A resolution with the strong support of two members of the Florida delegation—U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.—“calling for increased diversity in American media” cleared the U.S. House.
Back in September 2019, Rubio and Demings were joined by U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and U.S. Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, R-PR, in championing the resolution.
“Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of working with local media outlets across the state of Florida,” Rubio said when Rosen introduced the Senate version of the resolution. “These outlets are ingrained in our communities, offering unique and important insight. We must continue to support small, diverse media outlets that are instrumental in preserving local culture and serve as an invaluable resource for our communities.”
“In order for Americans to be informed and engaged, it is important to have access to strong and diverse media,” Rosen said. “We must make an effort to ensure that our newsrooms and media companies are reflective of America, both in terms of ideas and of media figures. This is critical now, more than ever. This resolution engenders these very real sentiments, allowing us to break through barriers and realize that diversity is our strength. I’m proud to join my colleagues in taking steps toward building a more diverse media landscape.”
“I am glad to join with Representative González-Colón, Senator Rosen, and Senator Rubio to introduce this legislation. It is invaluable for our children and our democracy to have a cross-section of perspectives that reflect various cultures and voices, in news and entertainment. America is at its best when every American can read, listen, and watch vibrant media that reflects the diversity of our great country, ” Demings, who introduced the House version, said.
“Our nation is comprised of people who represent a plethora of thoughts, heritage and upbringing that is not always represented in the media, making some of these groups invisible to others. The media should be a reflection of the society they serve, which is not homogeneous. Learning about other experiences, listening to different opinions, and getting to know other’s backgrounds strengthens our nation and leads to inclusion. As a Latino woman, I take great pride in being a part of this bipartisan initiative that seeks to eliminate barriers that prevent media diversity,” said González-Colón.
Rubio’s office offered some of the rationales behind the resolution.
“The resolution reaffirms Congress’s commitment to increasing media diversity. It also pledges Congress to work with media entities and diverse stakeholders to develop common-ground solutions to eliminate barriers to media diversity. The resolution reaffirms that with increasing media experience and sophistication, it is even more important to have minority participation in local media to strengthen social cohesion among different communities and build understanding on important community issues that impact residents’ daily lives,” Rubio’s office noted.
“The resolution also expresses that ‘an informed and engaged electorate is critical to a vibrant democracy is deeply rooted in our laws of free speech and underpins the virtues on which we established our Constitution,’ and that ‘having independent, diverse, and local media that provide exposure to a broad range of viewpoints and the ability to contribute to the political debate is central to sustaining that informed engagement,’” Rubio’s office added.
Reeling in more than 70 cosponsors, Demings nailed down the support of fellow Florida Democrats U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Stephanie Murphy, Donna Shalala, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.
While Rosen’s resolution has been stuck before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee since September, on Wednesday, Demings got her resolution through the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee over the summer and the House passed it this week on a voice vote.
Demings weighed in this week after the House passed her resolution.
“From movies and television, to music and theater, to newspapers and the evening news, we are a stronger country when every story has a chance to shine. Our nation is made great by the people who live in it and the incredible diversity of stories that they bring to the American experience,” Demings said. “Fifty years after the Kerner Report, America continues to struggle with ongoing disparities in housing, education, justice, and even the ongoing pandemic. Who tells the story matters, because diverse perspectives are necessary to see the whole picture. Only by capturing the full and vibrant spectrum of the American experience can we begin to build a country with true opportunity and justice in all things.
“I am proud that the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed our resolution, and I thank all of the cosponsors and supporters who helped move this bill forward. As we look towards 2021 and a new Congress and new administration, I am eager to continue our work to support diversity in media and show the world the remarkable power of different perspectives,” she added.
Rosen and Rubio are not having the same success over in the upper chamber as the resolution has been bottled up in the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee for the last 15 months.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.