ABC and Univision teaming up to create an English language cable channel aimed at Latinos is a brilliant idea. They just need to be careful -- very careful.
There are too many tired clichés the two networks could succumb to while building programming for my generation. And, that would be a shame.
Should they do it right, however, they can successfully target not only the large English speaking Latino population but also the young Latino population. After all, 41 percent of millennials are bilingual and we also happen to be the fastest growing minority in the country.
We are a powerful audience. With that in mind, here are five things ABC/Univision should NOT do as they role out the network as well as five things they absolutely should do:
- Don't make cartoons of us. Enough of the stereotypical families on television. We don't all live with every member of our extended family in a brownstone in Queens (ie Ugly Betty). We just don't. Please keep this in mind when building your "lifestyle" programing.
- The traditional Latin family is out. My parents never pressured me to marry, have children and have the complete Catholic-Latin family. Remember, we millennials (especially women) were raised to value independence.
- Assume immigration is the only legislation we care about. Yes, I realize you stated in the press release you would also include coverage on the economy, education, foreign policy, etc. Don't let the immigration debate take over the whole agenda--keep your promise!
- Forget that our families are from all over Latin America--not just Mexico, Dominican Republic, or Cuba. I hope to see a variety in news reporting from the ENTIRE region. Important news is being made all over the Americas--report it.
- Presume we watch cheesy television. Telenovelas aren't necessarily for us--we aren't our parents! We also can't take the weather girls seriously--I'm speaking directly to you Univision. Enough of this please.
- Be sensitive of our dual-heritage. We are constantly balancing our two worlds. It's nice to know we aren't alone. Programs reflecting this unique struggle would speak to the millions of us that go back and forth between our Latin and American identities.
- Know that we are optimistic! We saw our parents work their tails off and are encouraged about our future. Don't take it from me; take it from the Pew Research Center. Optimism is important.
- Give us real role models to watch. Enough of the Jennifer Lopez and Eva Longoria as examples of success. We can't all be movie stars. Programming needs to feature hardworking, influential Latinos (not just actors!).
- Provide balanced political coverage. The notion that one party or another owns the Hispanic vote is ridiculous. Conservative Latinos exist and it would be nice to see both sides see get equal coverage on the new network.
- Always be mindful of our diversity. Many Latinos in the United States are Mexican, but others are from Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Don't treat us as a homogenous group when building your programming and hiring hosts.
This new venture is a watershed moment for Latinos--especially for millennials who make up the majority of the population (the average of a Latino living in the United States is 27 years old). So, don't blow it ABC/Univision--you have a captive audience and we can't wait to see what creative programming you have in store for us.