A News Agency Faces Well-Deserved Backlash After Reporting That Veladoras Are Actually Causing Cartel Activity
Local Atlanta news station WSB-2 garnered a firestorm of criticism on social media after they tweeted out a promo to a story they were airing that night that sensationalized the emergence of veladoras in the Atlanta-metro area. The news station claimed that the Catholic prayer candles devoted to saints were tools used largely by “cartel traffickers” to keep themselves from being captured by the police.
The news station claimed in their Tweets that they would be “investigating” the surge of prayer candles on the streets of Atlanta.
“Cartel traffickers pray to their own set of ‘narco saints’ that make them more dangerous,” the news station tweeted. “@MarkWinneWSB goes undercover to see just how common they are and where they are on display in metro Atlanta”.
They went on to post an equally-alarmist follow-up tweet. “Statues and candles worshiped by drug dealers are popping up across Georgia”. They then posed the question as to if the candles were “making our streets more dangerous”.
Spotting the misleading reporting for what it was, many Twitter users spoke out against what they believed was groundless fear-mongering.
One Twitter user in particular, political expert and British historian Dr. Jennifer Wunder, quickly took action to have the Tweets taken down. Dr. Wunder condemned the Tweet for what she called “irresponsible” reporting.
“Stop this irresponsible nonsense, WSB,” she said in a Tweet responding to the news story. “You are showing pictures of common prayer candles, yet using language & suppositions that evoke both fear & discriminatory behavior from people who don’t know any better.”
She went on to criticize the news outlet for erroneously painting all people who purchase and own veladoras as “dangerous drug traffickers”.
Contrary to the misleading Twitter posts, veladoras, or votive candles, are widely used across Latinx and the larger Catholic community as a way to honor and express devotion to a chosen saint.
Naturally, some common-sense Twitter users called the news station out on their yellow journalism.
The truth is, media coverage like this negatively impacts the way the general population thinks about Latinx communities.
This woman gave the news station a much-needed history lesson.
Anyone who has a basic knowledge of Latinx and Catholic communities know that lighting candles in honor of Saints is not a practice reserved for narcos.
This woman made a very accurate point about the widespread and harmless use of Saint-worship as part of spiritual life in the US.
What’s next? A regular ceremonia de confirmación being reported as a Satanic ritual?
This Latina pointed out the very-likely lack of representation behind the scenes at WSB.
Media content like this is the reason the Latinx community is rallying for more equal representation behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera–without an insider’s perspective on stories that portray Latinx life, it is much more likely that stories will continue to be inaccurately reported.