With the U.S. Latino population projected to hit 131 million by 2050, the representation of Latinos on the media has been changing notably on cable television.

As of July 14, "Noticero Telemundo" co-anchor José Díaz-Balart added a new role to his news resume as host of the daily hourlong program "José Diaz-Balart" at 10 a.m. EST on MSNBC, taking over Chris Jansing's "Jansing and Company" after she accepted a new role as NBC's Senior White House Correspondent. The addition of Diaz-Balart is the latest change to MSNBC's daytime schedule, which includes 26-year-old activist and former U.S. government advisor Ronan Farrow on "Ronan Farrow Daily" and African-American journalist and TheGrio.com Managing Editor Joy Reid on "The Reid Report."

"If you're going to watch my show to be strictly reaffirmed that your personal opinion is the only good ones, you're going to have some moments of bitterness," Díaz-Balart, who becomes MSNBC's sole Hispanic anchor, told MediaBistro. "It really is about opening up lines of dialogue, opening up to other communities, opening up to other thoughts across the board."

For MSNBC Senior Executive Producer Chris Peña, the addition of Diaz-Balart is a "very important and overdue step."

"When I came in February to MSNBC, and I already knew this in advance, but I said to my boss 'It's time to have a Hispanic anchor here.' There was an opportunity, the timing was right, and we have somebody in our company who can absolutely do the job and do it in a high level, and José has the experience to do this," said Peña.

Peña made the statement while serving as a panelist at the 2014 League of United Latin American Citizens' (LULAC) annual national convention in New York City during a session aptly titled "The Role of Latinos in U.S. Media: Just Entertainment or Algo Mas?"

"I think more and more we are seeing that Latinos in this country, the voice of Latinos in this country, is certainly a voice that needs to be reckoned with," said Dewey Square Group Principal Maria Cardona, who served as moderator of the session.

"We need, not only, to get more Latinos into this business but more Latinos who understand that the representation of Latinos is the representation of America," Cardona added.

The image of Latinos has also had an effect on cable television with networks such as NUVOtv, an English-language channel catered to Latino audiences. NUVOtv's Senior Vice President of Affiliate Distribution and Marketing Judi Lopez stated her network is not exclusive to one language but both Spanish and English.

"We're trying to be a network that wants to show Latinos in a very different way. It's aspirational. It's images that makes sense where people can be doctors and lawyers and they can be comedians and those counter the images that you're seeing on television," said Lopez at the LULAC session, which is a change from the stereotypical characterization of Latinos portraying law enforcement, maids or drug dealers.

According to Lopez, people need to support Latinos who are trying to create broadcast content.

For Peña, when people look for stories that "affect Latinos," the default response is immigration. Peña, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, stated immigration should not the only topic that defines Latinos. He noted immigration is usually the fifth most-important topic for Latinos behind other issues like education, the economy, health and jobs. As programmers of cable news, Peña stated one of the things people in his position do is to not only tell stories that include Latinos in immigration or drugs but involve them in discussions such as education and the economy.

Peña spoke about the development of NBC Latino, which ceased major operations 16 months after its summer 2012 launch.

"We launched that site specifically to tell positive stories and capture the aspirational nature of Latinos because there's not a more aspirational person than an immigrant," said Peña. "There are plenty of news outlets, the general market media, would tell a story that puts Latinos in a negative light, so crime stories involving Latinos would get picked up but nobody is doing a story about a Latino banker, lawyer or housewife who is doing something great in or around his or her community."

Having Latinos in cable news includes the booking process. Peña stated he has sent emails to his executive producers to include Latino guests on shows to discuss matters other than immigration. But among the first topics of Diaz-Balart's new show was immigration. The first show also included an interview with an undocumented minor named "Maria" from Honduras.

During the LULAC session, Cardona noted, "We want to make sure that that voice and the image of that voice is equal and important and equal in the gravitas of the issues that we deal with."

While Diaz-Balart and NUVOtv's programming have also dealt with topics or situations outside of immigration, maids, drug cartels and crime, broadcasters face a challenging journey to stray away and immediately change perceptions of the clichéd portrayals or stories involving Latinos as seen on mainstream networks.


For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: m.oleaga@latinpost.com.