I. Overview

PHC-hispanic-media-1-01The language of news media consumption is changing for Hispanics: a growing share of Latino adults are consuming news in English from television, print, radio and internet outlets, and a declining share are doing so in Spanish, according to survey findings from the Pew Research Center.

In 2012, 82% of Hispanic adults said they got at least some of their news in English,1 up from 78% who said the same in 2006. By contrast, the share who get at least some of their news in Spanish has declined, to 68% in 2012 from 78% in 2006.2

Half (50%) of Latino adults say they get their news in both languages, down from 57% in 2010.

The rise in use of English news sources has been driven by an increase in the share of Hispanics who say they get their news exclusively in English. According to the survey, one-third (32%) of Hispanic adults in 2012 did this, up from 22% in 2006. By contrast, the share of Hispanic adults who get their news exclusively in Spanish has decreased to 18% in 2012 from 22% in 2006.

PHC-hispanic-media-1-02These changes in news consumption patterns reflect several ongoing demographic trends within the Hispanic community. For example:

  • A growing share of Latino adults speak English well. Today 59% of Latino adults speak English proficiently, up from 54% in 2006 and 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
  • Slowing immigration. As migration to the U.S. has slowed (Passel, Cohn and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2012), the share of Hispanic adults who are foreign born has declined. Today about 51% of Hispanic adults were born in another country, down from 55% in 2006 and 54% in 2000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
  • Growing time in the U.S. With the slowdown in migration, the average number of years lived in the U.S. among Latino adult immigrants has grown, from 16 years in 2000 and 17 years in 2006 to 20 years in 2011.
  • U.S.-born Latino adults on the rise. Annually about 800,000 young U.S.-born Latinos enter adulthood (Taylor, Gonzalez-Barrera, Passel and Lopez, 2012). Many are the children of immigrants, and a significant share are third or higher generation. These groups are much more English proficient than are immigrants.

Even though the share of Hispanic adults who consume news media in Spanish has declined, the number of potential Spanish news media consumers is growing as a result of the rapid overall rise in the number of Hispanics in the U.S.—to 52 million in 2011, up from 35 million in 2000. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, a record 35 million Hispanics ages 5 and older speak Spanish (at home), up from 25 million in 2000 and 10 million in 1980. At the same time, a record 31 million Hispanics ages 5 and older are proficient in English, up from 19 million in 2000 and 8 million in 1980.3

PHC-hispanic-media-1-03This report is largely based on a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 1,765 Latino adults conducted from September 7 to October 4, 2012. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For a full description of the survey methodology, see Appendix B.

Among the report’s other findings:

Keeping up with the news

  • About eight-in-ten Hispanic adults say they keep up with the news “a lot” (45%) or “some” (36%) and about two-in-ten keep up “not much” (15%) or “not at all” (4%).
  • Among Hispanics who get their news exclusively in English, 53% say they keep up with the news a lot. Among those who get their news in both English and Spanish, 46% say they do the same. By contrast, 35% of Hispanics who get their news exclusively from Spanish-language news platforms say they keep up with the news a lot.
  • Keeping up with the news is also correlated with educational attainment. Six-in-ten (58%) Hispanics who have at least some college experience say they keep up with the news a lot. Among those with a high school diploma, 44% say the same. And among those with less than a high school diploma, one-third (34%) say they keep up with the news a lot.

Television is the most popular platform for news, but internet is on the rise

  • Fully 86% of Latino adults say that on a typical weekday they get their news from television. That is down slightly from 92% who said the same in 2006 but is higher than the share of Latinos who get their news from radio (56%), the internet (56%) or print newspapers (42%).
  • Use of internet news media has grown among Latino adults. Today more than half (56%) say they consume news media on a typical weekday from the internet, up from 37% in 2006.
  • Radio news media and print newspapers have seen the biggest declines in use among Latino adults. Use of radio is down from 64% in 2006 to 56% in 2012. Use of print newspapers is down even more sharply, from 58% in 2006 to 42% in 2012.

Most Latinos use two or three news media platforms on a typical weekday

  • Latino adults on average use 2.4 news media platforms among the four tested—television, print newspapers, radio and the internet—when they consume news media.
  • Looked at another way, 3% of Latino adults do not use any of the four news media platforms tested, 17% use one, 32% use two, 33% use three and 15% use all four platforms.
  • Six-in-ten (58%) Latinos who consume news media in both English and Spanish use three or four news media platforms. Among Latinos who consume news media only in English, 51% do the same. However, among Latinos who consume news media only in Spanish, just 23% do this.

News reports from both Spanish- and English-language news organizations seen as “accurate”

  • When asked if news organizations get their facts straight or are often inaccurate, 60% of all Hispanics says Spanish-language news organizations “get the facts straight” and 59% say the same of English-language news organizations.
  • Assessments vary by nativity. Two-thirds (65%) of foreign-born Hispanics say Spanish-language news organizations get the facts straight, while 53% of the native born say the same. For English-language news organizations, 64% of the foreign born say they get the facts straight while 54% of the native born say the same.

Spanish-language media seen as doing a better job covering news relevant to Hispanics

  • Overall, seven-in-ten Hispanic adults say the Spanish-language news media do an “excellent” (24%) or “good” job (46%) covering news specifically relevant to Hispanics in the U.S. By contrast, about six-in-ten Hispanic adults say the English-language news media do an “excellent” (17%) or “good” job (42%) covering news relevant to Hispanics in the U.S.
  • Among Latinos who consume news media only in Spanish or consume news media in both languages, about eight-in-ten (80% and 76% respectively) say the Spanish language news media does an “excellent” or “good” job covering news specifically relevant to Latinos in the U.S. By contrast, among Latinos who get news in English only, fewer (54%) say the same.

The Changing Hispanic News Media Landscape

While the Hispanic news media landscape has long been dominated by Spanish television, newspapers, radio and internet outlets, a number of new news outlets that offer Hispanic-focused news in English have been launched in recent years.

Websites such as NBC Latino, Univision’s news tumblr and Fox News Latino all provide news coverage of issues relevant to the Hispanic community in English. And soon ABC News and Univision will launch a new cable network, Fusion, that will provide 24-hour news and information programming in English directed at Hispanics.

At the same time, there has been growth in the number of Spanish-language platforms as television networks Univision and Telemundo have expanded their affiliate networks. In addition, new Spanish-language cable channels directed at U.S. Latinos, such as CNN Latino and MundoFox, have entered the market.

About this Report

This report explores news media consumption among Hispanic adults. The data used in this report are derived primarily from the Pew Hispanic Center’s 2012 National Survey of Latinos (NSL), which was conducted from September 7 through October 4, 2012, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia among a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of 1,765 Latino adults. The survey was conducted in both English and Spanish on cellular as well as landline telephones. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points. Interviews were conducted for the Pew Hispanic Center by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS).

The report also draws on other Pew Hispanic Center surveys. The 2006 National Survey of Latinos was conducted from June 5 through July 3, 2006, among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 Hispanic adults in both English and Spanish. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. The 2008 National Survey of Latinos was conducted from June 9 through July 13, 2008, among a nationally representative sample of 2,015 Hispanic adults in both English and Spanish. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence interval. The 2010 National Survey of Latinos was conducted from August 17 through September 9, 2010 among a nationally representative sample of 1,375 Hispanic adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

This report was written by Director Mark Hugo Lopez and Research Associate Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. Paul Taylor, Amy Mitchell and Emily Guskin provided editorial guidance. The authors thank Taylor, Scott Keeter, Leah Christian, Gretchen Livingston, Eileen Patten, Guskin, Rakesh Kochhar, Mitchell, Rich Morin, Seth Motel, Kim Parker, Antonio Rodriguez and Tom Rosenstiel for guidance on the development of the survey instrument. Danielle Cuddington, Patten and Motel provided research assistance. Patten number-checked the report. Marcia Kramer was the copy editor.

A Note on Terminology

The terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” are used interchangeably in this report.

“Native born” or “U.S. born” refers to persons born in the United States and those born in other countries to parents at least one of whom was a U.S. citizen.

“Foreign born” refers to persons born outside of the United States to parents neither of whom was a U.S. citizen. Foreign born also refers to those born in Puerto Rico. Although individuals born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens by birth, they are included among the foreign born because they are born into a Spanish-dominant culture and because on many points their attitudes, views and beliefs are much closer to Hispanics born abroad than to Hispanics born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, even those who identify themselves as being of Puerto Rican origin.

“First generation” refers to foreign-born people. The terms “foreign born,” “first generation” and “immigrant” are used interchangeably in this report.

“Second generation” refers to people born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, with at least one first-generation, or immigrant, parent.

“Third and higher generation” refers to people born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia, with both parents born in the 50 states or the District of Columbia. This report uses the terms “third generation” and “third and higher generation” interchangeably.

Language dominance, or primary language, is a composite measure based on self-described assessments of speaking and reading abilities. “Spanish-dominant” persons are more proficient in Spanish than in English, i.e., they speak and read Spanish “very well” or “pretty well” but rate their English-speaking and reading ability lower. “Bilingual” refers to persons who are proficient in both English and Spanish. “English-dominant” persons are more proficient in English than in Spanish.

Language of news media consumption is a composite measure based on the language in which respondents say they consume news media from up to four different news platforms: network, local or cable television news; print newspapers; radio; and the internet. Respondents who consume news media only in English are identified as “get news in English only” consumers. Respondents who consume news media only in Spanish are identified as “get news in Spanish only” consumers. Respondents who consume news media in both Spanish and English from any of the news platforms they use or who consume some platforms only in Spanish and other platforms only in English are identified as news media consumers who “get news in both languages.”