Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Media Coverage of Hispanics

Hispanics are already the largest minority group in the United States -- accounting for 47.4 million people or 15.8% of the total population -- and that percentage is expected to nearly double by the middle of this century. As their population grows, so does the importance of how they are portrayed in the media.

A study of more than 34,000 news stories that appeared in major media outlets finds that most of what the public learns about Hispanics comes not through focused coverage of the life and times of this population group but through event-driven news stories in which Hispanics are one of many elements.

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., according to a media content analysis done jointly by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Hispanic Center, both of which are projects of the Pew Research Center.

In the six months studied the biggest news event by far that referenced Hispanics was the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latino to serve on the high court. More than a third of all the coverage that dealt with Hispanic people or issues was about Sotomayor's nomination.1

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