EASTSIDE : Media Watchdog Committee Formed

After taking on a radio station that promoted a show with a slogan some saw as offensive to Latinos, a community group has formed a committee to serve as a watchdog over the media and educate people about negative ethnic images.

The Anti-Defamation and Civil Rights Awareness Committee, part of the East/Northeast Networking Roundtable, hopes to point out Latino stereotypes and to educate people about the history of negative images in the media, said Leonor Lizardo, a round-table member who is also on the board of the Pacifica Foundation, operator of five radio stations.

"We will talk to media experts to give us resources on how we can best fight the stereotypical images," Lizardo said.

The idea sprang from outrage over a KPWR-FM (105.9) radio advertisement for the Baka Boyz morning disc jockeys, who described themselves as "2 Fat Mexicanz" on billboards throughout the city.

The committee, composed of health and social workers, started a letter-writing campaign and met with station Manager Doyle Rose .

One of the billboards, with the disc jockeys sitting on toilets, was immediately pulled after Rose and other station officials deemed it in poor taste. The phrase "2 Fat Mexicanz" was later changed to "2 Fat Proud Mexicanz."

Rose had pointed out to round-table members that research showed young Latinos took on the phrase as a "rallying slogan" but the station changed the phrase to allay concerns about the use of stereotypes.

Committee members agree that a large part of their work will lie in educating young Latinos who may not know of previous stereotypical images in the media, such as the Frito Bandito, a mascot for Frito-Lay corn chips.

"We hardly see ourselves portrayed in the media, and I guess they were just happy to see themselves portrayed in any fashion," Lizardo said.

The group hopes to educate people so they, in turn, can speak to community groups about negative portrayals of Latinos. They also will target the financial backers of companies that use images deemed negative.

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