Chicano Leader Takes “U-T San Diego” to Task for Negative Reporting of Chicano Community

by on April 8, 2015 · 2 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, History, Media, Politics, San Diego

Herman Baca

Herman Baca, President of Committee on Chicano Rights.

Open Letter By Herman Baca – President of Committee on Chicano Rights

April 8, 2015

As the Chicano community and the Chicano Park Steering Committee (CPSC) prepares to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of historic Chicano Park, Ms. Tommie Camarillo, Chairperson of the CPSC, and longtime Chicana activist has raised issues of the U-T’s historical negative reporting of the Chicano community.

Ms. Camarillo responded to a 3-29-15 U-T article on Barrio Logan and accused the U-T reporter of not doing his homework, research and history on Barrio Logan. Disrespecting the Chicano community by, “failing to address Chicano Park and the Chicano Park Monumental Murals and not mention the CPSC as Stewards of the Park, etc.”

And adding insult to injury by erroneously mislabeling the caption of a picture in the article that, “the Statue in Chicano Park is of Emiliano Zapata but was called Pancho Villa.”

Ms. Camarillo concluded her response by stating,

“We still don’t get any respect from the UT, which hasn’t changed in the past 45 years, and asked for a correction.”

Is Ms. Camarillo correct and justified in her accusations?

The Chicano/Mexicano community knows full well that both her comments and accusations are valid and truthful. Why, because the community has suffered at the hands of the U-T for 80 years under the Copley family dynasty, and presently under new owner, “Papa” Doug Manchester.

The suffering results from the U-T’s historical biased reporting in defining the Chicano/Mexicano communities (to general society) as; law breaking criminal “illegal aliens,” gang members, drug dealers, job stealers, welfare cheats, etc.

The community is also fully aware that this is not the first time the U-T has reported in this manner.

A parallel to what Ms. Camarillo stated above was a 3-30-09 SD Union editorial: The U-T’s headline read, “Mexico’s deadly homage, the country must awaken to narcos’ grip on pop culture.”

The editorial continued to pontificate that,

“Mexico has had a long fascination with the rogue, the rebel, the outlaw, and when the United States conquered half of Mexico in the name of Manifest Destiny, Mexicans put their hopes for revenge in scofflaws such as Joaquin Murrieta, a California bandit,” and, “about 60 years later, during the Mexican Revolution, people rallied around a pair of outlaw insurgents: Emilano Zapata and Pancho Villa.”

U-T editorial writers went as far as to claim that, “Mexico’s new public enemy No 1: was a saint, La Santa Muerte, or Saint Death.”

The Committee on Chicano Rights response blasted the U-T’s editorial for comparing revolutionary heroes Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata to drug dealers, and called the editorial a historical insult of the first order to all persons of Mexican ancestry. The only accurate historical fact quoted in the U-T’s editorial according to the CCR was, “the United States conquered half of Mexico in the name of Manifest Destiny.”

In 2010 U-T Editor Jeff Light asked me if we could meet to discuss “issues” affecting the Chicano community. At the meeting he asked me what the issues were. I responded (truthfully) that one of the biggest issues affecting our community was his newspaper the U-T. He asked me why,  and I replied:

“Because the U-T defines to society (and our community) what the issues are concerning our rights and interests.”

As examples I stated, “The U-T can make an immigrant look like a pilgrim, or a criminal as is done every day with the Mexican undocumented worker.”

However the worst thing the U-T does to our community is, “They select our political leaders, and then destroy them whenever they desire.”

I told Mr. Light that in my opinion, the U-T had done more damage to our interests and rights than the three branches of government, i.e. the executive, legislative, and judicial. He asked me how, and I stated; because those individuals that work in the above institutions believe what they read in the U-T, and they in turn treat Chicanos/Mexicanos (noted above) as law enforcement problems.

Persons in our community I stated criticize the three branches of government; from the President down to the local Mayor, Congress to local City Councils, and the Judicial Justice or just-us system. But few rarely address or criticize the U-T for their systemic negative reporting and coverage. The reasons I stated, is probably because most persons believe that the U-T is independent, reports the truth, offers diverse opinions, fair, objective, and politically unbiased.

After having dealt with the U-T for close to 50 years I stated, nothing could be further from the truth.

The facts as referenced to by Ms. Camarillo’s response (after numerous complains that the CCR has lodged for years), is that when it comes down to reporting on issues affecting our community the U-T; is lazy, sloppy, stonewalls, downplays, restricts, slants, manipulates, practices yellow journalism and ignores opposition to issues that they report on.

I concluded that my overall opinion of the U-T was that their main role historically has been to protect and provide cover for the vested white controlled political establishment, and pay lip service to the community. Editor Light listened, I presumed he was not pleased, but he asked.

In closing, our community should remember the old saying,

“Freedom of the press; belongs to those who own the press!”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rose davis April 8, 2015 at 3:26 pm

Write On Herman: Keep the cultural fire burning. I look forward to connecting with you has been way too long. Best regards,


Frank Gormlie April 8, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Jeff Light of the U-T wrote:

Herman – I appreciate your passion and your experience with many of these issues. I don’t think John Wilkens story about Barrio Logan was an assault on the community of any kind, although it did contain a regrettable error regarding the statue.

This is the story in question:

Some of the material you feel was missing from the story has been treated by John in earlier pieces.

I think you are missing some the recent history of the U-T.
You might not be aware of the annual scholarship and internship program we have run for the last four years:

Or our Latino Champions banquet. .

I have attached a file with the newspaper section that ran last Saturday as well as an overview of daily coverage that we reviewed at our last Latino Advisory Board meeting in March.

We are not a perfect organization. We are people we are doing our best. I am always willing to listen.


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