NHMC Poll Finds that Negative Media Portrayals are Fueling Stereotypes about Immigrants and Latinos

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 12, 2012

                                                                                                      CONTACT: Sarah R. Bisconte BravaGuapa@mac.com (914) 310-0467

NHMC Renews Call for Federal Government to Study Hate Speech in Media

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) today released a national poll showing that media portrayals of Latinos and immigrants are fueling rampant negative stereotypes among the general population that are diminishing  perceptions of these groups throughout the United States. Tomorrow the NHMC will file letters with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), sharing this new poll data and renewing unanswered requests that NHMC made back in 2009 for the agencies to study the impacts of hate speech in media. At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Alex Nogales, President and CEO of NHMC, presented the poll findings alongside Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and fellow civil rights activists from the NAACP, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA). “Today we stand together with our allies from the African American and LGBT communities against hate speech in media, and to advocate for more positive portrayals of people of color and LGBT people in media,” Nogales said. “We unite behind this issue as this new poll data shows the propensity of media images – negative or positive – to impact people’s opinions about our communities.” NHMC, through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, commissioned the highly-respected polling firm, Latino Decisions, to conduct the research. The two-part poll included a national phone survey with a sample size of 900 non-Latino respondents and an interactive online experiment of 3,000 non-Latino respondents. The overall margin of error for the national telephone poll is +/- 3.3% and for the online media bias experiment is +/- 1.8%. During the phone survey, respondents were asked a series of more than ninety questions about their news and entertainment habits and their opinions about Latinos and immigrants. For the online portion, respondents were exposed to positive and negative short video clips, print articles, and audio clips. Immediately after exposure to the stimuli, respondents were asked their opinions about Latinos and immigrants. For instance, after viewing just one minute of media content, poll respondents changed the way they view Latinos. When asked if Latinos were intelligent, those who consumed negative news and entertainment pieces were much more likely to rate Latinos as unintelligent, while those who consumed positive pieces were much more likely to rate Latinos as intelligent. Moreover, Nogales called it “disturbing” that the poll found there is a common misperception that Latinos and undocumented immigrants are one in the same, with 17% of survey respondents actually believing that the majority of U.S. Latinos are undocumented. “The media is doing a disservice with coverage that is misleading the public about Latinos who live in the U.S. It is producing attitudes among non-Latinos that contribute to hate speech and hate crimes. We must demand that the media do a better job with its coverage.” The poll also found that:
  • People exposed to negative entertainment or news narratives about Latinos and/or immigrants hold the most unfavorable and hostile views about both groups.
  • Negative portrayals of Latinos and immigrants are pervasive in news and entertainment media. Consequently, non-Latinos commonly believe that many media-promoted negative stereotypes about these groups are true.
  • Conservative talk radio and Fox News audiences are less likely to be personally familiar with Latinos yet more likely to hold anti-immigrant and anti-Latino views. Without direct experience with Latinos, media takes on a larger role in establishing these opinions and attitudes.
  • Even those most disposed to positive opinions about Latinos have less favorable opinions when exposed to negative entertainment or news narratives.
  • In discussing those in this country without documentation, the term commonly employed by some media outlets, “illegal aliens,” elicits much more negatives feelings than the term “undocumented immigrants.”
  • Non-Latinos report seeing Latinos in stereotypically negative or subordinate roles (gardeners, maids, dropouts, and criminals) in television and film.
Furthermore, the poll found that the general public relies heavily on television for news and information, with 66 percent watching major network and cable newscasts and only 30 percent trusting Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks or online-only news sources. Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) was unable to attend the press conference, but issued the following statement in support of NHMC’s work: “We get calls in my office from angry and outraged talk radio listeners several times a week filled with misconceptions and negative stereotypes. The reality is that when you strip away the anger, underneath there is a lot of consensus among Democrats, Republicans, and independents on the immigration issue and how to get things back on a legal footing.  Solutions are within reach.  Talk radio is an obstacle to reforming immigration but not an insurmountable one.” A copy of the full poll results is available at www.nhmc.org/reports. (For broadcast or print interviews with Alex Nogales, President and CEO of NHMC, please contact Sarah R. Bisconte at BravaGuapa@mac.com or (914) 310-0467.)]]>

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a woman-led 501(c)(3) non-profit civil and human rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism toward the Latino communities.
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