Despite Changing Realities, Network Coverage of Latinos Stagnates.

The Network Brownout Report 2005, published by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, finds that despite the significant demographic and socio-economic changes that have occurred among the Hispanic communities here in the U.S., the networks continue to both under represent and mischaracterize the Latino population.

The study was conducted by Federico Subervi, Ph.D. in conjunction with NAHJ staff, and includes quantitative and qualitative analysis of network news broadcasts spanning the last 10 years. Of the estimated 16,000 stories that appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN in 2004, only 115 – less than one percent- were exclusively about Latinos.

The study found that between 1994 and 2004, stories about immigration and crime accounted for a full 36 percent of Hispanic-related news coverage, and that -on the whole- Hispanics were portrayed as a burden to society. Says Dr. Subervi, “It seems as if the narrow framework through which such news [stories] are selected and reported has not changed much from 1995 to 2004, even though during this time the Latino population has grown exponentially, become more socially, culturally and politically complex, and made ever more positive contributions tosociety.”

One positive trend that the study uncovered was that between 2003 and 2004 the number of stories focusing on Latino crime dropped by two-thirds from 27 in 2003 to just 9 in 2004. Nonetheless, the report maintains that network coverage of Latinos in the U.S. must make large strides in its reporting before it can be seen as truly representative of the realities that exist in the nation's Hispanic communities.

Alex Andrews