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Reuters News

U. S. Hispanics Prefer Their News in English, Survey Says


April 19, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Most Hispanics living in the United States use English-language media to stay informed despite a rich offering of Spanish alternatives, influencing their views on key issues like immigration, the presidential election and the Iraq war, a survey showed on Monday.

The preference for English among Hispanics is broad-based and includes native Spanish speakers who were born in Latin America, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Only recent immigrants showed a clear preference for Spanish-language news sources, it said.

Forty-four percent of Latinos obtain their news in both languages, 31 percent in English only and just 24 percent prefer only Spanish media sources.

Three-quarters of Hispanics get some of their news in English, compared with two-thirds that get some of their news in Spanish, the study found.

Many Hispanics will use both languages to stay informed but "over time immigrant Latinos steadily migrate from Spanish to English media," the study said.

Spanish was the news media of choice for 47 percent those who lived in the United States for 12 years or less. The number dropped to 31 percent for those in the country for 13 years or more.

"Given that a majority adult Latinos ... were born either outside the United States or in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth where Spanish is the dominant language, the survey results show that the English-language news media has extraordinary reach," the report said.

Unlike other immigrant groups, Latinos have multiple news offerings in their native language, from Univision Communications Inc. and NBC's Telemundo Communications Group Inc. to the La Opinion and El Nuevo Herald newspapers.

Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States, making up 13.5 percent of the population.

The survey, which had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points, revealed that many Hispanics tended to switch back and forth between language news sources, preferring Spanish news to stay informed of events back home.

"Compared to immigrants who get their news in Spanish, (English-language Latinos) have less favorable views of undocumented immigrants, are more skeptical of Bush administration policies in Iraq and are less trusting of news organizations," the report said.

Asked whether they thought the Bush administration had deliberately misled the public on the Iraq threat before the war, 60 percent of Latinos who get their news in English agreed. By comparison, 51 percent of those relying on Spanish news thought the administration had misled the public.

English is even more dominant among potential Latino voters, of whom just 6 percent rely solely on Spanish media.

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