Improving Personal Finance Literacy in Hispanic Communities: A Training Program for Latino Journalists
The Hispanic Personal Finance Reporting Program of the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) provided hands-on training to Latino journalists working at Spanish-and English-language news organizations in the United States. Between 10 and 15 journalists from print, radio, television and on-line media outlets participated in a two-day workshop. The training addressed the full spectrum of critical personal finance topics, including investing, consumer debt, financial planning, mortgages, and retirement planning.
This program expanded the ability of the increasingly influential Hispanic media in the United States to provide timely and reliable personal finance information to the Latino community. Given its enormous buying power—estimated to reach $1 trillion in 2008—there is a pronounced need for the Hispanic population in the United States to improve its personal financial literacy. This is particularly true in immigrant communities, whose members generally come from developing countries with cash-based economies. Unaccustomed to the American system of credit financing—and often unaware of the serious consequences of consumer debt—these communities are highly vulnerable to predatory lending practices and outright credit scams.
Training Hispanic journalists to cover consumer finance issues can be a very effective way to raise personal financial literacy in Latino communities. Ethnic media comprise the fastest growing industry segment in the United States.
The workshop agenda included:
Information sessions featuring experts on personal finance topics, such as mortgages, consumer finance, investing, debt management and benefits, etc.;
Training sessions on what service journalism is and how the audience should have a practical “take-away” from each story;
Panel discussions about current issues such as how fraud is affecting the Latino community: Auto buying vs. leasing, college loans, rent-to-own schemes for household goods, advance-fee loans, identity theft, and other forms of fraud targeting immigrants;
Discussions of journalism ethics while covering personal finance issues, including topics such as anonymous sources, fairness and balance, and conflict of interest.