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As COVID-19 cases rise, Idaho organizations continue to fight misinformation aimed at Latinos

Posted at 5:16 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 20:30:38-04

MAGIC VALLEY — Although radio stations nationwide have played a key role in providing trustworthy COVID-19 to the Spanish-speaking community, some have also played a role in spreading misinformation. And radio stations in the Magic Valley are no exception.

“I have heard two or three radio stations in this very market, from Twin Falls and from Burley, where hosts have encouraged people not to get vaccinated. And have encouraged people to take horse paste," Benjamin Reed, radio host for La Perrona Radio Station in Jerome, said.

For La Perrona Radio, the fight against this type of misinformation targeted at the Latino community has been ongoing since the beginning of the pandemic.

“I think we kind of created an atmosphere of promoting the vaccine, promoting a very scientifically-based agenda. Two weeks ago, I had a great interview with a doctor who was provided to me by the CDC,” Benjamin Reed, radio host for La Perrona Radio Station, said.

As misinformation continues to target the Latino population, La Perrona Radio has worked with the South Central Public Health District and other health officials to continue their efforts and combat this issue.

“We have a monthly, and now we are talking about a bi-monthly meeting where we discuss strategy. Where we talk about problems within our community and how to resolve those things. What kind of pieces of information would be best to disseminate to our audience, to the people who are listening to our radio stations and consuming the media,” Reed said.

The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs says although it is hard to pinpoint where exactly this misinformation is coming from, they say a lot of it is spread through word of mouth.

“We still had some people in the community that are role models that were given misinformation, and then it was being misinterpreted. If I put a report out or I put an announcement, it might be interpreted differently by our listeners," Margie Gonzalez, Executive Director of Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, said.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently launched a bilingual digital information hub to help target the misinformation aimed at the Latino community.

With a majority of La Perrona Radio's listeners being Spanish speakers, they say a lot of their listeners believed this information. They say they did everything possible to help combat this issue.

“I will go head-on, and I definitely will make sure that I will do my role to make sure that people are getting the information that they trust. Reliable sources, verifiable things, and I’m going to leave it at that," Reed said.

Although at the beginning of the pandemic, the Hispanic and Latino community were skeptical both the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs and La Perrona Radio Station say they have noticed a decrease in that skepticism.

“And this is a very highly affected demographic big group that has disproportionately been affected. They have realized that it’s not a hoax. It is very real, and it is something that you have to be careful with," Reed said.