LATINO NEWS CONSUMERS
There are almost 59 million Latinxs in the U.S., about 18 percent of the total population. Latinxs or Hispanics are the largest so-called ethnic group in the country after white Americans. (Latinxs are a multiethnic population but let’s leave that fact aside for the purposes of this report.) Until recently they were the main drivers of growth in U.S. population. The group is now the second-largest driver of the country’s population growth (after Asians). Latino population growth is slowing in part because of the dramatic decrease in Mexican migration since 2008 and in part because younger Latinxs are having fewer children than their parents did. Still, it is estimated that Latinxs will make up 24 percent of the total U.S. population by 2065.
Only one-third of all Latinxs are immigrants. The rest are U.S. born and make up a strikingly young population, millennials (roughly 22 to 38 years old in 2019) or younger. Every year, according to Mark López, director of Global Migration and Democracy Research at the Pew Center, one million Latinxs enter adulthood; in the 2020 presidential election, for the first time in history, more Latinos than Black Americans will be eligible to vote.
But as their political and cultural weight grows, Latinxs, particularly immigrants and those who choose to speak Spanish, have become a target of a political attack coming from the top of the federal government. This has had a huge impact on the population: Latinxs used to be among the most optimistic groups in America. Now they are pessimistic about their children’s financial future and their place in America, according to a Pew Center national survey. Latino newsrooms, where many journalists are themselves immigrants and Latinxs, have reacted to this new political climate with a sense of urgency, as have many mainstream media newsrooms, increasing the coverage of immigration, the border and the federal policies toward Latinos.
There is no publicly available data on audience size for most Latino news outlets, so we can’t be sure how many Latinxs these outlets serve.
It is difficult to estimate how many people actually watch Univision and Telemundo every day, for example. The research departments at Univision and Telemundo sent us data based on Nielsen reports for different time periods: Univision declared a reach of 22.6 million daily viewers (2 years of age and older) on an average day in the 2018/19 broadcast season between September and May. Telemundo declared a reach of 21.8 million daily viewers for the October-December 2018 period. According to Comscore data published by the Pew Research Center, the average audience during the early evening national news time slot is about 1.1 million for Univision and close to 700,000 for Telemundo. In any case, these ratings are competitive with the three largest Anglo TV stations — NBC, CBS and ABC — all of which have seen viewership decline steadily in the past years.
Readership for Latino print newspapers and magazines has been steeply decreasing since 2011, when the technological disruption affecting the rest of the news industry reached Spanish-language media. Today the daily circulation figures for most Latino newspapers is no larger than 35,000 — much smaller in most cases. Latino weeklies and other periodical newspapers have larger circulations, an average 92,000 copies for the top 20 publications.
Digital platforms have, of course, a much larger number of users, although these normally constitute a totally different audience from that of their print counterparts, with a larger share of out-of-U.S. readership, mostly in Latin America. Outlets are struggling to figure out how to monetize the digital audiences.
When it comes to news consumption, Latinx audiences are predominantly defined by two factors: age and preferred language.
U.S. Latinxs are mostly young — two thirds are millennials or younger — and U.S. born. The one-third who are foreign born are mainly immigrants from Mexico and Central American and South American countries. Just half of all Latino adults are immigrants.
And while there are 37 million Spanish speakers in the U.S., a majority of the Latino population is bilingual. Though these Latinxs still get some news from Spanish-language sources, they increasingly prefer to get their news from English-language sources.