Latinos are barely part of the conversation in newspapers and online media that cover the issue of racial equity and racism, a new study has found.
Only about 6 percent of that news related to Latinos, who make up nearly 20 percent of the American population and more than 40 percent of all people of color, according to a report released Wednesday by the Berkeley Media Studies Group and UnidosUS.
The study analyzed peak news cycles related to racism and racial equity issues, including wealth, housing and health in the United States, following the start of the protests and protest anniversaries between May 1 and May September 30 in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
During that period, the authors reviewed 195,536 articles dealing with the topic of race. Only 10,963 articles, or 5.6%, referred to Latinos, with coverage falling dramatically in 2021 and 2022, the report noted.
“When the experiences, contributions and concerns of Latinas are excluded from news coverage, policy makers and the public lack the facts needed to create effective and inclusive solutions,” said Viviana Lopez Green, senior director of the Racial Equity Initiative by UnidosUS. “Too often, our community is ‘out of sight, out of mind.'”
The Berkeley Media Studies Group, or BMSG, a program of the Public Health Institute, focuses on racial and health equity. UnidosUS is a Latin national civil rights and advocacy organization.
The study found coverage gaps in states with large Hispanic populations, such as California, which is home to nearly a quarter of all Latinos in the nation, according to the 2019 American Community Survey Data.
Although approximately 40% of Californians are Hispanic or Latino, according to census data, 15.5% of articles from California on racial equity and racism referred to Latinos. In Texas the number was 4.7%, even though they also make up about 40% of the state’s population.
About 40 percent of the articles mentioned solutions to issues of racial disparity and equity, such as ways to improve housing and home ownership, education attainment, and close the wealth gap.
“When news only focuses on problems without also exploring solutions, people, including policy makers, have a harder time imagining next steps,” said Pamela Mejia, head of research at BMSG. “Readers need to see the work organizers and supporters are doing to improve their communities. These are the kinds of stories that encourage action and instill hope.
The groups said they conducted the study to help improve coverage and representation, as Latino voices and perspectives help influence which topics become part of the public discussion or remain hidden from view.
The report recommended that reporters broaden sources that come from diverse backgrounds and ask more nuanced questions, and recommended greater diversity in newsroom leadership and workspaces.
The report also found that only 15% of the authors could be identified as Latino, yet they acknowledged that they were using contextual clues such as names.
A 2021 report from the U.S. Office of Government Accountability found that Latinos accounted for 8 percent of publishers of newspapers, periodicals, books, and directories; meanwhile, 11% of analysts, reporters, and reporters were Latino.
“These results are disappointing but not surprising,” Mejia said. “When newsrooms don’t reflect the communities they represent, we expect coverage to be incomplete, too.”
The groups have also recommended that philanthropists invest in media strategies for Latinos and recommended advocates train Latino spokespeople and build relationships with members of the media.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com