It’s Official: Media Coverage of Latinos Not So Good

By Jorge Rivas Dec 08, 2009

Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S and as this population grows steadily, so does the importance of how they’re portrayed in the media. The Pew Research Center conducted a media study of 55 U.S. news outlets to look at how they covered Latinos. The study included newspapers, cable and radio programs and the 7 broadcast network evening and morning news programs. And it’s not so good.
"From Feb. 9 to Aug. 9, 2009, only a fraction of all news stories studied contained substantial references to Hispanics — just 645 out of 34,452. And only a tiny number, 57 stories, focused directly on the lives of Hispanics in the U.S." Among the key findings: • During the six months examined, 2.9% of the news content studied contained substantial references to Hispanics.3 That was more attention than any other group studied except for Muslims. Nearly all of the Muslim coverage involved foreign affairs, while the majority of Hispanic coverage concerned domestic issues and events. •The nomination of Sonia Sotomayor made up the largest share of this Hispanic-related news (39%), more than twice than of any other storyline. The Mexican drug war came second at 15%. The outbreak of the H1NI flu (with its origin in Mexico City) was third, at 13%. •In the small portion of coverage that dealt with the experiences of Hispanics living in the U.S., the most common storyline was the effect of the recession. Next was the immigrant experience, after that was population growth and changing demographics, and then the question of fair treatment and discrimination. • Immigration, the number four topic, accounted for just 8.4% of the coverage involving Hispanics during these six months. When immigration was discussed, however, Hispanics were the group mentioned most often. Looking at all of the news about immigration, 34% referenced Hispanics, 10 times that of any other ethnic group.