Nearly 25 percent of Latinos are considering leaving the profession. Many just got started.
Marco Revuelta used to get home from his Houston-elementary school and turn on the television to Univision 45 Houston.
Everyday, he watched “Primer Impacto” and pretended to be on the show. He studied the anchors’ every move — the cadence of their voice and their posture.
Soon after college, Revuelta landed his dream job as a local TV reporter. But fast forward three years and Revuelta wants out.
Like Revuelta, almost a quarter of Latino journalists are considering leaving the profession, according to a study by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and researchers at the University of Texas at El Paso. Another 32 percent said they’re not sure they want to stay in the business.
Low salaries, limited options to increase their pay and lack of upward mobility are pushing journalists out of the business, according to the study.
The average annual pay for a journalist in the United States is $32,000 a year, according ZipRecruiter, a job searching app.
When asked about their intention to continue working at their current job, almost half of the journalists who responded to the study said they couldn’t see themselves satisfied in five years.
Dino Chiecchi, former NAHJ President and contributor to the study, said employers are demanding even more from journalists than ever before.
Journalists must have video, photo, social media, writing and reporting skills. Those are the minimal expectations, he said.
“Journalism isn’t for wimps,” Chiecchi said.
But it’s also the stress, Revuelta said, that pushes journalists out of the newsroom.
Raymond Ruiz, who runs El Gato Media Network, a long-term mentorship program that helps people of color navigate jobs in the communication field, and is also Revuelta’s mentor, said it takes a special kind of person to be a journalist.
He tries to steer students toward storytelling jobs such as PR and non-profit organizations, which hold the promise of a more regular schedule — and which aspiring journalists often don’t consider.
“When a young Latino comes to me and says want to tell stories, they either want to be a print reporter or on TV,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said he’s seen too many students — all young, hungry and eager to tell stories — realize that the sacrifices of the job are too much. Many want families, better pay and regular hours.
The students are looking at their future career path, and asking “Is this really worth it?”
For Revuelta, it hasn’t been. He has covered fires, shootings, car crashes and people who have lost loved ones.
“It takes a toll on you. I love telling stories, but to get to that point, you have to get through a lot,” Revuelta said. “My happiness is worth a lot more than 10 seconds of time on camera.”
The study also points to a possible solution: more support for the development and advancement of Latino journalists.
“This conference is a perfect example of that,” Chiecchi said. “[That 25 percent] is a wake-up call. If there is going to that kind of anticipated exodus we need to get together and figure out how to stop it.”
This year’s NAHJ conference has more training than previous years, with 13 tracks of more than 130 hours of training led by journalists of color.
Yet for journalists like Revuelta, the training isn’t enough. It’s the culture, he said, that needs to change.
“I can leave saying that I did it,” he said. “I fulfilled my childhood dream, and that’s something a lot of people don’t get to do.”