Que Orgullo: Latinas in Journalism Are Being Honored in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Que Orgullo: Latinas in Journalism Are Being Honored in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History
Credit: Instagram/ @iliacalderon, @mariaeasalinas

The influential role of Latina journalists often remains unsung in the tapestry of journalism in the United States. Yet, a groundbreaking new exhibit, “¡De última hora! Latinas Report Breaking News,” at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, seeks to spotlight the remarkable contributions of Latinas who have shaped Spanish-language news. 

The roots of their impact trace back to the 1960s when the first Spanish-language network aired in the United States. The exhibit sheds light on the pioneering women broadcasters who became household names in Spanish-speaking and bilingual families. Among the Latinas featured are María Elena Salinas, Blanca Rosa Vílchez, Dunia Elvir, Marilys Llanos, Gilda Mirós, Lori Montenegro, and Ilia Calderón, as per an official statement provided by the Smithsonian Institution. 

“¡De última hora!” stands as a bilingual homage to these journalistic trailblazers. Melinda Machado, a co-curator, underscores how these Latinas serve as the face and trusted voice for Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S., embodying the stories of countless others laboring in broadcasting. As we all know, it is of the utmost importance to provide factual and tough reportage to the Spanish-language community – especially since this community also has the power to vote. Thankfully, these women have made it a point to report fairly.  

According to NPR, the exhibit’s inception dates back when “Escúchame” (“Listen to Me”) captured the history of Spanish-language television through oral histories from TV station employees.  

Spanish-language television’s importance is palpable in immigrant communities and bilingual households. For many, it serves as a trusted source of news and information. 

Several statistics from Nielsen corroborate this sentiment, indicating that Latine audiences value content in their language and rely on local Spanish TV news as a reliable information source. 

The Smithsonian Institute Understands the Influence of Latinas in Journalism

After all, Spanish-language news plays a pivotal role in keeping communities informed about vital issues like immigration, global affairs, and national politics. It helps that these reporters resemble the audience’s cultural identity – that builds more trust within the community.  

The exhibit dives deeper into the triumphs and tribulations faced by Latina journalists. María Elena Salinas, in a video, reflects on the struggles these journalists confront: unrealistic beauty standards, gender discrimination, and higher expectations compared to male counterparts. 

While celebrating their achievements, the exhibit also illuminates ongoing challenges, such as underrepresentation of Latinos in mainstream news coverage. This is why we must all continue to advocate for more inclusive programming and representation behind the scenes. 

The “¡De última hora! Latinas Report Breaking News” exhibit encapsulates the role Latina journalists provided in narrating U.S. history for Spanish-speaking communities. Thus, further highlighting their commitment to delivering the news that matters most to their audiences. 

This bilingual exploration of their stories runs until May 2025, inviting visitors to recognize and celebrate the profound impact of these journalists on the U.S. narrative. 

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