Univision’s decision to devote 100% of its principal national evening newscast to the passing of Mexican musical legend Juan Gabriel is a revealing window on the priorities of the network.
The music icon’s death, mourned by millions of fans, is certainly deserving of ample coverage, but is it the only thing Univision viewers should know about for two days in a row? In the world of Univision news executives, apparently so.
Since Monday, Noticiero Univision has looked more like a VH1 Behind the Music special on “JuanGa”, as he was affectionately known.
The network’s news pivot, right out of E! Entertainment, even blocked out any and all coverage of the usual staples on the newscast, including immigration, crime, and the U.S. presidential campaign.
In contrast, Univision’s chief rival, Telemundo, while devoting most of their August 29 national newscast to the entertainment news of the moment, did provide at least a couple of minutes of news about Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto’s law school thesis plagiarism scandal, as well as the latest immigration-related news, among others. Telemundo further improved on Aug. 30, dedicating almost half of their newscast to the other, major non-Juan Gabriel stories of the day.
With wall-to-wall Juan Gabriel, Univision viewers missed out on such other consequential stories of the day as the vulnerabilities of U.S. voting systems to hackers, Obamacare’s ongoing implosion and the latest tough crackdown on dissidents in Venezuela by President Nicolas Maduro. Or, you know, anything related to the election – like Trump and Hillary tied in the latest Reuters/Ipsos polling, or the State Department finding 30 missing emails from Hillary’s private server on Benghazi.
While Juan Gabriel’s passing certainly touches at viewers’ heartstrings and is a major loss at a cultural level, it’s a real eye-opener that for one of America’s leading television networks, it is so important that it eclipses all the other many pressing news stories that the Hispanic community deserves to be informed about.
Silver lining? At least for a few days, Univision viewers have been spared the liberal slant that consistently characterizes anchor Jorge Ramos and most of the network’s reporting on the U.S. presidential election, immigration and other U.S. domestic policy issues.