Outlets from Korean-language dailies to Spanish-broadcasting powerhouse Univision Communications Inc. attract 45 percent of adults in the largest minority groups several times a week over their mainstream counterparts, a poll commissioned by the nonprofit New California Media shows.
Overall, ethnic media reach approximately 80 percent of the groups studied—about 51 million people.
“This is something that is growing like a giant hidden in plain sight,” said Sandy Close, executive director for NCM, a nationwide association of more than 700 ethnic media groups.
Many turn to foreign language newspapers and broadcasts because English isn’t their native tongue. Additionally, minority media often do a better job covering news from the homeland and other issues the community cares about.
“We have a multicultural society with multimedia choices, so people pay attention to media that pay attention to them. That's the bottom line,” said Felix Gutiérrez , professor of journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California .
Anabel Delgado, 29, a Mexican immigrant who responded to the poll, watches up to two hours a day of Latino soap operas, or telenovelas, and music videos on Spanish language stations.
She favors the news shows in particular because they focus on topics affecting Latinos like immigration.
“The Spanish news seems to let Latinos know more about what interests us, things English channels don't talk much about,” said Delgado, a customer service representative who lives in El Monte, east of Los Angeles.
The survey found that more than half of all Latino adults preferred ethnic media. About 60 percent of blacks and Arab Americans, and a fourth of Asian Americans and Native Americans, opted for such outlets.
Gutiérrez said the poll was further evidence that the news media are fracturing into segments, a trend fueled in part by advertisers looking to tailor their messages to individual consumers.
Some companies see minorities—many of whom are immigrants whose tastes and buying habits are still being shaped—as an untapped market.
Advertising and marketing in mainstream media, about $140 billion a year, is growing about 3 percent annually, according to NCM estimates. For Latino outlets, ad spending is about $3 billion and increasing at 15 percent.
The poll was conducted through telephone interviews with 1,895 black, Latino, Asian American, Arab American, and Native American adults across the country from April to May. It has a margin of error between 3.5 and 10 percentage points, depending on the sample.
Surveys were conducted in Arabic, Cantonese, English, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Poll co-sponsors included the Center for American Progress and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund.
Editor’s Note: Check out New California Media at: http://www.ncmonline.com, with features such as: Dirty Little Secret: Undocumented Workers Are Saving Social Security—such workers pay taxes and Social Security but can’t collect.