Out of the Picture: Hispanics in the Media
National Council of La Raza
The "mass media"--an almost undefinable mix of television news and entertainment, feature films, and print materials of all kinds--constitutes an enormous "socializing force" in today's society. The media wields power that shapes Americans' attitudes toward each other and the world. Unfortunately, the media's portrayal of Latinos 1--who constitute at least nine percent of the 1990 U.S. population and are projected to become the largest minority in the country early in the next century has been largely unscrutinized by the press, the federal government, or other independent groups. Given the growing importance of the Latino population, and recent policy debates about the effects of violence in the media on society, it is appropriate that the media's treatment of Hispanics be carefully studied and assessed.
Until very recently, relatively little research has been conducted on the treatment of Hispanics in the media. However, the number of such studies is growing, and existing research has produced remarkably consistent findings. These studies, described in the following section of this report, reveal that:
Hispanics are virtually absent as characters in the entertainment media and as correspondents and anchors in news media.
Latinos are more likely than other groups to receive portrayal in the media that reinforces crude and demeaning cultural stereotypes. Positive media portrayals of Latinos are also uncommon.