NETWORK BROWNOUT 20043
The majority of Latino stories covered alimited number of story topics. Overall,44 percent of Latino stories were aboutimmigration (30 stories) and crime (27stories). That figure climbs to 55 percentwhen human-interest stories (15 stories) areincluded and to 73 percent when the topicsof election politics (12 stories) and celebri-ties (11 stories) are added.
A significant percentage of stories aboutLatinos lacked in-depth coverage. Of the131 stories about Latinos that aired lastyear, 24 percent (31 stories) were less than30 seconds long. Many of these storieswere network news round-up segments.
Stories about Latinos lacked diversity of viewpoint and opinion. Of the 131 storiesabout Latinos, 43 percent (56 stories) didnot cite a single source. In addition, 58percent did not feature an interview witha Latino.
Latinos did not often appear in non-Latinorelated stories. Out of 16,000 stories thataired in 2003, Latinos appeared as sourcesin an estimated 285 non-Latino relatedstories (1.8 percent). Interviews with. Gen.Ricardo Sánchez, California Lt. Gov. CruzBustamante and New Mexico Gov. BillRichardson accounted for 40 percent of thistotal.
Despite the overall lack of news coverage,Latinos were more positively portrayed in2003 with many news stories highlightingthe contributions that Latinos are making tosociety. For example, the number of humaninterest stories increased from 3 in 2002 to15 in 2003. Many of these stories profiledthe service and sacrifice made by Latinosoldiers.
The overall number of crime stories aboutLatinos declined from 47 stories (39 per-cent) in 2002 to 27 stories (21 percent) in2003. Most of these stories portrayedLatinos as the victims of crime.NAHJ’s ninth annual
Network Brownout Report
examined news stories about Latinos andLatino-related issues that aired in 2003 on
ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
CNN NewsNight with Aaron Brown and NBC Nightly News withTom Brokaw
as well as the networks’ weekendnightly newscasts.As in prior studies, Latino-related stories wereidentified by searching the index of VanderbiltUniversity’s Television News Archives. Othernetwork newscasts, including those on Fox andMSNBC, were not included in the study becausethey are not archived at Vanderbilt University.This year’s report contains a quantitativereview of the number and length of stories aboutLatinos. However, distinct from previous years,NAHJ made a more exhaustive effort to identify,select and assess the “Central Involvement of Latinos” in news stories.NAHJ also conducted a qualitative analysisof a sub-sample of stories about Latinos. For thefirst-time ever, NAHJ performed a content analy-sis of news stories that aired during a five-dayperiod (Oct. 20-24, 2003) to further examine theportrayal of Latinos. The goal was to betterunderstand how Latinos appeared in storiesduring a typical news week and to examine hownon-Latino related stories were covered.
The quantitative analysis of the
Network Brownout Report
Of the more than 16,000 stories thatappeared on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC in2003, only 131, or 0.82 percent, were aboutLatinos. While that was an increase from2002, when there were 120 Latino-relatedstories, or 0.75 percent, it still remains a dis-mal record given the growth and importanceof the nation’s Latino community. Latinosmake up close to 14 percent of the U.S.population.
Overall, CNN aired 47 Latino stories thatreceived almost an hour and a half of air time, the most of any network.
Out of 639 hours of network news storiesthat aired in 2003 (38,325 minutes), a scant0.63 percent (4 hours and 2 minutes) wasdedicated to Latino stories.