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New Study Puts a Spotlight on the Latino News Media in the U.S.

  • By Amy Dunkin

A newly released research report from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism is the first attempt to map and analyze the universe of Latino news media outlets in the U.S., including Puerto Rico.

“The State of the Latino News Media” report, which includes an interactive map and directory of more than 600 news organizations, began in the fall of 2017 as a project for the pioneering class of bilingual students in the Spanish-Language Journalism Program.

The research identified 624 Latino news outlets serving a potential audience of close to 59 million people, or almost 20% of the U.S. population.

Graciela Mochkofsky, who wrote the report and heads the Spanish-language Journalism Program at the Newmark J-School, spoke of why it’s so important to understand the Latino news industry. “We cannot separate the future of Latino journalism from the future of all U.S. journalism,” she said. “Yet most mainstream media studies and criticism regularly ignore Latino journalism —as well as pretty much all media serving U.S. communities of color.”

Newmark J-School Dean Sarah Bartlett added that “this ground-breaking research is a great example of our school’s commitment to serving the journalism industry.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • States with the largest number of outlets generally have the largest concentrations of Latino population. There are notable exceptions, such as North Carolina, which ranks fifth-highest in number of outlets but only 11th in the size of its Latino population compared to other states. 
  • Most of the news outlets are written or produced in Spanish, and the audience consists mainly of immigrants, even though a majority of U.S. Latinos are U.S. born and prefer to get their news in English.
  • The news focuses mainly on local and hyperlocal coverage of Latino communities, and even the large national TV networks are moving in that direction.
  • Two giant, competing corporations, Univision and Telemundo, dominate the market. The rest of the industry is made up of myriad medium-size and (mostly) small outlets.
  • Non-Latinos own the two big TV-network corporations, and 23 of the 25 medium-sized metropolitan publications are owned by Anglo media companies. Most of the small publications are Latino-owned and independent. Among the owners, our researchers found a teacher, a musician, and an immigration lawyer.
  • Worries about sustainability and lack of resources are the main concerns of Latino news professionals. The immigrant population most outlets target is declining, and the large majority of U.S. Latinos, who are U.S.-born millennials and younger, increasingly prefer to get their news from the Internet and English-language sources.
  • Most of the journalists are Latin-American immigrants as opposed to U.S.-born Latinos who come from the communities they would cover. Indeed, some media practitioners we interviewed said one challenge is finding experienced bilingual journalists familiar with Latino issues.
  • Innovation — in terms of formats, platforms, engagement, business models, and technology — is coming from a small number of mostly Latino-owned outlets in California, Florida, and New York.