April 30, 2004

Hispanics Get News in English

By Amy Fagan

Most Hispanics living in the United States follow English-language news reports to some degree, especially likely voters, according to a survey recently released.

The survey of Hispanics’ choice in news outlets, conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, found 44 percent of Hispanics use both English-language and Spanish-language news to stay informed, 31 percent use English-only and just 24 percent rely on Spanish-language media.

Roberto Suro, director of the center, said it is “striking” that so many use English-language media, especially considering that 61 percent of those surveyed were foreign-born Hispanics.

“These results show that English exercises a very powerful appeal to those who come to this country,” he said.

Among those Hispanics likely to vote in a U.S. election, 53 percent get all their news in English, 40 percent use both Spanish and English sources, and just 6 percent rely on Spanish-language news.

Maria Cardona, vice president of Media Relations and director of the Hispanic Project at the New Democrat Network, said that is why Spanish-language media is still crucial to reaching Hispanics. Two-thirds of Hispanics are watching Spanish-language media or switching back and forth.

The Pew report found Spanish-language media still has a broad reach and value among Hispanics. A full 78 percent of Hispanics across-the-board think Spanish-language news is very important to the economic and political development of the Hispanic population the largest minority group in the United States.

Foreign-born Hispanics tend to watch more Spanish-language news, and 38 percent of them get their news exclusively from Spanish-only sources. Fifty percent use both language resources for the news.

Mr. Suro noted that the longer foreign-born Hispanics are in the United States, the more they move toward watching English news only or switching back and forth.

Foreign-born Hispanics give President Bush higher approval ratings than native born and tend to be less skeptical of Mr. Bush’s policies in Iraq, the report found. Foreign-born Hispanics who watch all their news in English, however, tend to have views closer to those that are native-born.

Ms. Cardona said foreign-born Hispanics, especially recently arrived immigrants, are “up for grabs” politically, because they “don’t have the history or the legacy or the ties to the Democratic party that native-born Latinos may have.”

She said this group is one of the reasons Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts only secured the support of 52 percent of likely Hispanic voters and Mr. Bush had 39 percent in the poll.

Ms. Cardona said Democrats “should not be comfortable” until Mr. Kerry’s numbers are in the high 60s or low 70s among Hispanics. President Clinton’s support among Hispanics was in the low 70s in 1996, and Al Gore’s was 62 percent in 2000, she said.

But she also said she’s not worried because Mr. Kerry is “still an unknown quantity” in the Hispanic community and “his numbers won’t go anywhere but up.”

The Pew Hispanic Center report was based on phone interviews from Feb. 11 to March 11, with 1,316 Hispanics 767 foreign-born and 549 native-born. Of those, 344 were English-dominant speakers, 397 were bilingual and 575 were Spanish-dominant speakers.

Return to the Frontpage