Maria Hinojosa, a proud Mexican-American,  is a distinguished and award-winning journalist, who has been covering America’s untold stories and highlights today’s critical issues. She is one of the nation’s most successful and celebrated Latina journalists and there was a point in time when she felt invisible.

“As a little girl, I understood the importance of journalism and reporting and media, but I never saw myself there. “My stories didn’t appear. We were invisible. I was invisible from the media narrative. No one in the reporting that I saw looked like me [and] looked like my family, so I began to think that maybe somehow my life — my story — was less valuable. Less important.”

In 2015, Hinojosa gave a powerful talk at the inaugural TEDX Pennsylvania Ave event in Washington D.C. titled  “From Invisible to Visible” sharing her personal experience of not seeing others that looked like her in mainstream media. Her experience of feeling  invisible is a feeling that so man still experience which make her talk even more powerful today.

Maria was born in Mexico City and moved to the Chicago in the 60s during at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. “We were very typical Mexicanos en la casa and outside we were Americans. We were big consumers of news. I remember watching the protests during the [1968] Democratic National Convention. I remember the grape boycott. I remember Vietnam. But there was no one talking about what our experience was. I felt invisible”, say Hinojosa. Then one day I saw Martin Luther King speaking.

Hinojosa said. “And it was this person who looked the most unlike me, who made me believe that maybe one day ‘Yes, I could in fact be a part of the fabric of this country.’ I didn’t know this invisibility, I just lived it. I didn’t understand it. And I came to see myself and feel myself as, ‘the other.’”

That feeling of invisibility led her to her purpose and where she is today- where she gets to tell the stories that matter and be a voice for the voices that don’t get heard and tell their stories.

After graduating from Barnard with a B.A in Latin American studies and minors in political science and women’s studies, Hinojosa moved to Washington, D.C. and was the first Latina ever hired at NPR. She held several reporting positions at  PBS, CBS, WNBC, CNN, NPR, and anchoring the Emmy Award winning talk show.

In April 2010, she decided she literally didn’t want to work for “the man” so Hinojosa launched The Futuro Media Group, a non-profit media group, in the heart of Harlem, NY, as an alternative to the white and male-dominated spaces that is still prevalent in the news media industry today to creating a diverse newsroom. As a national news and production company that is centered around and led by women, particularly women of color, her company makes her only Latina running a nonprofit newsroom in 2019. She produces successful shows like “Latino USA” and “In the Thick,” and collaborates and competes with mainstream outlets like NPR, ProPublica, and WNYC.

The mission of the organization is to produce multi-platform, community-based journalism and give a critical voice to the voiceless by harnessing the power of independent media to tell stories that are overlooked or under reported by traditional media and cover the changing cultural landscape. She has built a company with a very  clear objective of “Making the invisible visible and  telling stories from a new perspective and using a different lens than the white male establishment.

For the last 34 years, she has reported on everything from immigrant work camps in New Orleans after the Katrina Hurricane, to teen girl victims of sexual harassment of the job, to stories of the poor in Alabama to gang related murders and migration in Honduras and Child Brides. An award winning journalist, she’s won four Emmys, a Peabody,  two Robert Kennedy Journalism awards, an Edward R Murrow awards and so many more. In 2010 She’s been awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, by DePaul University in Chicago and an honorary degree from Simmons College. She has appeared on CNN, PBS, CBS and has directed the show Latino USA at NPR for the last 25 years, which she now produces through Futuro Media Group and is the the longest running Latino-focused program on air in the United States.

She’s also the host for  “Humanizing America” and the podcast “In the thick” that she co-hosts with Julio Ricardo Varela, and is the creator of the series “America by the Numbers” on PBS, in which she reveals the human face of demographic changes in the country. become a contributor to CBS Sunday Morning and is a frequent guest on MSNBC.

Barnard College, announced this past August, that Hinojosa ’84 would be joining the faculty as a professor as their inaugural Journalist-in-Residence. It will be a three year residency in the fall, teaching a creative writing course about processing trauma and a journalism course about covering incarceration and immigration issues from a Latinx perspective. Future classes will similarly probe the intersections of nonfiction, personal memoir, immigration, and journalism. Hinojosa calls it “A dream come true”

 “I am honored to be Barnard’s first Journalist-in-Residence at this pivotal moment in history,” said Hinojosa. “As Barnard and other forward-thinking institutions confront today’s societal dynamics, this new position sends a powerful message that even in troubling times where many feel targeted, we will rise to meet the challenge. I am proud to be a leader in my community of West Harlem, where I raised my children, and I look forward to returning to Barnard to nurture a new generation of students as they become phenomenal writers, thinkers, journalists, and feminists.”

Hinojosa is the author of two books, Crews: Gang Members Talk to Maria Hinojosa and  a motherhood memoir, Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son.

Comments are closed.