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Framing Latinas: Hispanic

women through the lenses
of Spanish-language and
English-language news media

11(4) 425443
The Author(s) 2010
Reprints and permission: sagepub.
DOI: 10.1177/1464884910367597

Teresa Correa
University of Texas at Austin, USA

It is argued that the medias tendency to stereotype minority groups is due, in part, to a
weak identification with them.This study compared the frames used by the Miami Herald
(MH), an English-language newspaper targeted to general audiences, and El Nuevo Herald
(ENH), its Spanish-language counterpart targeted to Hispanics, to explore whether
the stronger media identification with the audience affects the type of frames used to
depict Latinas. Using framing as a theoretical framework, this investigation found that
the MH emphasized the individual achievements of successful women and described
them as a new profitable market. ENH highlighted the family sacrifices of successful
females and depicted them as family-devoted and sensual. As a result, the greater cultural
identification with the audience may avoid manifest negative stereotypes but embrace
pan-ethnic stereotypes that, eventually, may become harmful because they contribute to
the homogenization and racialization of a group such as Latinas.
ethnic media, framing, the Heralds, Hispanic journalists, Hispanic women, Latina,
Latinas identity is simultaneously shaped by their female gender and their Hispanic ethnicity. Therefore, they face a double jeopardy because their identity is partially formed
by both sexual and racial stereotypes (Beale, 1970). Accordingly, a generalized image of
Latinas has pervaded the mass media. Since the media are strong tools to reproduce and
maintain racial and gender stereotypes (Hall, 2003), this representation has shaped the
perception that people may have about Hispanic1 women. Following this widespread
portrayal, one may infer that Latinas are overly sensual but also religious, conservative
and family oriented. They have a Spanish accent and a homogeneous look: slightly tan,
Corresponding author:
Teresa Correa, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin, USA


Journalism 11(4)

dark hair, short and curvilinear. However, these generalizations differ with reality. In fact,
Latinas are a heterogeneous group with different levels of assimilation in the USA, dissimilar cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and diverse physical builds.
The mass medias tendency to oversimplify the portrayal of minorities is due, in part,
to a weak identification with them (e.g. Dickerson, 2001; Heider, 2003). Identification,
as used here, means to share other peoples perspectives and to internalize their views.
Social psychologists (e.g. Linville and Fischer, 1993) asserted that the propensity to stereotype resides in the fact that people perceive members of other groups as less variable
and more stereotypical than members of their own group because they pay greater attention to the attributes of in-group members and are exposed to a larger number of them.
Since the great majority of the US general market media are led and mainly composed
by white middle-class men (Weaver et al., 2006), they would perceive members of other
groups, such as Hispanic women, as less diverse than people from their own group. If
this is the case, one may argue that US Spanish-language media led and composed by
Hispanics would frame Latinas in a different and less stereotypical way compared to US
general market media because they have a stronger identification with their audience.
Although the mass media in general play a role in the reproduction and dissemination
of racial and gender oversimplifications, studying the news genre is particularly important because the stories seem more grounded in reality (Abraham and Appiah, 2006;
Wilson et al., 2003). In addition, the literature barely touches the intersection between
race and gender in the press, especially in the case of Hispanic women, and it lacks comparative studies in this realm.
This study examines and compares the framing of Latinas by two newspapers published in Miami-Dade County, a market highly populated by Hispanics: The Miami
Herald, a US English-language newspaper targeted to general audiences, and El Nuevo
Herald, its Spanish-language counterpart targeted to Hispanics. Framing specifically a
sociological approach taking media frames as a dependent variable is used as a theoretical framework to explore, first, what types of Latinas representations are present in
the news media and, second, to what extent the stronger identification with the audience
makes a difference in the type of frames used to depict Hispanic women. Does the
English-language newspaper reproduce the sensual and family-oriented stereotypes
commonly found in the marketing and entertainment industries (e.g. Dvila, 2001;
Rodrguez, 1997)? Does the Spanish-language newspaper portrayal of Latinas differ
from its English counterpart? To analyze the factors that influence the possible differences between the frames selected by both news media, this study also draws from the
hierarchies-of-influences model (Shoemaker and Reese, 1996).

Literature review
Framing ethnicity
Racial and ethnic stereotypes are powerful framing devices (Abraham and Appiah,
2006). Social psychologists have defined stereotypes as particular schemas that organize peoples perceptions about other groups perceived to be different from their own
group (e.g. Fiske and Taylor, 1991). Stereotyping is used as a psychological mechanism



to manage and categorize new information but it can result in distorted and unfounded
perceptions of social groups (Hamilton, 1975). These inaccurate perceptions may
become an odious tool when they are used to segregate and dominate others
(Ramrez Berg, 1997: 105). The social identity theory predicts that there is an in-group
bias, in which individuals not only tend to see in-group members as more heterogeneous and less stereotypical but also tend to favor them and discriminate against outgroup members (Tajfel and Turner, 1986). People also apply cultural stereotypes to the
self. That is, peoples beliefs about their own social group also influence how they
perceive and treat themselves (e.g. Hogg and Turner, 1987). Interestingly, minority
members are more likely than majority members to stereotype themselves (Simon and
Hamilton, 1994: 699).
One of the domains in which racial stereotypes are reproduced and disseminated is
through the mass media. In the entertainment industry, Latinas have been historically
depicted as virginal, passive, dependent on men or as hot-tempered, tempestuous, promiscuous and sexy (Carstarphen and Rios, 2003; Ramrez Berg, 1997;
Rodrguez, 1997). The marketing industry has also played a role in stereotyping females
with Hispanic origin as family oriented, collectivist, religious, feminine, and with a
generic look long straight hair and olive skin (Dvila, 2001). The news genre is particularly important in the reproduction of stereotypes. Unlike the entertainment and marketing industries, the press produces representations that seem more natural and based on
reality (Abraham and Appiah, 2006; Wilson et al., 2003). Because stereotypes are generalizations that our culture has defined for us, they have been called energy-saving
devices (Macrae et al., 1994). Lippmann (1922: 204) asserted that describing things in
full detail was exhausting. Therefore, using stereotypes is more efficient and effortless,
and journalists, due to time and space constraints, may be more likely to rely on them.
Unfortunately, the study of Latinas portrayal in the news is almost nonexistent.
Most of the research has focused on the construction of the Hispanic identity in general,
and scholars have found consistent patterns: Latinos have been underrepresented as
sources and subjects of news over the years and depicted as a burden for society in
issues relating to immigration, crime and affirmative action (Subervi-Vlez, 2005;
Vargas, 2000). Studies on English and bilingual magazines targeted to Latinas found
that these types of magazines consistently highlighted the stories of Latinas who have
succeeded (Johnson, 2000), provided familial discourses, and criticized the hypersexualization of Latinas (Zazueta Martnez, 2004). Additionally, Molina-Guzmn (2005:
183) analyzed the narratives of English-language national TV networks about Cuban
women using the story of Elin Gonzlez as a case study. She found that the networks
portrayed Elins mother, Elisabet, with the US archetypes of Latina immigrant such as
self-sacrificing, almost-virginal, always-religious ethnic mother who gives up her own
happiness ... so that her child may obtain the American Dream. Although investigations on cross-cultural psychology have found that people with a Latin-American background tend to be more collectivist and attached to the family than Anglo-Americans
(e.g. Hofstede, 1983; Marn and Marn, 1991), the excessive and consistent usage of
these ideas to portray a minority group, such as Hispanics, is problematic because it
homogenizes a social group and highlights its otherness for the majority group (MolinaGuzmn and Valdivia, 2004).


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English-language vs Spanish-language news media

In the English-language news media targeted to a general public, news workers are
mainly white males (Weaver et al., 2006) who have a distant or unclear image of their
audience (Gans, 1979). In the case of the Spanish-language news media, in contrast,
their journalists are in-group members of the US Latino population and have a
detailed conceptualization of their audience (Rodriguez, 1996: 59). Rodriguez
(1996), who analyzed the main newscast of the Spanish-language network Univisin,
explained that both the audience and journalists are first- or second-generation US
residents who have, recently, experienced the immigration process. Additionally, the
journalists who work in Spanish-language news media write to and about their own
community. Hence, they would also share a sense of belonging with their sources of
information. Because Spanish-language news media workers are in-group members
of the Hispanic population with strong links to their audience and sources, research
would expect to find not only different frames to describe Latinas but also less stereotypical constructions.
According to the hierarchies-of-influence model (Shoemaker and Reese, 1996),
nevertheless, the individual news workers are only the first level of the hierarchical
model that has an impact on the media content. They argue that journalists gender or
ethnicity, and their personal backgrounds shape their attitudes and beliefs. These factors affect content as long as the news workers have enough power within the organization to supersede other media variables, such as routines, organizational constraints
and external pressures. Findings on the impact of communicators demographics on
media content are inconclusive. While some scholars have argued that such an influence exists (e.g. Craft and Wanta, 2004; Rodgers and Thorson, 2003), others have
asserted that the effect is minor due to organizational constraints (Gans, 1979; Liebler
and Smith, 1997).
Embedded ideologies may also decrease individual news workers ability to shape the
news content. bell hooks (1992: 1), argued, for instance, that racial ideologies might be
reflected in the black press by Black Americans who may see the world through the lens
of white supremacy. Although about 90 percent of the reporters and managers of
Spanish-language news media are foreign-born Hispanics, more than half of them have
been trained in American universities (Subervi-Vlez, 2004). This US socialization
embeds them in similar routines and ideological influences to white journalists who
work in a general market outlet. For instance, they tend to use the same institutional
sources and are exposed to the same frames used by prestigious news media (Rodriguez,
1996). They are also embedded in US ideological tenets such as the values of free market
and individual achievement (Shoemaker and Reese, 1996). Content analyses of Univisin
and ABCs newscasts have found that although Univisin provided more information
relevant to Latinos, the style of both broadcasts was similar and they relied on the same
official sources (Rodriguez, 1996). Furthermore, they covered the same types of stories:
crime and human interest (Moran, 2006). Thus, it could be argued that the US assimilation of Spanish-language media practitioners may lessen their ability to portray Latinas
differently from their white counterparts.



Pan-ethnic identity
The diversity and complexity in the Spanish-language medias news production are also
threatened by the construction of Latino pan-ethnicity a generalization that replaces
national identities and creates a new one based on the Spanish language and Ibero-Latin
American heritage (Mayer, 2001; Rodriguez, 1999). The creation of a homogenized
Latino identity has been entangled with the development of Spanish-language television
and national Hispanic marketing industry since the 1960s and 1970s (Dvila, 2001;
Mayer, 2001). At that time, the Latino marketers mostly from Puerto Rico and Cuba
did not rely on research, but on their life experiences. Thus, the image of Latinos was
grounded in Caribbean identities (Dvila, 2001). To date, the pan-ethnic approach is
deeply ingrained in the Spanish-language media and the economic survival of the Latino
media depends on its maintenance (Rodriguez, 1999).
Despite the current use of research, most of the Hispanic image that was previously
created remains unchallenged. For instance, marketing books on how to reach Hispanics
use stereotypical descriptions to portray Latinas, such as engine of their family, romantic,
conscious of their appearance and active buyers of personal care products (e.g. Valds
and Seoane, 1995: 333). Given the journalists socialization in the American culture and
the emphasis in this pan-ethnic creation, it is not clear to what extent or in what ways the
Hispanic media practitioners identification and connection with their audience influence
the frames they select to depict Latinas.

Womens portrayal
Because in this study ethnicity intersects with gender, the well-studied stereotypes based
on gender may influence the frames used by the press to portray Latinas. Although the
racial ideologies may differ between English- and Spanish-language media, the archetypical representation of women is likely to pervade both types of media. Since the 1970s,
various studies have consistently found that women and men are represented by a binary
model: males are characterized as part of the public domain while women, besides being
underrepresented, are portrayed within a domestic or family frame of reference, highlighting the ideas of care, compassion and motherliness (e.g. Ross, 2002; Seidman
Mildburn et al., 2001; Tuchman, 1978). The literature suggests that this discourse is influenced by masculine concepts and practices because most media professionals and managers are men who yield to a masculine hegemony (Len-Ros et al., 2005). In the case of
Latinas, the domestic and family frames of the press would be interconnected with
religiosity, sexuality and self-sacrifice (Molina-Guzmn, 2005; Zazueta Martnez, 2004).

The framing paradigm

The media framing approach is used here to examine whether there is a difference
between English- and Spanish-language news media in the way they depict Latinas, and
to explore how the identification of journalists with the audience and the cultural context
may explain the divergences or similarities. Framing has been described as a fragmented


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paradigm because it lacks a common theoretical framework (Entman, 1993; Scheufele,

1999). This study uses a sociological approach, taking media frames as dependent variables (Gitlin, 2003[1980]; Hertog and McLeod, 2001). This approach seems appropriate
because it emphasizes the potential factors such as journalists attitudes or ideologies
that intentionally or unintentionally influence the news production. A definition that
captures this process, developed by Reese, notes: Frames are organizing principles that
are socially shared and persistent over time, that work symbolically to meaningfully
structure the social world (2001: 11). This definition emphasizes that frames are durable
and shape the discourse through symbolic devices that may be explicit or embedded in
the discourse (Reese, 2001). According to Hertog and McLeod (2001), these framing
devices include metaphors, myths and narratives. Additionally, Entman (1993) proposes
that frames may be manifested in the text through the inclusion or exclusion of certain
keywords, stereotyped images and sentences that reinforce judgments.
These theoretical foundations and literature generate the following research questions:
RQ1: What frames are most frequently used by the US Spanish-language newspaper
El Nuevo Herald to portray Latinas?
RQ2: What frames are most frequently used by the English-language newspaper the
Miami Herald to portray Latinas?
RQ3: Is there a substantial difference between the frames used by the Spanishlanguage publication El Nuevo Herald compared to the frames used by the
English-language newspaper The Miami Herald?

This study employs both qualitative and quantitative analyses. Bridging both approaches is
critical. While a qualitative description gives a thorough understanding and interpretation
of the issue (Reese, 2001), the quantitative part adds reliability to the study and reduces the
subjectivity in the frames identification (Hertog and McLeod, 2001; Tankard, 2001).
In order to make the Spanish- and English-language news media as comparable as
possible, controlling the factors that influence the media content and isolating the impact
of journalists identification with their audience, this study analyzes the general-market
newspaper Miami Herald (MH), and its Spanish-language companion El Nuevo Herald
(ENH). Both dailies are published in Dade County, Florida and have had the same owner:
Knight Ridder and, since 2006, McClatchy Company. Given that Miami-Dade County is
perhaps the most bilingual area in the USA 60 percent of the population is Hispanic
(US Census Bureau, 2005) the MH has a larger number of Hispanic readers compared
to ENH (Miami Herald Media Company, 2006).2 However, the two dailies have distinct
conceptualizations of who their audience is and what news is (Rodriguez, 1999: 125).
ENH highlights news about Latin America and Latinos, especially Cubans (Rodriguez,
1999), while the MH has to fulfill the interests of a wider and more complex audience,
composed mostly of Hispanics (43%), whites (32%), and African Americans (20%)
(Miami Herald Media Company, 2006).
Generated as an insert of the MH in 1976, ENH became independent in 1998. Although
it is located on the sixth floor of the MHs building, it has its own staff of about 65 Latino



journalists who represent 14 Latin American nationalities (Gutirrez, 2001; MolinaGuzmn, 2006). Although the MH also has Hispanic journalists in its own staff, they
represent a minority within the newsroom (ASNE, 2008). Considering that language
proficiency is a good measure of acculturation (Marn and Gamba, 1996), one may argue
that because MHs news workers must have strong English-language skills to work in an
English-language publication, their level of assimilation into the US culture might be
higher compared to ENHs journalists.
Both publications make their editorial decisions independently and compete with each
other (Clary, 2000). This current editorial independence has a long and, at times, controversial history. For instance, after the Cuban exiles in Miami protested against the MH for what
they considered as the newspapers liberal political editorials (Rodriguez, 1999), Knight
Ridder decided to separate the newspapers. ENH became a publication with its own style
a colorful broadsheet with shorter stories and larger pictures and took a more aggressively anti-Castro approach in its coverage (Gutirrez, 2001: 38), which permitted the MH
to distance itself from the Cuban community (Molina-Guzmn, 2006: 293).3 Despite these
differences, both publications tend to take a more conservative approach by excluding liberal Cuban voices calling for dialogue with Castro (Molina-Guzmn, 2006; Clary, 2000).
To compare the frames used by both newspapers, the articles of the MH and ENH were
selected by LexisNexis and Ethnic NewsWatch searches, respectively, between 2000 and
2006, using terms regarding Hispanic women.4 After eliminating four duplicate articles,
the search yielded a total of 188 news stories (ENH = 112, MH = 76). Fifty articles randomly chosen from the sample (ENH = 30; MH = 20) were read to identify framing mechanisms and construct a content analysis codebook for the quantitative analysis. A thorough
reading of the articles helped to identify embedded frames and interpret the results.
Following the approach of Hertog and McLeod (2001) of linking core concepts with
peripheral ideas, six major frames (i.e. success, attractive consumer, sensuality, oppression, affirmative action, and family devotion) and their corresponding subframes were
identified in the qualitative assessment. The definition of each frame was based on metaphors, catchphrases, keywords, and stereotyped images. As part of the qualitative examination, interviews with two journalists that at the time of the investigation worked at the
MH and ENH, respectively, were conducted in order to contextualize the findings.
In the quantitative assessment, the stories were examined by a content analysis. The
coding scheme contained identification variables (i.e. story ID, name of the newspaper,
gender and ethnicity of the byline) and the list of core frames and subframes. Using the
news story as unit of analysis, the most salient and manifest frames were coded based on
their inclusion (coded as 1) or exclusion (coded as 0). The method was to identify one
major frame per story through the headline, lead, picture caption and/or consistent repetition of certain ideas in the discourse. The subframes less prominent and dependent on
the major frame were identified through the provision and repetition of framing devices
throughout the news story. Each story was classified under one major frame but could
have several subframes. For example, a story about a successful Latina that highlights her
achievements in the headline would be organized around the success frame. The text may
mention other ideas, such as her pioneer condition (the first Hispanic woman who ),
family sacrifices (the costs she assumed to obtain that position) or her sensuality (this
sexy top executive ). These descriptions would be classified as subframes.


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The author coded all articles. To calculate the intercoder reliability, a random subsample of 10 percent of all articles was coded by a second coder, a journalism graduate
student, who received the list of frames and subframes. Holstis coefficient of reliability
formula5 ranged from 100 percent agreement for the articles identification variables to
89 percent for one of the frame variables.

Framing Latinas by El Nuevo Herald
The first research question asked for the most frequent frames used by ENH to depict
Latinas. The success, oppression, family devotion, and sensuality frames were the most
prominent in the Spanish-language publication.

Table 1. Frames and subframes of news stories about Latinas

F Success
SF Overcoming
SF Hardworking
SF Pioneer
SF Family sacrifice
SF Discrimination
SF Sensuality
F Attractive consumer
SF Beauty product consumer
SF Entertainment product consumer
SF Sensuality
F Affirmative action
F Sensuality
SF Oppression
SF Family devotion
SF Success
F Family devotion
SF Economic sacrifice
SF Self-sacrifice
F Oppression
SF Political oppression
SF Economic oppression
SF Sexual oppression
F Other
Total percentage**

El Nuevo Herald
(% of stories)

Miami Herald
(% of stories)




p < .05
p < .05
p < .05
p < .01
p < .001
p < .05
p < .01
p < .05
p < .01
p < .10
p < .05
p < .05
p < .10
p < .05

Notes: F = Frame; SF = Subframe; n.s. = not significant

* The comparison did not need an analysis of statistical significance because the population analyzed was a
census of newspaper stories instead of a sample. However, a z-test (test of proportions) was conducted for
illustrative purposes.
**The total percentage does not add to 100 because of rounding.



Success frame. The success frame was identified using some of the following keywords,
metaphors and catchphrases: professionally well-known, star, Latinas at the top of
the executive world and successful career. The most important and persistent idea used
by ENH to depict Latinas was success. Almost half of the 112 news stories of ENH were
organized around this frame (see Table 1). In ENH, the idea of successful Hispanic
women was associated with other subframes, such as overcoming, hardworking, family
sacrifice and sensuality. When the stories used the success frame, they often highlighted
the idea that Latinas had to surmount obstacles and work hard to achieve their goals. For
instance, the lead of an article stated: Priscilla Coln has faced every challenge presented in the business world in order to achieve her goal of building an enterprise with
her own style6 (Kenny, 2006). An example that reflects the hardworking subframe
affirmed: Since her debut Elizabeth Pea hasnt stopped working. The Cuban
American actress is always busy ... (Palacios, 2004). In 13 percent of the pieces the success frame was associated with family sacrifice. Many stories suggested that Latinas,
although successful in the public sphere, are not absolved of the responsibility for the
domestic realm. For example, an article about Latinas who have reached executive positions stated in the kicker: She doesnt deny that this new responsibility means a little
sacrifice but she is convinced that if she starts her labors very early in the morning she
can take her children to the school (Kenny, 2004).
In 12 percent of the stories, the success frame was linked with the sensuality subframe. ENH subtly included this subframe, describing how the women were dressed or
adding adjectives, such as sensual and beautiful, when it referred to women who have
succeeded in the public sphere. For example, the picture caption of a story about a successful race-car driver stated: Milka Duno, as beautiful7 as she is intelligent with the
steering wheel, will make history tomorrow in the Sebring [race] (Ebro, 2002). A second
example emerged in the leading paragraph of a story about a lawyer who specialized in
civil rights. The second sentence of the lead stated: Behind her calm and sensual image
is hidden an energetic woman tirelessly devoted to the defense of civil rights (Cancio,
2004). These two examples are specially revealing of how ENHs journalists reproduced
this stereotype in stories about women who had succeeded professionally, independent
of their beauty or sensuality.
Oppression frame. This frame depicts Latinas as victims and hampered by adverse conditions. This idea present in 15 percent of the stories was divided into three subframes:
political, economic and sexual oppression. As Table 1 shows, the most relevant subframe in ENH was sexual oppression. Many stories about health are organized around
this subframe, in which Latinas are depicted as unwilling and frightened to talk about
their sexuality, and as dependent on their husbands. For example, a story about the
increasing impact of AIDS on Latinas affirmed: Frequently Hispanic women are reticent to talk about precautions in sexual acts because theyre afraid of being rejected [by
their husbands] (Quiones, 2004).
Family devotion frame. This frame manifests that family is the first priority for Hispanic
women, using phrases such as Hispanic moms put careers on hold, matriarchal society, Hispanic women grow healthy children. Table 1 reveals that 13 percent of the


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stories of ENH were organized around the family devotion frame. Almost half of the
articles were associated with the self-sacrifice subframe. They showed how Latinas tend
to put their families first at the expense of their own lives. A story about psychological
depression among Hispanic women affirmed, for instance, that they do not receive treatment because they tend not to complain about their discomforts because they dont want
to worry their beloved ones (Hansen, 2003).
Sensuality frame. The keywords and catchphrases that acted as devices in this frame were
sensual, voluptuous, exotic, form-fitting clothes, scantily dressed, Latin beauty,
buxom women and spicy. Although this idea emerged as a subframe, it also appeared
as the most prominent idea in 10 percent of the stories (see Table 1). For example, an
article whose headline asserted Jennifer Lpez: Latin twister also stated in the kicker:
It is indisputable that Jennifer Lpez is Latina: Physically, she is exotic, olive-skinned
and voluptuous . In the text, it reaffirmed the same idea: Latinas, in general, and
Jennifer Lpez, in particular, transmit an innate sensuality that with very few exceptions
is not found among non-Hispanic actresses (Cotayo, 2005).
In sum, ENH paid strong attention to the triumphs of overcoming and hardworking
Latinas but it also highlighted the family sacrifices of these successful females and tended
to stereotypically portray them as sexually oppressed, family devoted and overly sensual.

Framing Latinas by Miami Herald

The second research question asked for the most frequent frames used by the MH to
portray Latinas. The success, attractive consumer, affirmative action and oppression
frames were the most relevant ideas in the English-language publication.
Success frame. As Table 1 shows, 32 percent of the articles used the success frame. In the
MH, this idea was mainly associated with the overcoming and pioneer subframes. The
English-language newspaper emphasized the individual achievements of Hispanic
women, and highlighted the status of being the first who broke the barriers. For example,
a story about a Latina who was named regional manager of McDonalds included these
two subframes. In the headline, it stated: Hispanic woman reaches regional manager of
South Florida McDonalds. In the lead paragraph, it highlighted that she built her career
from the bottom up: Livia Combs started out flipping burgers while she was in high
school. Today, as McDonalds regional manager in South Florida, she runs an almost
$400 million business. In the second paragraph, it emphasized her pioneer status: As the
first Hispanic woman in the nation to reach that position (Johnson Brackey, 2000).
Attractive consumer frame. The attractive consumer frame describes Latinas as a new
profitable market niche. This frame was the second most frequently used by the MH 29
percent of the stories were organized around it. The stories almost evenly described
Latinas as consumers of beauty and entertainment industries (see Table 1). The beauty
product consumer subframe was identified using phrases such as Latinas have priority
on beauty products, cosmetics business targets Hispanic women, Latinas will have a
line of hair-care. Latinas were portrayed as women who invest their money in cosmetics



and clothes to enhance their appearance. Although the sensuality frame was used less in
the MH than in ENH, the English-language newspaper subtlety alluded to this stereotypical image under this subframe. For instance, an article about the expansion of Sears
to the Hispanic market asserted in the first paragraphs:
Norma Rodriguez was impressed as she perused the clothing racks at the Sears in Coral Gables
the colors were vibrant, the styles fashionable ... This is nice now, said the petite Cubanborn Miami resident not everybody is tall and thin. Spanish women, we have a lot over
here. She slapped her hip ... Rodriguez is exactly the type of costumer that Sears is aiming to
please. (Hoag, 2004)

In the entertainment-product consumer subframe, Latinas were usually depicted as an

attractive but underserved marketable group that did not get attention from the entertainment market. This subframe was identified with keywords and phrases such as underserved niche, a lifestyle channel aimed at Hispanic women. An example is shown in
the following quote:
Discovery started researching opportunities to lure more US Hispanic viewers and came up
with two underserved, underprogrammed niches: shows for children and women... If youre
a Hispanic woman, your choice is a lot of soap operas and general entertainment and nothing
else, Silberwasser [the vicepresident of the US Hispanic division] said. (Hoag, 2005)

Affirmative action frame. This idea present in 13 percent of the MHs articles represents
Latinas as a minority group that needs attention from NGOs and governmental agencies.
Some phrases that worked as devices in this frame were: a scholarship for someone like
me, lesbian and Latina, judges urged to act proper with minorities. For instance, a story
reports in the lead paragraph: Minority and women-owned companies are not getting
their fair share of public dollars from Broward County (Reinhard, 2001).
Oppression frame. Thirteen percent of the stories were organized around this idea. Although
the MH used the sexual oppression subframe more, the political and economic subframes
were also prominent. Political oppression may be especially relevant for the Heralds
because a great majority of the Hispanic population in South Florida is Cuban. They are
represented by the press as victims of political exile. The economic subframe, in turn, highlights the hardships of immigrants. For example, one story about the new Cuban exodus
portrays Cuban women as both politically and financially oppressed: (Barbarita) Herrera
has a hatred of the government she left behind Sometimes I feel like just giving up and
going back, she said. But I cant go back to that system. Castro really has to fall. In
another paragraph, the story refers to the economic hardships: (Tamara) Herrera has struggled to cope with the sense of dislocation of a new land. The problems she worries about
are common: having enough money to buy medicine for her sick daughter (Corral, 2006).
Briefly, the MH highlighted the individual achievements of successful Latinas and
described them as a new profitable market. It also depicted them as a minority group that
is the victim of political and financial oppression and needs particular attention from the
government and NGOs.


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Differences between the MH and ENH

The third research question asked whether there is a difference between the frames used
by the English-language newspaper compared to its Spanish-language companion to
portray Latinas. Table 1 shows that there were important differences in every frame,
except for oppression, even after controlling for the gender of the journalists.8
Success through different lenses. Although success was the most relevant frame used by
both newspapers to portray Latinas, the publications used different approaches to this
idea. Both the MH and ENH evenly used the overcoming, hardworking and pioneer
subframes. However, ENH also included ideas such as family sacrifice, sensuality and
discrimination that were scarcely present in the MH.
Attractive consumer vs attractive and devoted woman. The attractive consumer frame was
much used in the MH while in ENH it was almost nonexistent. In contrast, the sensuality
frame was used significantly more by the Spanish-language paper than by its English
counterpart (see Table 1). Similarly, ENH also used another stereotypical and feminine
frame of reference to portray Latinas family devotion. In other words, while the general
market outlet described Latinas as a new profitable market, the ethnic publication highlighted Latinas as sensual, beautiful, exotic and devoted to family.
Need of special assistance. While the affirmative action frame was important for the MH,
it was irrelevant for ENH (see Table 1). Only the English-language publication transmitted the idea that Latinas make up an underserved minority group that needs special attention from NGOs and governmental agencies.
Same view on oppression. In the case of oppression and its respective subframes, there
were no substantial differences between the papers and the media equally represented
Hispanic women as politically, economically and sexually oppressed.
In sum, the frames used by ENH and the MH differed substantially. Although both
publications portrayed Latinas as successful women, they focused on different aspects.
For instance, while ENH emphasized the family sacrifices to achieve their goals, the MH
highlighted their pioneer condition.

Analysis and conclusion

The goal of this study was to compare the framing of Latinas by the Miami Herald and
El Nuevo Herald to explore whether stronger media identification with the audience
influences the type of frames used to depict Hispanic women.

ENH and its reproduction of well-known stereotypes

This study found that ENH emphasized the triumphs of overcoming and hardworking
Latinas but it also highlighted the family sacrifices of these successful women to achieve
their professional goals. This finding supports the idea that one key function of the ethnic



media is to promote ethnic pride and community empowerment (Johnson, 2000). It also
reveals, however, that ENH linked the idea of success with the archetype of Latinas as
family oriented and self-sacrificing, which has been used by the general market media to
portray this minority group (Molina-Guzmn, 2005). Similarly, this investigation found
that the ethnic publication described Latinas as family devoted, sensual and sexually
oppressed, which correlates with the stereotypes commonly found in the marketing and
entertainment industries of Latinas as virginal, passive, dependent on men and sexy
(e.g. Dvila, 2001; Rodrguez, 1997).
From these results, one may conclude that ENHs greater identification with the audience did not yield to the usage of less stereotypical frames. This finding is troubling
because the press produces representations that seem more grounded in reality than the
images created by the films, TV shows or ads (Wilson et al., 2003).
Why does the Spanish-language newspaper, despite its identification with the audience,
reproduce commonplaces about Latinas? One possible explanation for the phenomenon is
the use of self-stereotyping. The literature shows that people might apply stereotypes to
perceive and depict their own community, especially if they are members of a minority
group (e.g. Hogg and Turner, 1987; Simon and Hamilton, 1994). Hispanic journalists are
part of a minority group, whose stereotypical portrayal is overly pervasive, and work under
time and space constraints. Hence, they might rely on shortcuts and transmit those generalizations. In addition, since journalists who work for ENH are in-group members of the
Latino population, they might be less likely to be blamed for racial attitudes.
Regarding the family-devotion and family-sacrifice frames, it is probable that family values are extensively displayed by many Hispanics. Research in cross-cultural
and ethnic-minority psychology has identified that individuals of a Latin-American
background tend to be more collectivist and show a greater attachment to the family
than Anglo-Americans (e.g. Hofstede, 1983; Marn and Marn, 1991). Therefore, the
attitudinal characteristics of the news workers and embedded ideologies of Hispanic
culture the first and last factors of the hierarchical model that shape the media content (Shoemaker and Reese, 1996) might have played a role in the way ENH covered
Latinas. Hispanic media may reproduce this idea more easily not only because their
news workers are immersed in that culture but also because they suspect that for their
audience the family is also important. As one Latino journalist of the MH who also
worked at ENH admitted:
The family is a sensitive point for Latinos. Among Latin-American immigrants, the family
roots are deep our experiences help us to think and shape our coverage But you also have
to understand the interests [of your audience] or what is out there.9

In the case of sensuality, two possible reasons may explain the emergence of this stereotypical frame in ENH. One is the construction of the pan-ethnic identity, which homogenizes national identities and disseminates a monolithic image about the Hispanic
population (e.g. Latinas are sexy). The results show that those images are not only
ingrained in the mass media in general (movies, entertainment shows and marketing ads)
but also in the news genre. A second possible reason is that the strong presence of Latina
artists who highlight their sensuality (e.g. Jennifer Lpez, Salma Hayek) may enhance


Journalism 11(4)

the likelihood of reproducing the widespread image because it is more available to the
journalists and the audience, especially in Miami. One editor of ENH explained:
Miami is an entertaining city, with many shows So, the stereotype of the sensual Latin
woman, with these movements, may be reflected [in the paper] because there are many shows.
Since this idea is overly present, its easy to reproduce it.

Although ENH does not use this sexualized frame in a manifestly negative way and tries
to boost a desirable image of Latinas, the consequences of its usage are problematic.
According to Molina-Guzmn and Valdivia (2004: 211), the trope of tropicalism characterized by sexualized bodies, bright seductive clothing, olive skin and rhythmic music
erases specificity and homogenizes all that is identified as Latin and Latina/o. Further,
Latinas beauty and sexuality mark them as other for Anglo-Americans. Although this
otherness may make them desirable, it contributes to their racialization and exoticization
(Molina-Guzmn and Valdivia, 2004).

MH and Latinas as others

The MH emphasized the individual achievements of successful and hardworking Hispanic
women. It also described them as a new profitable market for the marketing and entertainment industries. The paper consistently reproduced the idea that is recurrently heard in
the marketing companies and conventions that Latinos are the hottest new market and
those who target them will not regret it (Dvila, 2001: 1). Another important finding was
MHs use of the affirmative action frame. According to the literature, the idea that
Hispanic women are a minority and underserved group that needs special attention is a
stereotypical frame used by the news media to portray Latinos (e.g. Subervi-Vlez, 2005).
The fact that the English-language newspaper portrays Latinas as a new and attractive
market niche as well as an underserved minority group shows that the MH treats them as
others or out-group members. However, it is important to note that, compared to the
Spanish-language publication, the MH did not strongly reproduce stereotypical frames
about Latinas. Although it subtly alluded to the sensuality of Latinas through the beautyproduct consumer subframe, it was not as prominent as in ENH. These findings come as
a surprise because the literature suggests that out-group members such the Englishlanguage media with respect to the Hispanic population are more likely to use stereotypes that are overly present. One possible explanation of this result is that journalists
who work in the MH may be more sensitive about directly reproducing these stereotypes
than other newspapers given that 43 percent of its readers are Latinos.

Femininity vs individualism
Going beyond the surface of the frames mentioned in the text, the results show that there
are two major principles (Reese, 2001) that organize the coverage of Hispanic women
in the Heralds. ENH used a master frame that can be labeled as femininity, while the
MH used a master frame that can be named as individualism.



The femininity master frame refers to the ideas of familialism and sensuality that the
Spanish-language paper used to structure the description of Latinas throughout the news.
In contrast to the MH, the success frame of ENH was linked to family sacrifices and
sensuality. Additionally, almost one-quarter of the stories used family devotion and sensuality as major frames. These characteristics can be labeled as feminine because the
ideas of care, compassion and motherliness are often associated with women, and the
idea of sensuality is essentially linked to Latinas (e.g. Rodrguez, 1997; Seidman
Mildburn et al., 2001; Tuchman, 1978). Hence, this femininity master frame would be
part of a larger societal ideology of Hispanics that shaped the content.
The individualism master frame alludes to the embedded US ideological tenets that
primarily organized the news stories of the MH about Latinas. Part of the American ethos
is the emphasis on democratic and capitalist principles that value free market, competition, individual achievement and freedom (McClosky and Zaller, 1986). The results
show that these embedded values were reflected in the frames success and attractive
consumer, which showed up in 61 percent of the stories used by the English-language
newspaper. In contrast to ENH, the success frame in the MH was linked to individual
achievement, capability to overcome obstacles, work hard and break gender and racial
barriers. In addition, the attractive consumer frame portrayed Latinas as consumers,
which is certainly entangled with capitalist tenets. In a similar fashion to ENH, the ideologies in which the English-language newspaper is immersed influenced their coverage
of Latinas.
Although this study only compared two newspapers, the findings shed light on a topic
that deserves more attention. The cultural identification between media and audience
may avoid obvious negative stereotypes such as framing Hispanics as criminals.
Nevertheless, it embraces pan-ethnic stereotypes that, eventually, may become harmful
because they homogenize and racialize a minority group. This finding is important for
news organizations that are striving to increase diversity of newsrooms and outlets
because it shows that the cultural identification of the ethnic media with the community
does not guarantee a stereotype-free coverage of the minority group.
The assumptions and possible explanations developed to enlighten the surprising
results of this study should be empirically tested by future investigations, ideally with
ethnographies. To further investigate whether the stronger media identification with the
audience affects the type of frames used to depict a minority group, future studies should
look for tighter comparisons between English- and Spanish-language news media, such
as comparing the framing of a minority group on the same topics or by section of the
The two media selected to study are published in a market close to Latin America and
in one of the most bilingual areas in the United States. This strong presence of Latinos in
Miami may affect the way the newspapers frame this minority group. In the case of the
Spanish-language newspaper, it may enhance the reproduction of pan-ethnic stereotypes.
As for the English-language publication, it may increase the journalists sensitivity
towards the reproduction of commonplaces. Therefore, these results may not be easily
generalizable to other regions. Future research should take into account this limitation
and carefully choose other case studies to analyze this phenomenon.


Journalism 11(4)

The author would like to thank Stephen Reese, Amrica Rodriguez, Sebastin Valenzuela and two
anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.




In this article, the terms Hispanic and Latino are used interchangeably. They refer to the
people that live in the USA and share an Ibero-Latin American heritage. The term Latina
refers to Hispanic woman.
The total readers of El Nuevo Herald number 450,000 and of the Miami Herald 1,250,000, of
which 43 percent (542,000) are Hispanic (Miami Herald Media Company, 2006).
The rocky relationship between the publications has continued after the transition from
Knight Ridder to McClatchy. For example, in September 2006 the then publisher of the MH,
Jess Daz Jr, fired three ENH journalists for conflict of interest they freelanced for two US
government programs that promote democracy in Cuba. Shortly after, McClatchy rehired the
journalists, arguing lack of clarity about the papers ethics policy (Olson, 2006). As a consequence, Daz resigned.
For the MH, the articles were selected using the terms Hispanic AND woman, Hispanic AND
women, Latina, Latin AND woman, Latin AND women, Latino AND woman, and
Latino AND women. For ENH, the search categories were: Hispana AND mujer, Hispanas
AND mujeres, Latina AND mujer, Latinas AND mujeres, Latinas, and Latina.
Holstis coefficient of reliability = (2M)/(N1 + N2), where M is the total number of coder
agreements and N1 and N2 are the number of coding decisions made by each coder.
The articles of El Nuevo Herald were translated by the author.
Italics were added by the author for emphasis.
In 176 stories out of 188 it was possible to define the sex of the journalist. To control whether
the sex of the journalists affected the frames selected, the differences found in the frames used
by the MH and ENH were compared separately by reporters gender. None of the comparisons found systematic differences in the newspapers between male and females.
The interviewees asked not to be individually identified.

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Biographical notes
Teresa Correa is a doctoral student of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at
Austin. She holds an MA degree in Latin American Studies at UT-Austin, and worked as a news
reporter for Chiles daily El Mercurio. Her research interests include the social and psychological
factors that affect the news media coverage of poverty, women and racial minorities and the social
gaps in the uses of new media.
Address: 1 University Station A1000, Austin, TX 78712, USA. [email:]