On any given day, reporter Claudia Tristán is covering news about local arrests, highlighting interesting people in town, and happenings around El Paso, TX. It is her job to inform and educate viewers. On one particular day however, some viewers had a problem with how she was pronouncing a certain word.
While reporting live on the scene of an accident on the freeway, the Latina journalist finished her segment by saying the name of her location, this being El Paso. Tristán said the name of the city as it reads — in Spanish. El Paso is a Spanish phrase and the literal meaning is “the way.” The historical meaning is El Paso del Norte, meaning “the pathway to the north.” But this is neither here or there, it’s just to show that the name of the city is in Spanish. Her pronunciation is what set off people on Facebook.
One person set off the comments by saying she had an issue with how she pronounced El as in “Al” — which is not the case at all.
If you listen to her speak, Tristán is just saying it in Spanish. Here’s the segment below, and you can hear it towards the end of the broadcast.
One viewer even asks: “What is this a Spanish news station now? Smh.” The video has more than 300 comments, and has been seen almost 20,000 times. It’s gotten far more attention than any other video she has posted. In an interview with HipLatina, we asked Tristán how she handles such negativity from viewers, and what it’s like being a Latina reporter on television.
HL: Is this the first time you’ve received this kind of negative attention?
CT: I’ve received negative comments like these plenty of times before, at my current station and previous ones too. At my previous station I was at a press conference doing another FB Live video. The speaker I already knew from previous stories and knew he spoke Spanish. As the only bilingual reporter for the Fox and Telemundo affiliate in my former market I went right ahead during the presser and asked my Spanish questions for our Telemundo newscast. I left the FB Live rolling and soon after all the trolls came out. My Executive Producer was amazing and jumped on the comment thread quickly. He stood up for me and my bilingualism. I’ve always appreciated that.
While there were haters, there were far more supportive viewers who replied to those people. Many, many people commented saying they were impressed with my ability to switch back and forth in between the two languages. I know that day, as a new face on our news team, I got several loyal viewers.
HL: How has your employer instructed on how to handle negative people on your social media?
CT:I’ve been told just to ignore them and not let it bother me. More often than not I’ll ignore it because so many other people jump up in my defense. That’s the best feeling in the world, when your viewers stand up for you. But there are a handful of times when I have addressed them myself. I don’t like to let nonsense spread unchecked.
HL: How do you not let the negativity affect you?
CT: It annoys me regardless. There’s not much you can do but be thankful that you’re bilingual and have the wherewithal to know you’re pronouncing a word correctly.
HL: Are their TV anchors that have inspired you in the past, or that have shown you how to deal with this kind of situation?
CT:I remember seeing Vanessa Ruiz respond to the negativity she received and it made me feel so proud. I was proud to be a Latina in news knowing she was on my team. I try to remember her comments every time I respond to the haters.
HL: What would you want viewers to know about how TV anchors should pronounce words and/or names that are in Spanish?
CT: I think viewers should be glad that their anchors, reporters, producers come from diverse backgrounds that they know how to correctly pronounce names and words with different language origins. Having a diverse team also ensures you as a viewer that they are going to get more diverse news coverage.