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A new national study conducted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists finds coverage of Latinos is sorely lacking in U.S. news magazines.
NAHJ released the report today during its 24th annual convention in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The report, conducted by Dina Gavrilos, assistant professor at the Cronkite School, examined coverage of Latinos by Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report during 2005.
The report found that out of 1,547 total stories published in 2005 by these three magazines, only 18 stories (1.2 percent) were predominantly about Latinos. In addition, out of these 18 stories, 12 focused solely on the topic of immigration.
This inaugural study also provided an in-depth analysis of the Latino portrayals found in these magazines. The analysis found that Latino immigrants were often portrayed as a negative and disruptive force in U.S. society.
Even so, the report found six stories about Latinos that portrayed them more positively. For example, these stories examined their growing political power and influence.
Time devoted a cover story to what it deemed the nation’s 25 most influential Latinos that included profiles of activists, politicians and entertainers. Meanwhile, Newsweek published a cover story about Antonio Villaraigosa’s historic election as the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles in nearly 150 years.
The report also found that out of the 1,547 total stories published, 214 (13.8 percent) mentioned or referenced at least one Latino. Although this number seems encouraging, the participation of Latinos in these stories was often not significant. These references occasionally included a Latino that was quoted as a source, but most often, they were merely passing mentions.
NAHJ said in the report: “The National Association of Hispanic Journalists would like to thank the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University for producing an excellent report that we believe established a solid baseline for future research on the coverage of Latinos by our nation’s leading news magazines.”
“We look forward to working with ASU again on future projects that further examine issues affecting newsroom diversity.”
Gavrilos, who served as the project’s lead researcher, was assisted by student researchers Sonu Munshi, Jake Geller and Melody Rodriguez. Associate Dean Marianne Barrett oversaw the project.
“We are proud to be part of this important study and congratulate Dr. Gavrilos and her team on their work,” said Christopher Callahan, dean of the Cronkite School at ASU. “We hope this benchmark study will help the news industry better understand and identify some of the issues associated with the coverage of Latinos so that news products are truly reflective of our diverse nation.”
NAHJ commissioned the report because it sought to produce a companion to its annual research report on television network news coverage of Latinos (Network Brownout Report). It was the idea of NAHJ vice president of print, Rafael Olmeda, to focus on magazine coverage since these magazines are agenda setters for U.S. public discourse.
NAHJ selected ASU’s Cronkite School to conduct the study after a nationwide search for a research team.
“Some of the results were encouraging. Too many others are disappointing. All of them are important,” said Olmeda. “If these magazines help reflect and project an American agenda, they have a way to go before they can honestly say Hispanics are a part of it.”
Founded in 1984, NAHJ’s mission is to increase the percentage of Latinos working in our nation’s newsrooms and to improve news coverage of the Latino community. NAHJ is the nation’s largest professional organization for Latino journalists with more than 2,300 members working in English and Spanish-language print, photo, broadcast and online media.