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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Soledad O'Brien in The Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun posted an article about Soledad O'Brien and her documentary "Latino in America". Here's an excerpt:

One of the great joys of TV journalism is seeing first-rate correspondents matched up with subject matter that they are passionate about. Think of the late Ed Bradley sitting down to interview a pop culture pioneer whom he admired like Lena Horne, orNBC's Richard Engel in the line of fire covering a war.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien achieves that kind of stature with "Latino in America," a four-hour, two-nightdocumentary series on the experiences of the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority, beginning Wednesday night at 9.

Some might argue that the 43-year-old journalist had already arrived in that elite company with "Black in America" in 2008 and "Black in America 2" this year. But while I think her work was first-rate in those shows, there is something extraordinary about O'Brien's performance and presence in the new Latino documentary.

She is in total command of the subject matter and seems so finely tuned to the nuances of assimilation, multiculturalism and changing notions of identity that you can't help but trust her after just a few minutes of watching. And she forges that same kind of bond with the people she is interviewing and reporting on in the film, getting sullen-looking teenage boys to confess their ethnic insecurities and clinically depressed adolescent girls to talk openly about the pain they feel in being caught between two cultures.

Conversations about race and identity do not come easily in this country, and members of the media do not achieve the kind of rapport O'Brien does by hot-dogging in for on-camera interviews after all the documentary grunt work has been done by producers and other reporters.

"I traveled for a lot of this year six days a week to do this documentary, which is really hard," O'Brien says. "I mean, I love to travel. It's one of the things I love about being a journalist. But six days a week is an insane travel schedule. A lot of the travel was to the West Coast, and I was doing three red-eyes a week."

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Anonymous said...

I agree with The Baltimore Sun's analysis of Soledad O'Brien's competence. She does pick up on "sublte nuances" and it is her complete assimilation into the multi-cultural world, no matter black or Latino, that makes her all the more gifted as a journalist and as a story teller, in an age where both of these qualites are rare. It is a wonder why 60 Minutes has not knocked on her door as of yet. She would make an excellent correspondent.

Anonymous said...

"Latino In America" was fighting an up hill battle in ratings right from the start. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the adult viewing cable audience think Latino equals illegal immigrant. Even though this is hardly the case, having Lou Dobbs pound this message into everyone's head, continually on the same network, has not done anything good to alter popular opinion.

Anonymous said...

Isabel Garcia, a civil rights lawyer for the Latino community was profiled and edited acessively on a recent interview with Anderson
Cooper on 360, according to the printed edition of the NYT, Business section this Saturday,Bp3.
"She had expected a 15 minute interview with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Maricopa County AZ. During the taped interview she made several unprompted comments about Lou Dobbs. She said she called Mr. Arpaio and Mr. Dobbs, "the two most dangerous men to our communities," and because of them the Latino communities are being terrorized." The comments were not included when the show AC360, aired Wednesday night. Ms Garcia is quoted as saying, "They heavily deleted what I did get to say." CNN replied by saying it was edited for time and relevance as are all pre-taped interviews.
It was not noted if it appeared in full on its website.