According to a recently completed study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, described here in Hispanic Business, stories containing substantial references to Hispanics constituted less than 3% of news stories during a six-month period. The majority of these stories revolved around the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court (more than a third of stories), the outbreak of the swine flu virus in Mexico, and the Mexican drug war. Rounding out these stories was coverage of immigration, though this made up very little of the Hispanic-centered stories.
The article notes that of all minority groups, Hispanics received the most coverage, more so than Asians and African-Americans. Two conclusions can be reached from this story. One is that articles that put a spotlight on the issues facing U.S. Hispanics are woefully missing from mainstream media coverage, leaving Spanish language media to pick up the slack. The other is that minorities, Hispanics included, are so integrated into the fabric of American life that there is less of a need to devote “special stories” to them. I tend to think that the former holds more weight than the latter, although the article concludes, “Hispanics were much more of an American story—58 percent of the coverage with significant references to Hispanics involved domestic news,” the study reported.
We applaud the work of bilingual and Spanish-language media outlets in covering a population that makes up 1 in 6 Americans. We also hope the mainstream media further integrates Hispanics into its overall coverage of an increasingly diverse United States.