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Program On Ariz. Immigration Part News, Advocacy


The U.S. Supreme Court is getting ready to rule on Arizona's controversial immigration law, and a lot of people in that state are watching closely. Tonight, nearly two dozen Spanish-language radio and TV stations in Arizona are scheduled to run the same program about the immigration law. As NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, they're walking a fine line between journalism and advocacy.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: In Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma, 23 TV and radio stations are running the half-hour program simultaneously. It spotlights Arizona's controversial immigration law - Senate Bill 1070 - which would, among other things, require non-U.S. citizens to carry alien registration papers at all times. The show looks at the history of anti-immigration laws, and their impact on families. Journalists from the regular news programs interview a civil rights lawyer and Latino Arizonans.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Todo lo que esta pasando, estan incrementando el odio, estan incrementando el terror contra la comunidad.

DEL BARCO: The hatred and terror against us is increasing, says one person who's interviewed. Another talks about how immigrants feel persecuted. The audience is invited to call in, to immigration lawyers who will answer questions from people confused about the bill.

BEN MONTERROSO: It is fear, and it's misinformation. We need to ensure that our community understands that we have rights. That's why we're doing this.

DEL BARCO: Ben Monterroso heads a non-partisan group that encourages Latinos to vote. He was able to organize Arizona's fiercely competitive stations to unite in their message.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: "Hoy Somos Arizona."

DEL BARCO: The show's title, "Hoy Somos Arizona" - "Today We Are Arizona" - echoes a political movement of immigrant supporters called Todos Somos Arizona - we are all Arizona.

VERONICA VILLAFANE: I think it's definitely different from what English-language media would do, and this is an unprecedented effort.

DEL BARCO: Journalist Veronica Villafane blogs about the Spanish-language media.

VILLAFANE: That's really the difference with Hispanic media. They're very well-known for community journalism, for advocacy journalism. And I think that Hispanic media really knows who their audience is, and they're really serving that audience.

DEL BARCO: Estrella TV is one of the Phoenix stations airing the show. Andres Angulo is its vice president of news. He says although he's not against advocacy journalism, he doesn't think this show - presented as a news special - is partisan.

ANDRES ANGULO: We're journalists. Were not politicians, no. We are not like FOX News, that they take a side to the right; or the radio stations that take a side to the left, and they're not shy. We're not taking sides. We're just taking the side of the community, to have a better understanding of a very hard, complicated and controversial law that - affect them directly.

DEL BARCO: But Villafane says critics may misunderstand the show's intentions.

VILLAFANE: I really wouldn't be surprised if there is a backlash because of this effort; accusations of trying to polarize the community. But I think in reality, the polarizing already happened when they actually did the bill.

DEL BARCO: "Hoy Somos Arizona" will also be streaming live on the Internet, and it's replacing the local newscasts on many of Arizona's Spanish-language media.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.