Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Culture > Pew report reveals mainstream media’s Latino coverage is overwhelmingly negative

Pew report reveals mainstream media’s Latino coverage is overwhelmingly negative

LatinaLista — The big story being picked up from the new report jointly released yesterday by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and the Pew Hispanic Center is how, given the 47-million strong U.S. Latino population, mainstream media coverage of Latinos remains poor.

According to the report:


From February 9 to August 9, 2009, only a fraction of stories contained substantial references to Hispanics–just 645 out of 34,452 studied. And only a tiny number, 57 stories, focused directly on the lives of Hispanics in the U.S.

While that revelation is definitely a sad commentary on how the mainstream media values coverage of the Latino population, the bigger story seems to be that the only times mainstream media thought Latino coverage was worth something was when it was negative.

The top four storylines that referenced Hispanics were stories dealing with: Justice Sotomayor, Mexican drug war, H1N1 outbreak and immigration.

In each of these cases, personal observation shows that the majority of coverage was presented negatively. Stories dealing with Sotomayor dealt overwhelmingly with her “wise Latina” comment and attempts to draw comparisons between races.

Stories dealing with the Mexican drug war, while documenting the bloodbath that is happening south of the border, attempted to create an impression that it had crossed the border in the U.S. – though average border residents didn’t see the violence that was being reported in Mexico.

Mexicans were universally blamed for the H1N1 virus and among the first cases that happened in the United States were either Hispanic residents or Mexican nationals here in this country for treatment.

And last, but not least, is the issue of illegal immigration that is identified more as a Latino issue.

None of the topics when covered had anything good to report, in bulk, about Hispanics — not even the selection of Justice Sotomayor. So, it’s extremely disturbing to know that the only times Latinos are attractive to mainstream media for coverage is when they are linked to poor statistics, racial stereotyping, crime or sensational comments.

Stories that illustrate how the vast majority of the 47 million Latinos in the country are law-abiding, have educational goals, are hard workers, create more businesses, etc. are of no interest.

Even the highly touted CNN special about Latinos felt the bigger story was first-generation, poverty-ridden and incarcerated Latinos. While those situations exist for some, as so with whites, blacks, Native Americans, and Asians, they’re not the typical stories of Latinos as much as mainstream media, who has little insight into the Latino community, portrays.

If there is a clear lesson from this report, it’s not that the Latino community should strive to increase coverage of Latinos — but strive to increase the quality.

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  • cookie
    December 8, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    The media usually only reports stories of sensationlism regardless of the ethnicity of those in the story itself.
    What would you have them report? I don’t see them reporting all warm and fuzzy stories about other ethnic groups because it just doesn’t sell. It is just human nature to watch the news for shock value.
    It is Latinos themselves that have made illegal immigration something strictly about Latinos.
    I wish the Latino community woud stop whining about everything under the sun. It only makes them look like demanding cry babies.

  • José Huitron
    December 9, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    There truly isn’t enough coverage. The coverage is indeed overwhelmingly negative.
    I wish Latino in America for instance, would have focused more on the positives.
    There are a lot of great stories out there!

  • Karen
    December 9, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Sorry Cookie but I can think of lots of positive stories about white people in the news media. Latinos aren’t shown positively at all. For instance did you know that this past summer two American astronauts of Mexican descent were on the space shuttle? The broadcast media ignored them. I hate the media and the people who run it. It’s very racist.

  • Evelyn
    December 9, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    There is a difference between whining like cry babies and making up lies to demonize immigrants because you have no education and are a loser, and fighting for representation, justice and equality not given to some people even though they pay taxes like everyone else.
    Taxation without representation is the reason some of the first Europeans that invaded America revolted against the English by dumping English tea in Boston Harbor.
    These first European invaders of America (whose name has been whitewashed to Americas forefathers) must have been cry babies and whiners too.

  • cookie
    December 11, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Most Americans do not make up lies about illegals so why concentrate on the few that “may” do that? Our objection to illegals should be mainly based on our laws and that is my main objection. There are negatives about illegal immigration other than that but to claim that they are ALL lies is a lie within itself.
    I don’t give a hoot what the first Europeans did long ago. What has that to do with those of us alive today? They weren’t even related to me as my ancestors were Polish who didn’t even come here till the early 1900’s under U.S. law at the time. I don’t recall any wars between the Polish and any tribes native in this country. The tribes native to this country are treated just as any other citizen of this country. Besides, even the so-called natives of this continent didn’t sprout up out of the ground like corn they also migrated across the Bering Strait.
    Those who are illegally entering our country today, their native ancestors were from way south of our border. No one can claim ownership to an entire continent. We are individual countries now and even back then the natives of THIS country would not have allowed the natives from south of our border to invade their territories at will.
    With that kind of logic, then someone whose ancestors were native to the continent of Europe but citizens of Germany only would be able to wander all over and claim the entire continent of Europe and enter any country in Europe they wanted to without permission. Just how dumb is that thinking?

  • cookie
    December 11, 2009 at 11:50 am

    If there is something positive to report about Latinos, it is reported. Sotomayer was appointed SCJ, Villegeros is the L.A. Mayor, Gonzales was appointed to a high position. There are many more success stories reported about Latinos. Besides, why do you need everything broken down by someone’s race/ethnicity? When something positive is reported about a white guy, does the news report that he is white? No, they don’t mention his race.
    The problem for Latinos today is that there is a lot more negative to report because of illegal immigration. Instead of citizen Latinos standing up for the rule of law they stick up for illegals instead. You are all your own worst enemies and then you wonder why?
    Quit having such low self-esteem so that you feel you need to be recognized by your ethnicity rather than by just being an American.

  • Bryan J.
    December 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Dear Latina Lista:
    I agree with cookie to a certain extent, in that the mainstream media these days covers what will sell. What sells is sensationalism(see the recent preposterous coverage of Tiger Woods’ private life)
    However, as I haven’t seen an empirical study about mainstream media’s coverage of groups other than Latino/as, I defer to the Pew report.
    I disagree with this statement by cookie: “It is Latinos themselves that have made illegal immigration something strictly about Latinos.”
    One central reason illegal immigration is most of the time referred to in conjunction with Latinos is because the majority of illegal immigrants hail from countries where the people are Latino.
    In other words, regardless of what any Latino says, illegal immigration is inevitably about Latinos.
    Of course, there are illegal immigrants with origins other than Latin America, but if you added this to mainstream debate, people would get confused.

  • cookie
    December 16, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Most Americans opposed to illegal immigration do so based on our laws. They aren’t failures in their own lives and they aren’t racists. Most of the economical negative stats on illegal immigration are true they are not lies. The fact that many of them are using fake or stolen I.D.’s to work (a felony) is not a lie. Tax evasion by being paid cash to work is not a lie. There are very few “lies” being spread about illegal immigration. It is just that some don’t want us to know the truth.

  • Evelyn
    December 16, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    cookie :
    Most Americans do not make up lies about illegals so why concentrate on the few that “may” do that? Our objection to illegals should be mainly based on our laws and that is my main objection.
    My inclusion of today’s immigrants IS based on laws. Our laws say all people should be treated with justice and equality.
    I interpret that to mean today’s immigrants should be treated equal to other immigrants who have come before them. They should be welcome if they have no criminal past and be made citizens.
    They should not be demonized with racist lies because of the color of their skin or ethnicity. That is not justice, or the American way.

  • cookie
    December 17, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Evelyn, justice? As a general rule illegals are offered justice in this country. Equality? How can you even begin to compare the rights of a citizen to an illegal? Illegals have basic human rights but they certainly don’t have ALL the rights that a citizens does, nor should they. You are taking the term “liberty and justice for all and applying it LITERALLY to illegal foreigners and you know darned well that wasn’t the intent of that term. Are you kidding me?
    Whom you are talking about aren’t “immigrants” but illegal aliens so why are you comparing them to legal immmgrants past or present? We can only take in so many of the world’s poor and make them citizens and we already allow in one million of them legally per year and that is because that is all we can accomodate without hurting our nation. We also have to be fair to all ethnicities that want to come here and not grant larger quotas to one in particular. That is what is happening with illegal immigration. Latinos are taking unfair and unpermitted quotas all on their own. How are we to stay diversifed it this is allowed to continue?
    Why can’t you grasp that simple concept?
    You keep repeating over and over that illegals shouldn’t be demonized or racist lies told on them based on the color of their skin. Well I agree but most Americans aren’t doing that so why are you ranting on about it?
    I am still waiting for you to refute my remarks about the so-called indigenous whom you think have a right to entire continent regardless of whether or not their ancestoral tribes lived in the USA or not and the fact that everyone born in this country has a right to be here and isn’t here illegally. Can’t do it, can you? Take each one of my points and tell me where I am wrong on that subject instead of just screaming the word liar!

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