Opinion: Jorge Ramos’ Inability to Separate Journalism and Activism


May 10, 2024




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(RIVERSIDE, Cal. )— Anyone who watches Univision’s Spanish channel knows who Jorge Ramos is. His reputation as a Mexican news anchor and his work at Univision over the last four decades is exemplary. Since 1987, Ramos has delivered impartial information about widespread social problems — such as violence, poverty, and political corruption — in Latin countries.

However, Donald Trump’s provocative comments against Mexican immigrants in 2015 caused Ramos to take a defensive stance in favor of Latino immigrants. He engaged in heated altercations with Trump on national television resulting in the former president barring Ramos and Univision from press conferences. Ramos urged his Hispanic audience to get involved with politics and immigration policies, arguably blurring the line between journalism and advocacy.

“We will build a great wall along the border, we don’t need more Mexican immigrants in this country. They are rapists and criminals,” said Trump, on the day he delivered his immigration policy speech before a crowd of 4,500 people in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2015.

As expected, Latino communities did not receive Trump’s statements well. Leslie Sanchez, a senior political pundit affiliated with the Republican party, tweeted that one of Trump’s close advisors expected half of his Hispanic advisory board to resign after hearing the anti-immigration speech. 

Ramos argued that the Latino population has consistently been underrepresented in the American media. “Neither ABC nor any other American network will take a position when it comes to immigration issues. In contrast, in Univision, we are pro-immigrant,” he said in a 2015  interview with The New Yorker.

“There’s no question that Ramos is important and has a lot of influence, but I think that people now have sort of recognized that he’s more of an advocate than a journalist,” said Sean Spicer, a former White House Press Secretary. 

In 2015, Trump assembled the media in Iowa where Ramos was among dozens of reporters who attended the political event. Trump answered all the reporters’ questions but ignored Ramos, who, without waiting his turn to speak, asked numerous questions about Trump’s rigorous immigration policies. Trump, without responding, kicked Ramos out of the room.

Janell Ross, a political reporter for The Washington Post, called Ramos a crusading journalist: “Jorge Ramos is part journalist and part activist, and he does not deny it.”

In 2015, The Washington Post reporter Michael E. Miller wrote in the Morning Mix blog that Ramos is just as problematic as Trump — calling him a “conflictive junkie.”

Ramos, the head of Univision’s news department since 2021, became symbolic with the voice of Latino immigrants. “We have almost no political representation, we’re a minor community,” he told The New Yorker

In 2020, close to the presidential election in the U.S., Ramos published an essay called They Don’t Listen To Us,” a callback to the confrontation that Ramos had with Trump in Iowa back in 2015. Ramos declared that Trump’s hostility foreshadowed the discrimination that Latino immigrants were facing in the country. In response to Trump’s attacks, Ramos and Univision created campaigns that encouraged the Latino community to vote during the general elections, for the first time.

The Upland Statistics and Software Center reported that Univision drove more than 200,000 Latino voter registrations during the Clinton and Trump elections. “Mr. Ramos is the voice of the Latino constituency and that’s where Republicans have to worry, you don’t want to lose Jorge Ramos,” said Matthew Dowd, a campaign adviser to George W. Bush.

Although Ramos’ advocacy as a journalist can be threatening to the Republican Party and its anti-immigrant policies, Ramos is often perceived as an advocate due to the open admission of his biases. “When it comes to exposing misuse of power, impartiality is not an option,” said Ramos, implying that his journalistic work is significantly influenced by advocacy.

The Society of Professional Journalists Ethics Code stipulates that political activism should be avoided when the reporter covers an assignment dealing with politics. When talking about immigrants in the news, Ramos uses pronouns like ‘we’ or ‘us,’ injecting himself and his political view into the problems faced by the Hispanic community.

Even though  Ramos’ advocacy may have a positive effect on the Latino immigrant community in the United States, his work does not adhere to the codes of ethics of professional journalists. His inability to separate his investment in the subject makes his work predictable and untrustworthy.

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