WASHINGTON -- Hispanics in the United States view Spanish-language news media as important to their community and more likely than English-language media to portray them positively, according to a survey.
Still, the majority of Hispanics get their news either from English-language media or switch between Spanish and English-language outlets.
The poll found 31 percent of Hispanics get all their news in English, 24 percent get all their news in Spanish and 44 percent get their news from media in both languages.
"The preference for Spanish-language media is highest among recent arrivals to this country," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, sponsor of the poll. "It's very clear that the size of the future market for the Spanish-language media depends on the number of Hispanics allowed to emigrate here."
Suro said "the longer Hispanics are here in this country, the more they migrate out of Spanish-only media, either to English-language or to be switchers. There's a question whether the Spanish-language media can still exercise some hold on the second generation of immigrants."
Spanish-language media is a multimillion dollar business in the United States, with half-dozen national newspapers, two major national television networks and many local TV and radio stations and newspapers in urban areas with large Hispanic populations.
Hispanics are evenly split on the question of the English-language media's handling of stories about the Hispanic community. Among those who get their news in English, more were likely to think Hispanics were portrayed negatively, with an excessive focus on topics like illegal immigration and drug dealing and not enough on accomplishments in business and politics.
Fewer than half, 45 percent, said the English-language media have done an excellent or good job of covering news relevant to Hispanics, yet that number is almost seven in 10 for Spanish-language media.
Views of the media's role in society were generally far more positive among those who get all of their news from Spanish-language outlets.
"Only half of the foreign born population gets all their news from Spanish-language media only," said Suro. But he said that "the Spanish-language media is held in very high esteem as an ethnic institution, it is very important to the Hispanic community."
Hispanics who are registered to vote and have cast ballots tend to prefer English-language media. More than half of Hispanic voters, 53 percent, get all their news in English, and 40 percent of that group gets their news in both languages, the poll found.
The poll of a random sample of 1,316 Hispanics was conducted Feb. 11-March 11 by International Communications Research of Media, Pa. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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