leaders on the issues related to Hispanics, like immigration reform. While influential in the Spanish public sphere, he is still making inroads to be influential in the English public sphere.

BIOGRAPHY

(International Center for Journalists, 2016)
(International Center for Journalists, 2016)

Jorge Gilberto Ramos Ávalos was born on the 16th March 1958 in Mexico City (Ramos, n.d). He was raised in the suburbs of Mexico City in a Catholic family. He studied at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and graduated with a degree in communications (Martinez, 2008). After graduating, he worked for local station XEW-TV Televisa on their investigative journalism program 60 Minutos. However, that career was short-lived after he quit due to rampant government censorship (Martinez, 2008). Not satisfied with how his career stalled, Ramos took a risk and migrated to the United States in 1983. He sold his prized Volkswagen Beetle to finance his migration. He studied the University of California in Los Angeles. In 1984, Ramos was employed at Univision’s Los Angeles station, KMEX-TV (Martinez, 2008). Two years later, he was transferred to their flagship Miami station WLTV (Martinez, 2008). In the same year, Ramos was appointed as news anchor for the flagship network news program Noticiero Univision. He became the youngest person to host a national news program in the United States (Ramos, n.d.), a position he holds to this day.

ANALYSIS RATIONALE
Jorge Ramos stands out from his English-language counterparts because of his strong stance on immigration reform in the United States. It is an unwritten rule that network television journalists of his tenure are impartial. However, Jorge Ramos is not afraid to be an advocate for his point of view. It is his life story and passion for this issue that is the main point of interest in this analysis. As an immigrant myself, I want to pattern my journalistic style to Jorge Ramos. He is seen as the voice of the immigrants, something I want to strive to be as a person of Filipino origin. We share many cultural and historical links with Hispanics, and we also share the same struggles in migrating overseas for work. His courage to bring issues relevant to migrants such as immigration reform only inspire me to do the same thing.

MEDIA CONVERGENCE
For Jorge Ramos, media convergence doesn’t just relate to different form of media, but across cultural and language barriers. During a Moyer & Company (2012) interview, Ramos says their children don’t watch us because they’re more comfortable in English. Ramos also states that young Hispanics are breaking the rules of television because of their differing viewing habits (Aiderton, 2014). This is media fragmentation, or the “increase in the number of mass media and mass media outlets that have taken place during the past two decades (Turow 2009, p. 158)”. To try to cater to young Hispanics, a cable channel and web portal joint venture between Univision and the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) called Fusion was created. Ramos has a programme entitled America with Jorge Ramos on Fusion. He has a strong social media presence and is utilising the latest technologies to get his media across. In addition to his appearances on traditional media, Jorge Ramos constantly sends Twitter messages, posts updates on Facebook in Spanish and English and posts photos on Instagram. He also recently he has started using live-streaming technologies on Facebook (Ramos, 2016) . Ramos also publishes commentary and articles through Fusion’s website (Fusion, 2015). Turow (2009, p. 163) describes this as creating content that can be used and appreciated in different media. However, recent Nielsen ratings suggest that Fusion is still struggling to find its audience (Brooks and Barnes, 2015). While he has all the right tools to cater to young Hispanics, it’s yet to be seen if his effort will be rewarded.

Live at Facebook/ En vivo en Facebook

Posted by Jorge Ramos on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

(Jorge Ramos, 2016) | If video is not viewable in-context, click here to view.

GLOBALISATION
Globalisation is defined by David Held and Anthony McGrew (2002, p. 1) as “the expanding scale, growing magnitude, speeding up and deepening impact of transcontinental flows and patterns of social interaction.” According to the Pew Research Center, the number of migrants from Mexico exponentially rose from under a million people in the 1970s, to over twelve million in 2007 – a span of 37 years (Gonzalez-Barrera, 2015). This affected the demographics of the United States. In 2013, people of Hispanic origin overtook African-Americans as the largest minority in the US (United States Census Bureau, 2014). In addition, Spanish has become the most-spoken non-English language, with 37 million native speakers (Lopez and Gonzales-Berrera, 2013). Globalisation in the United States is not just exporting American culture, but also the rising influence of Hispanics in everyday America.

With this shift, the media landscape of the United States has also changed. Reese (2010, p. 344) says how globalisation can support new forms of journalism, which “create politically significant news spaces within social systems, lead to social change, and privilege certain forms of power”. Jorge Ramos was at the ‘right place at the right time’. He became the primary anchor to Univision’s news during the early tail of the migration trend in 1984 (Martinez, 2008), thus building a relationship with his community through showing Latin American news to his migrant audience (Martin, 2001). Ramos aims to do the same thing with next-generation Hispanics who speak English (Moyers & Company, 2012). On his Fusion show America with Jorge Ramos, he justifies this:

CONTRIBUTION TO THE FOURTH ESTATE
The Fourth Estate is an obligation by the press to “force governments and corporations at least to consider the public response to their actions (Hampton, 2009)”. Jorge Ramos is not intimidated to ask the questions on Hispanic issues to various US leaders. In an interview for the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, Ramos says that he has a responsibility as a journalist to speak for those who “do not have a voice” – undocumented migrants (Nieblas and Moreno, 2006). During the 2008 US Presidential Election, Jorge Ramos interviewed presidential candidates. On this platform, Barack Obama outlined his immigration reform policy, such as a path to legalising immigrant workers (Carter et al, 2008). This made him popular with the Hispanic vote (Pew Research Center, 2008). However, once Obama was elected, his administration oversaw the highest number of deportations in 20 years (Reuters, 2015) and caused an upset in the Hispanic community. Ramos brought this to the attention to President Obama in an interview last year (Univision Noticias, 2015), thus providing a check and balance in Hampton’s (2009) definition. Ramos also interviews various Latin American leaders (Ramos, n.d.) to provide a check and balance for expatriate diaspora who fled their country due to extenuating circumstances (Finnegan, 2015).


Jorge Ramos confronting Barack Obama on immigration reform in 2012. (Univision News, 2012)


Jorge Ramos questioning Barack Obama on immigration reform again in 2014. (Fusion, 2014)

INFLUENCE IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE
Garcia-Rios (2015) says that Jorge Ramos’ influence is so strong, it can make or break a presidential campaign – the “Jorge Ramos effect”. He actively encourages his community to vote (Garcia-Rios, 2015). As a result, according to the Pew Research Center (2012), an increasing number of Latinos voted for every elected US President since 1980. However, despite the amount of work by Ramos & Univision, it still remains a back-burner issue in English public forum (Amaya 2013, 70). The public sphere is the forum to debate and challenge issues (Calcutt and Hammond, 2011). Amaya (2013, 70) argues there is a cultural and linguistic difference between the Latino public sphere and the English “mainstream” public sphere. This disconnect can be contributed to the issue of immigration reform failing in the English public sphere. It could be argued Ramos’ efforts in the Hispanic public sphere is a case of “preaching to the converted.” Amaya (2013, p. 86) argues that the US media system is “dominated by capitalist and corporate concerns” and thus hampered the debate on immigration reform and Spanish language media being marginalised (Amaya 2013, p. 87). While Fusion is a step in the right direction in terms of increasing awareness amongst the English-language media, Ramos still has a long way to go to bring it to the forefront.


Jorge Ramos talking to WNYC New York Public Radio’s Brian Lehrer about the Republican and Democratic stances on immigration reform. (Fast Forward to 4:10) (Brian Lehrer, 2012)

CONCLUSION
Jorge Ramos is constantly evolving to the changes in the Latino demographic. While Ramos has become the most influential person in the Hispanic community (Martin, 2001) and helped influence election votes amongst Hispanics, his shift to English-language media has been a difficult road. The result of his use of social media and digital platforms to target young Hispanics is yet to be seen. As immigration reform is a hotly contested issue in recent presidential elections, young Hispanics could change the path for their community. Fusion, while being an excellent platform to reach Hispanic millennials, is not performing to expectations (Brooks and Barnes, 2015). Jorge Ramos, like in 1984, has all the resources at his feet to influence a new generation of Hispanics. Ramos can only hope that his message is reaching Hispanic millennials.

ACADEMIC REFERENCES
Aiderton, Matt. 2014. “Anchor and Activist: Jorge Ramos Uncensored.” Accessed 28 March 2016. http://hispanicexecutive.com/2014/jorge-ramos/

Amaya, Hector. 2013. “Nativism and the 2006 Pro-Immigration Reform Rallies.” In Citizenship Excess: Latino/as, Media and the Nation, 68-94. New York: NYU Press. Accessed 27 March 2015. http://QUT.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1182800.

Barnes, Brooks and Ravi Somaiya. 2015. “Fusion Media Aims at Millennials, but Struggles to Find Its Identity.” Accessed 28 March 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/business/media/fusion-media-aims-at-millennials-but-struggles-to-find-its-identity.html

Calcutt, Andrew and Phillip Hammond. 2011. “The Fragmenting Public.” In Journalism Studies: A Critcal Introduction, 149-168. Hoboken: Routledge.

Carter, Shan, Johnathan Ellis, Farhana Hossain and Alan McLean. 2008. “On the Issues: Immigration.” Accessed 28 March 2016. http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/president/issues/immigration.html

Flew, Terry. 2007. “Globalization and Global Media Corporations.” In Understanding Global Media, 66-97. Houndmill, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. Accessed 26 March 2015. https://blackboard.qut.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-6245249-dt-content-rid-5794256_1/xid-5794256_1.

Finnegan, William. 2015. “The Man Who Wouldn’t Sit Down.” Accessed 30 March 2016. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/05/the-man-who-wouldnt-sit-down

Fusion Awards. 2013. “America with Jorge Ramos: Series Premiere.” Accessed 13 March 2016. YouTube video, posted February 7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fykbNCbx7sE.

Garcia-Rios, Sergio. 2015. “Donald Trump and the Jorge Ramos effect.” Accessed 26 March 2016. http://time.com/4013713/donald-trump-and-the-jorge-ramos-effect/.

Gonzales-Barrera, Ana. 2015. “More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S.” Accessed 28 March 2016. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2015/11/19/more-mexicans-leaving-than-coming-to-the-u-s/

Gonzales-Barrera, Ana and Mark Hugo Lopez. 2013. “What is the future of Spanish in the United States?” Accessed 28 March 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/09/05/what-is-the-future-of-spanish-in-the-united-states/.

Hampton, Mark. 2009. “The fourth estate ideal in journalism history.” In The Routledge Companion to News and Journalism, edited by Stewart Allen, 3-12. Hoboken: Routledge.

Held, David and Anthony McGrew. 2007. “Introduction : current controversies about the demise of globalization”. In Globalization/anti-globalization : beyond the great divide. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Lopez, Mark Hugo and Paul Taylor. 2012. “Latino Voters in the 2012 Election.” Last modified 13 March 2016. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/11/07/latino-voters-in-the-2012-election/.

Martin, Lydia. 2001. “Jorge Ramos Making News.” Hispanic 14 (1/2): 62-66. Accessed 13 March 2016. http://search.proquest.com/docview/237009732?accountid=13380.

Martinez, Laura. 2008. “Jorge Ramos: Newsman of the Americas.” Accessed 13 March 2016. http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/news-articles/jorge-ramos-newsman-americas/74367.

Moyers & Company. 2012. “Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas on the Rise of Hispanic America.” Accessed 13 March 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAQooCuass8.

Nieblas, Nelly G. and Celina Moreno. 2006. “Twenty Years of Journalistic Justice: Interview with Univision Anchorman Jorge Ramos.” Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy 19 (1): 17-24. Accessed 13 March 2016. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.91.9666&rep=rep1&type=pdf. doi: 10.1.1.91.9666.

Pew Research Center. 2008. “Inside Obama’s Sweeping Victory.” Accessed 28 March 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org/2008/11/05/inside-obamas-sweeping-victory/.

Ramos, Jorge. n.d. “Jorge Ramos: Biography.” Accessed 13 March 2016. http://jorgeramos.com/en/biography/.

Ramos, Jorge. 2016. “Live on Facebook/En vivo en Facebook.” Accessed 30 March 2016. https://www.facebook.com/jorgeramosnews/videos/516589818527109/

Reese, Stephen D. 2010. “Journalism and Globalization.” Sociology Compass 4: 344-353. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9020.2010.00282.x.

Turow, Joseph. 2009. “A world of blurred media boundaries.” In Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Routledge.

United States Census Bureau. 2014. “Facts for Features: Hispanic Heritage Month 2014: Sept. 15–Oct. 15.” Accessed 28 March 2016. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2014/cb14-ff22.html.

Weprin, Alex. 2012. “Jorge Ramos: ‘the Walter Cronkite of Hispanic news’.” Accessed 13 March 2016. http://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/jorge-ramos-the-walter-cronkite-of-hispanic-news/130938.

MULTIMEDIA REFERENCES

Fusion. 2014. “President Obama spars with Jorge Ramos on Immigration.” Accessed 30 March 2016. YouTube video, posted December 9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO3BdYMCXzg

Fusion Awards. 2013. “America with Jorge Ramos: Series Premiere.” Accessed 13 March 2016. YouTube video, posted February 7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fykbNCbx7sE.

International Center for Journalists. 2016. “Picture of Jorge Ramos.” Accessed 2 April 2016. http://www.icfj.org/jorge-ramos

Lehrer, Brian. 2012. “Univision’s Jorge Ramos on ‘La Promesa de Obama’.” Accessed 30 March 2016. https://soundcloud.com/brian-lehrer-show/univisions-jorge-ramos-on-la

Ramos, Jorge. 2016. “Live on Facebook/En vivo en Facebook.” Accessed 30 March 2016. https://www.facebook.com/jorgeramosnews/videos/516589818527109/

Univision Noticias. 2012. “Meet the candidates with Barack Obama — You did not keep your promise.” Accessed 30 March 2016. YouTube video, posted September 20. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEy8b_ER_O8

Univision Noticias. 2015. “Jorge Ramos, uno de los más influyentes de Estados Unidos.” Accessed 28 March 2016. YouTube video, posted April 16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLev5-C712s

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