Commentary

Filling Gaps In Hispanic News Coverage Can Engage Audiences

Spanish-language media in the U.S. has significant gaps and biases in their news coverage, according to an academic study published this month. While its findings can be considered distressing, they also point to an opportunity for publishers to create content that will engage a youthful and growing audience.

After searching through almost 700,000 Spanish-language news stories in 41 primary outlets, the study found a dearth of coverage about topics that interest Hispanic audiences, such as the economy, healthcare costs, immigration and race relations.

The number of stories about jobs and healthcare costs, as an example, fell 50% during the 2017-'19 study period, making up 1% of all stories published or broadcast in Spanish, according to the study by the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York. Ronny Rojas, a reporter and faculty member, authored the report for the school's Center for Community Media.

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The report cites other research, saying that Spanish-speaking voters are interested in news about immigration issues, but that coverage tends to rise and fall with major news developments. Coverage of immigration fell from a monthly average of 9.6% of all stories in 2017 to 6% last year, though it jumped in June 2018, when many outlets covered the story of migrant children being separated from their parents.

It's important to consider the study of news coverage in the context of media consumption habits of U.S. Hispanics. Because the median age of Latinx consumers is 28, compared with the general population, which is about 10 years older, Hispanics make up the youngest demographic group in the country, according to a study by Nielsen.

That comparable youthfulness makes digital media a must for Spanish-language publishers that want to reach them with news and information most likely to appeal to their interests.

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