April 19, 2004

Changing Channels and Crisscrossing Cultures

A growing number of Hispanics switch between English and Spanish to get the news. Rather than two audiences sharply segmented by language, the survey shows that many more Latinos get at least some of their news in both English and Spanish than in just one language or the other.

Even fluent English speakers rely on Spanish language media to get news from

Latin America and about Hispanic communities in the United States, and half of Latinos who were born abroad get at least some news in English. However, in one key segment of the Hispanic population–likely voters in U.S. election–the English-language media is the dominant source of news. More than half of Latino voters, (53 percent) get all their news in English and 40 percent gets news from media in both languages while only 6 percent of likely voters get all their news in Spanish.

The survey’s results indicate that exposure to English-language news media influences the views of Latinos born abroad on a wide range of topics. Compared to immigrants who get their news in Spanish, they have less favorable views of undocumented immigrants, are more skeptical of Bush Administration policies in Iraq and are less trusting of news organizations.

Moreover, Latinos have strong views about the roles the news media play in society. The vast majority of Latinos, including those who only get news in English, view the Spanish-language media as an important institution for the economic and political development of the Hispanic population. Meanwhile, Latinos are broadly concerned that the English-language media contribute to a negative image of Latinos among English speaking Americans.