Friday, April 09, 2021

Interview - Maria Hinojosa

This week:  a special short interview with the award-winning journalist, Maria Hinojosa, as conducted by guest contributor Florence Hernández Ramos.

First, Hinojosa's bio taken from her publisher's website page.

Maria Hinojosa’s nearly thirty-year career as a journalist includes reporting for PBS, CBS, WGBH, WNBC, CNN, NPR, and anchoring and executive producing the Peabody Award–winning show Latino USA, distributed by NPR. She is a frequent guest on MSNBC, and has won several awards, including four Emmys, the Studs Terkel Community Media Award, two Robert F. Kennedy Awards, and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Overseas Press Club. In 2010, she founded Futuro Media, an independent nonprofit organization with the mission of producing multimedia content from a POC perspective. Through the breadth of her work and as the founding coanchor of the political podcast In the Thick, Hinojosa has informed millions about the changing cultural and political landscape in America and abroad. She lives with her family in Harlem in New York City.


FHR:  You have reported from all over the world. You have witnessed unfortunate, horrific situations. You wrote frankly about the PTSD this has given you. Has this left you feeling hopeless or hopeful?

MH:  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with sadness and the amount of inhumanity that I’ve had to experience. Sometimes, it can truly feel overwhelming, but I have to find the energy to keep on going and so I try to focus on telling people’s stories the best way that I can. My post traumatic shock disorder, PTSD, does show up very specifically regarding September 11, but more recently regarding covid-19.

FHR:  One of the most capital-intensive ventures in radio is news-gathering or journalism. In spite of that, you founded Futuro Media, a non-profit new-gathering organization. Why did you do it, how do you keep it going and what difference has it made?

MH:  When I created Futuro Media, of course I was overwhelmed by the notion of having to raise money to do basic journalism. But what I realized is that we have a responsibility because of the growing diversity of the audience in the United States, and I am committed to telling the journalism that represents these stories and these perspectives. I think that’s why I went for it. I have always tried to think of the audience and their needs first, and that has guided me in terms of facing the challenges of raising the money to do this. Now that we’ve had so much success it’s a little bit easier, but always a challenge to raise the money for journalism

FHR:  Latino USA originally housed at KUTX public radio is one of the crown jewels of Futuro Media. Why was it important to you to bring Latino USA under the control of Futuro Media. Is Latino heard only on public radio stations – how can we find it?

MHLatino USA used to be a side project for me, but now it has become the center of my reporting. The same thing that guides everything that I do is tied to Latino USA and it is in fact the crown jewel of Futuro Media. We knew that that would be the basis for the creation of the company. Latino USA represents so much integrity and authenticity in terms of our voice and our journalism and we needed to make sure we were the ones who were going to be in charge of it entirely.

FHR:  Why was it important to author Once I Was You and what are your future plans for it?

MH:  I wasn’t planning on writing a book to be published in the year 2020, but a lot of things came together and kind of forced me, in many ways I felt pressured by the moment in history, to assume this responsibility. I committed myself to being really honest about my experience as well as telling the history of immigration in this country. The response has been really beautiful, mostly because it’s been very grassroots and very heartfelt and this has really brought me a tremendous amount of love and a feeling of having community. Not just of women, immigrants, Latinas, but of people from every background who are finding a way to identify with this book, and that is incredibly gratifying. We do have plans to be working on a YA version of this book, and the paperback will be out in the fall. I’m hoping to get on a plane and hoping to meet people who have read the book if I can!


Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction. His latest novel, Angels in the Wind, will be published by Arte Público Press April 30.

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