Conclusions and Suggestions
What follows are preliminary conclusions and suggestions about how to strengthen the Latino news media industry. The list is not definitive. It draws from the information we have collected so far. Our further research, to be published later this year, may yield additional conclusions. We encourage readers of this report to come up with their own suggestions to help inform a more robust industry.
1. There is ample room, and a need, for new outlets
As described in our Location section, we found underserved Latino communities, both geographically and demographically. This presents news entrepreneurs and media companies with a clear opportunity to create new outlets and products.
More local “listening” projects such as El Tímpano would also help entrepreneurs come up with ideas on how to better serve communities. The growing complexity of Latino communities — in terms of language, ethnicity, technological fluency, and political and cultural influence — requires a more complex narrative about the Latino experience than Latino news media outlets have historically delivered.
This is also true for Anglo media, of course. But as we interviewed journalists and entrepreneurs for this report, we heard more than once the criticism that even Latino media — particularly some Spanish-language TV news — can offer stereotyped or simplistic reports. As discussed in our Outstanding Innovation Models section, this was the assessment, too, of many Spanish-speaking Oakland residents surveyed by El Tímpano.
To confirm these opinions, we plan (pending funding) to conduct focus groups in the fall of 2019. We will ask Spanish-speaking, English-speaking and bilingual Latinxs of different generations across the country these (and other) questions: Where do they get their news? How satisfied are they with the information they get? Do they see themselves represented in today’s media coverage of Latinxs? In sum: What are their information needs, and how are these needs being satisfied?
We will also conduct a comprehensive content-analysis study to have a better sense of the content offered by Latino media: What are the news agendas? The main topics of coverage? How do these correlate with Latinxs’ main concerns?
2. The industry needs more Latino owners . . .
The largest Latino news media companies are not owned by Latinxs, a fact that seems directly related to the questions we propose to answer when we add to this report later this year. Our hypothesis is that an industry with more Latino ownership would contribute to new agendas and more culturally relevant content. This is only a hypothesis; more research is necessary. But the examples of outstanding innovation we describe in this report seem to confirm its validity.
Our planned audience-and-content analysis will help provide more answers to the question of ownership.
3. . . . and more sensitivity to gender, sexual-preference and ethnic-diversity issues
As part of our future content analysis, we plan to study the Latino news media’s depiction of women, LGTBQI, AfroLatinxs and Indigenous Latinxs. But our preliminary analysis so far, along with some of our interviews, suggests there is an ongoing concern in the Latino media industry regarding the portrayal of these groups. The industry seems to lag behind the larger public conversation about diversity and representation. There is still machismo, racism and homophobia, we heard, both in some newsrooms and in coverage. (Again, our content analysis will take a closer look at the industry’s output in this regard.) Addressing these attitudes, should they prove pervasive, would not necessarily require new ownership or formats but a new awareness and sensitivity.
4. Outlets should develop media-criticism beats
We were unable to identify any established media criticism focused on Latino news outlets. Among Spanish-language media no media-criticism beat exists. Nor is there a media watchdog organization or the regular, sustained media criticism that exists in the Anglo media industry. We believe that such coverage would have great impact, leading to more transparency and accountability in the industry. It would also create more debate about gender and ethnic issues.
5. More collaboration would maximize resources
When resources are limited, partnerships and collaboration between outlets can be a great solution: They allow newsrooms to maximize resources and cover stories they wouldn’t be capable of covering on their own. Some successful team projects have already proven the value of this type of collaboration in recent years — the many award-winning results of the partnerships between Univision News Digital and both Anglo publications and Central American outlets, for example. Add to that Radio Ambulante’s recent collaboration with Univision, or Latino USA’s collaboration with Centro de Periodismo Investigativo in Puerto Rico. Such reporting networks would also help produce more (and much needed) investigative journalism on issues affecting Latino communities.