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Rep. Demings Reintroduces Media Diversity Legislation

March 26, 2021
Press Release

ORLANDO, FL – Today, Rep. Demings’ bipartisan resolution calling for increased diversity in American media was reintroduced in the House of Representatives. Co-leading the resolution are Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL).

The resolution, which was passed by the House of Representatives last year, has also been reintroduced in the Senate by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Said Rep. Demings, “America continues to struggle with ongoing disparities in housing, education, justice, and even the ongoing pandemic. By highlighting diverse stories, we expose injustices and bring light to dark places. As we work to build a nation with opportunity and justice for all people, media diversity is the sunshine that brings change to places and people who have been too often neglected.

“This resolution is about telling every child in America that their story matters, and that our media industry has a place for them, no matter their race, gender, family name, or ZIP code. When we see a diversity of stories and faces being taken seriously in the arts and in the news, all of us benefit. Our lives are made richer and more profound by the diversity of experiences, stories, and relationships that define our great country. I thank my bipartisan cosponsors for their support in this important effort.”

Said Rep. González-Colón, “as the first woman to represent Puerto Rico in Congress, I take great pride in being a part of this initiative that seeks to eliminate barriers that prevent media diversity. I strongly believe that it is our responsibility to pay it forward, and work to ensure that minorities are represented in every sector of society whether it is in elected office, in businesses, in the military or in the media. This resolution sends a strong message that we in Congress are united in this effort to encourage media diversity that will benefit Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life stay informed and civically engaged. I commend my colleague Rep. Val Demings for introducing this bipartisan legislation.”

Said Rep. Butterfield, “in today’s omnipresent media environment, the need to increase diverse voices that can contribute to the dialogue has never been more important. America is a nation rich in diversity, with a vast array of stories told and untold. America’s media outlets should be just as diverse as our nation. Diversity in media at every level must be prioritized, and I am proud to join my colleagues in leading this resolution to call for much needed change.”

Said Rep. Salazar, “After 35 years of broadcast television, five Emmys, and dozens of interviews going toe-to-toe with world leaders and dictators—I’ll never forget the first time I was turned down for a job because of my accent. Breaking into the media industry was not easy and it still isn’t. I’m proud to co-introduce this resolution. To report the most reliable and accurate news, we must reflect the diversity of America in the industry.”

Said Senator Rosen, “Especially now, as we battle the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever for our communities to have access to a strong and diverse media that properly reflects and reports on the challenges that all communities are facing. We must make an effort to ensure that our newsrooms, production offices, and media boardrooms are reflective of America’s diversity. I’m proud to help lead this important resolution that takes steps toward building a more diverse media landscape.”

Said Senator Rubio, “Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of working with local media outlets across the state of Florida. These outlets are ingrained in our communities, offering unique and important insight. We must continue to support small, diverse media outlets that are instrumental in preserving local culture and serve as an invaluable resource for our communities.”

Background

The resolution reaffirms Congress’ commitment to increasing media diversity. It also pledges Congress to work with media entities and diverse stakeholders to develop common-ground solutions to eliminate barriers to media diversity. The resolution reaffirms that with increasing media experience and sophistication, it is even more important to have minority participation in local media to strengthen social cohesion among different communities and build understanding on important community issues that impact residents’ daily lives.

The resolution expresses that “an informed and engaged electorate is critical to a vibrant democracy is deeply rooted in our laws of free speech and underpins the virtues on which we established our Constitution,” and that “having independent, diverse, and local media that provide exposure to a broad range of viewpoints and the ability to contribute to the political debate is central to sustaining that informed engagement.”

50 years after the Kerner Report said that ‘‘the painful process of readjustment that is required of the American news media must begin now,” the industry continues to struggle with efforts to diversify.

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