In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Latino Politics and the Media

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Mass Opinion and Behavior
  • Elite Opinion and Behavior
  • Political Knowledge
  • Latinos, Media, and the 2012 Election

Latino Studies Latino Politics and the Media
Federico Subervi, Xavier Medina
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 March 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 March 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0100


Although the study of Latino politics has become more popular in the last decade there are still too few researchers giving adequate attention to the media and the multiple ways it contributes to the political dynamics of the United States’ largest ethnic minority group. This article presents key studies on the intersection of Latinos, media, and politics. It is becoming more apparent that Latino media analysts have much work to do in terms of collecting data and developing innovative research designs that target these important and increasingly relevant forms of Spanish-language political communication. It is no longer adequate to just inquire where Latinos go for “news in general,” but instead researchers should query where Latinos seek news relevant to their own Hispanic background/heritage and as it relates to their social class and political orientations. In this article, seven major topic areas are addressed: media coverage of topics related to Latinos during electoral campaigns, partisan campaign strategies to win Latino votes, survey based research that assess the intersections between Latinos, politics and media, media and mass opinion and behavior, the growing use of Latino media by elites, and Latino media and political knowledge. There is also a separate section focusing on research related to the 2012 presidential election.

Introductory Works

In the years coinciding with Latinos becoming the largest ethnic minority group in the United States, Spanish-language radio, television, and print media news presence has grown significantly. The most dramatic increase in Spanish-language media has been among US newspapers. From 1990 to 2010 there was a nearly ten-fold increase in the number of these publications (New America Media 2010). The fact that Spanish print media presence grew in this period is impressive given that this growth took place despite the 2008 economic crisis and led to a significant number of newspaper organizations closing or consolidating their operations. By 2010 the total number of Spanish-language newspapers remained stable, while the number of English-language, general market newspapers, as well as the largest Spanish-language network, Univision, has continued to expand its market reach at the expense of its English-language competitors (Guskin and Mitchell 2011). As Medina Vidal 2012 finds, trends signaling interest in communicating with Spanish-dominant and bilingual Hispanics are not limited to those of savvy advertisers capitalizing on a growing market: they are of great interest to political elites as well. Public officials are indeed becoming more interested and active in using the Internet and social media tools to transmit political messages to Latino constituencies (Wilson 2009) and are even tailoring Spanish-language messages to address their particularized interests (Medina Vidal, et al. 2009). As Subervi-Vélez and Connaughton 2008 notes, “The mass media do and can play major roles in the political life of Latinos in the United States” (p. 377). However, to “better understand when, where and how that happens requires new generations of research that is more detailed and focused on specific issues, contexts, and methodologies,” as well as “ventures into theory construction that take into consideration the complexity of the Latino population, their communities, and the full range of media available to them.” (p. 377).

  • Guskin, Emily, and Amy Mitchell. “Hispanic Media: Faring Better than Mainstream Media.” State of the News Media 2011. Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2011, Washington, DC.

    Reports on the role ethnic media play in providing news in both foreign languages and in English about places and issues that are often overlooked by the mainstream media.

  • Medina Vidal, D. Xavier. “Voces del Capitolio: Spanish-Language Media in the Statehouse.” PhD diss., University of California-Riverside, 2012.

    An examination of the use of Spanish-language media by state lawmakers and the media’s role in linking them to the interests and preferences held by their Hispanic constituents. Available online.

  • Medina Vidal, D. Xavier, Antonio Ugues Jr., Shaun Bowler, and Todd Donovan. “Two Political Worlds? The Relevance of Language in California Politics.” California Journal of Politics and Policy 1.1 (2009): 1–17.

    DOI: 10.2202/1944-4370.1016

    A study of official Spanish-language political communication in the California legislature and how the Spanish language marks a political divide within the Latino community.

  • New America Media: NAM National Ethnic Media Directory. 2010.

    A comprehensive database of US ethnic media (print, television, radio, Internet) outlets.

  • Subervi-Vélez, Federico A., and Stacey L. Connaughton. “Summary and Conclusion: Recommendations for New Directions for Latino Political Communication Research.” In The Mass Media and Latino Politics: Studies in Media Content, Campaign Strategies and Survey Research: 1984–2004. Edited by Federico Subervi-Vélez, 365–378. New York: Routledge, 2008.

    Concisely summarizes the impact that Latino media have had on campaign strategies, political knowledge, and the content of mass media and communications in the period 1984–2004.

  • Wilson, Walter. “Latino Representation on Congressional Websites.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 34.3 (2009): 427–448.

    DOI: 10.3162/036298009788897754

    The first study of the use of Spanish-language political communication by the US Congress, documenting the utility of the Spanish-language to the representation of Latino interests in Congress.

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