July 1, 2005

NAHJ: Network News Coverage of Latinos is Dismal

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is once again discouraged by the lack of coverage of Latinos on the network evening newscasts of ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC. These networks are among the major sources of television news in the country.

In its 10th Annual Network Brownout Report released today (June 22, 2005), NAHJ found that out of an estimated 16,000 stories aired on the network evening newscasts in 2004, only 115 stories, or less than one percent (0.62), were exclusively about Latinos. This is a decrease from 2003, when there were 131 stories about Latinos (0.82 percent).

Network coverage of Latinos remained dismal in 2004, given the growth of the nation’s Hispanic population. Latinos accounted for 58 percent of the country’s population growth between 1990 and 2000, and currently make up 14 percent of the U.S. population. Out of an estimated 548 hours of network news stories aired in 2004 (32,880 minutes), a scant 0.62 percent (3 hours and 25 minutes) were dedicated to Latino stories.

“The dearth of coverage of Latinos is a disservice to our society,” said Ivan Roman, executive director of NAHJ. “Despite the staggering growth of the U.S. Hispanic population, viewers across the country continue to learn very little about the Latino community by watching network news.”

The Brownout Report also found that Latino stories in 2004 covered a limited number of topics. Overall, 34.7 percent were about immigration (40 stories). That figure climbs to 47 percent when human-interest stories (14 stories) are included and to 66 percent when the topics of homeland security (12 stories) and elections and politics (10 stories) are added.

NAHJ found that Latinos have consistently been absent in news coverage since 1995, and that immigration and crime stories dominated coverage of Latinos. These two topics accounted for 36 percent of all Latino stories aired since 1995. Out of 140,000 stories the networks aired, only 1,201 were about Latinos (0.85 percent).

For the full study please follow this link: http://www.nahj.org/nahjnews/articles/2005/june/NAHJbrownout0616.pdf

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