Univision Steps Up

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on March 1, 2010

Last month this blog criticized Univision for profiteering from commercials for narcocorridos, which have been described as "stories of bandits and outlaws updated to the age of drug cartels and AK-47s, and known to some, because of their grim authenticity and bad reputation, as 'the rap of modern Mexico.'"

So now it's good to send kudos to Univision for its commitment to a new campaign that aims to reduce the dropout rate among Latino students. A principal focus will be to encourage parents to appreciate the long-term value of an education and to insist that their children stay in school. Too often, organizers say parents encourage their children to drop out in order to help with short-term financial problems.

On Sunday, Univision Network President Cesar Conde said the campaign, titled "Es el Momento" (The Moment Is Now) will also feature a public information effort to inform families about resources and programs available to those who seek to complete their education.

"Nobody is saying that this easy," said Conde, a Harvard graduate and the U.S.-born son of a Peruvian and Cuban immigrant parents. "But parents have to understand that the resources exist and that with a little long-term planning, it is economically possible for their children to go to college."

Last week, Conde and other Latino leaders joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan and philanthropist Melinda Gates at a press conference in Miami to announce the start of the campaign, They want to encourage families to embrace the importance of a diploma, not only from high school, but also from college.

As Diario de Las Americas put it, the program is advancing "the clear idea that its not possible to aspire to a life of progress in the U.S. middle class without post secondary instruction."

Univision has a slogan declaring a mission to inform, entertain, and empower. But its programming too often has emphasized entertainment and earnings, as demonstrated by the frequent commercials for the noxious narcocorridos. It is good to see such a powerful institution affirm a more responsible vision.