July 23, 2013

A Growing Share of Latinos Get Their News in English

I. Overview

PHC-hispanic-media-1-01The language of news media consumption is changing for Hispanics: a growing share of Latino adults are consuming news in English from television, print, radio and internet outlets, and a declining share are doing so in Spanish, according to survey findings from the Pew Research Center.

In 2012, 82% of Hispanic adults said they got at least some of their news in English,1 up from 78% who said the same in 2006. By contrast, the share who get at least some of their news in Spanish has declined, to 68% in 2012 from 78% in 2006.2

Half (50%) of Latino adults say they get their news in both languages, down from 57% in 2010.

The rise in use of English news sources has been driven by an increase in the share of Hispanics who say they get their news exclusively in English. According to the survey, one-third (32%) of Hispanic adults in 2012 did this, up from 22% in 2006. By contrast, the share of Hispanic adults who get their news exclusively in Spanish has decreased to 18% in 2012 from 22% in 2006.

PHC-hispanic-media-1-02These changes in news consumption patterns reflect several ongoing demographic trends within the Hispanic community. For example:

Even though the share of Hispanic adults who consume news media in Spanish has declined, the number of potential Spanish news media consumers is growing as a result of the rapid overall rise in the number of Hispanics in the U.S.—to 52 million in 2011, up from 35 million in 2000. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, a record 35 million Hispanics ages 5 and older speak Spanish (at home), up from 25 million in 2000 and 10 million in 1980. At the same time, a record 31 million Hispanics ages 5 and older are proficient in English, up from 19 million in 2000 and 8 million in 1980.3

PHC-hispanic-media-1-03This report is largely based on a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 1,765 Latino adults conducted from September 7 to October 4, 2012. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For a full description of the survey methodology, see Appendix B.

Among the report’s other findings:

Keeping up with the news

Television is the most popular platform for news, but internet is on the rise

Most Latinos use two or three news media platforms on a typical weekday

News reports from both Spanish- and English-language news organizations seen as “accurate”

Spanish-language media seen as doing a better job covering news relevant to Hispanics

The Changing Hispanic News Media Landscape

While the Hispanic news media landscape has long been dominated by Spanish television, newspapers, radio and internet outlets, a number of new news outlets that offer Hispanic-focused news in English have been launched in recent years.

Websites such as NBC Latino, Univision’s news tumblr and Fox News Latino all provide news coverage of issues relevant to the Hispanic community in English. And soon ABC News and Univision will launch a new cable network, Fusion, that will provide 24-hour news and information programming in English directed at Hispanics.

At the same time, there has been growth in the number of Spanish-language platforms as television networks Univision and Telemundo have expanded their affiliate networks. In addition, new Spanish-language cable channels directed at U.S. Latinos, such as CNN Latino and MundoFox, have entered the market.

About this Report

This report explores news media consumption among Hispanic adults. The data used in this report are derived primarily from the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2012 National Survey of Latinos (NSL), which was conducted from September 7 through October 4, 2012, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia among a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of 1,765 Latino adults. The survey was conducted in both English and Spanish on cellular as well as landline telephones. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. Interviews were conducted for the Pew Hispanic Center by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS).

The report also draws on other Pew Hispanic Center surveys. The 2006 National Survey of Latinos was conducted from June 5 through July 3, 2006, among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 Hispanic adults in both English and Spanish. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. The 2008 National Survey of Latinos was conducted from June 9 through July 13, 2008, among a nationally representative sample of 2,015 Hispanic adults in both English and Spanish. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. The 2010 National Survey of Latinos was conducted from August 17 through September 9, 2010 among a nationally representative sample of 1,375 Hispanic adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

This report was written by Director Mark Hugo Lopez and Research Associate Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. Paul Taylor, Amy Mitchell and Emily Guskin provided editorial guidance. The authors thank Taylor, Scott Keeter, Leah Christian, Gretchen Livingston, Eileen Patten, Guskin, Rakesh Kochhar, Mitchell, Rich Morin, Seth Motel, Kim Parker, Antonio Rodriguez and Tom Rosenstiel for guidance on the development of the survey instrument. Danielle Cuddington, Patten and Motel provided research assistance. Patten number-checked the report. Marcia Kramer was the copy editor.

A Note on Terminology

The terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.

“Native born” or “U.S. born” refers to persons born in the United States and those born in other countries to parents at least one of whom was a U.S. citizen.

“Foreign born” refers to persons born outside of the United States to parents neither of whom was a U.S. citizen. Foreign born also refers to those born in Puerto Rico. Although individuals born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens by birth, they are included among the foreign born because they are born into a Spanish-dominant culture and because on many points their attitudes, views and beliefs are much closer to Hispanics born abroad than to Hispanics born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, even those who identify themselves as being of Puerto Rican origin.

“First generation” refers to foreign-born people. The terms “foreign born,” “first generation” and “immigrant” are used interchangeably in this report.

“Second generation” refers to people born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, with at least one first-generation, or immigrant, parent.

“Third and higher generation” refers to people born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, with both parents born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. This report uses the terms “third generation” and “third and higher generation” interchangeably.

Language dominance, or primary language, is a composite measure based on self-described assessments of speaking and reading abilities. “Spanish-dominant” persons are more proficient in Spanish than in English, i.e., they speak and read Spanish “very well” or “pretty well” but rate their English-speaking and reading ability lower. “Bilingual” refers to persons who are proficient in both English and Spanish. “English-dominant” persons are more proficient in English than in Spanish.

Language of news media consumption is a composite measure based on the language in which respondents say they consume news media from up to four different news platforms: network, local or cable television news; print newspapers; radio; and the internet. Respondents who consume news media only in English are identified as “get news in English only” consumers. Respondents who consume news media only in Spanish are identified as “get news in Spanish only” consumers. Respondents who consume news media in both Spanish and English from any of the news platforms they use or who consume some platforms only in Spanish and other platforms only in English are identified as news media consumers who “get news in both languages.”

  1. Latino adults who consume news media in English may be gathering news from outlets that are focused on issues and themes relevant to the Latino community or they may be gathering news from outlets that are more generally focused on news in the U.S.
  2. In 2004, the Pew Hispanic Center published the report “Changing Channels and Crisscrossing Cultures” (Suro, 2004), which found that three-quarters (76%) of Hispanics consumed news media in English and that 69% did so in Spanish. The report was based on a survey of 1,300 Hispanics and included many of the same questions explored in this report. However, the 2004 data collection is not directly comparable to the 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 data collections since the 2004 survey sample was of those who consume news media and not all Hispanic adults as is the case with subsequent data collections.
  3. U.S. Census Bureau surveys, such as the American Community Survey, ask respondents about their language use. Respondents are first asked if a language other than English is spoken in their home. If respondents answer yes, they are then asked what language that is. In a follow-up question, respondents who say a language other than English is spoken in their home are asked how well they speak English. Respondents who answer that only English is spoken in the home and respondents who answer that a language other than English is spoken in the home but say they speak English “very well” are identified as English proficient.