When companies or politicians seek to speak to Latino audiences, they head to Spanish-language television networks, Spanish-language radio or Spanish-language newspapers.
The theory has always been that the best way to tap into the fast-growing segment of the population, with its $1.3 trillion spending power and increasing political influence, was to do so in its native language.
But a new poll by Fox News Latino turns that theory on its head.
When asked in what language they prefer to get their news, 79 percent of registered Latino voters said they preferred their news in English.
“I’m not incredibly surprised. It reflects a demographic shift as second-, third- and even fourth-generation Latinos, who identify with their culture, but English is their dominant language,” Jessica J. Gonzalez, executive vice president and general counsel of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, told Fox News Latino.
The poll surveyed 803 registered Latino voters nationwide between Aug. 7 and 10. The poll, which has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, was conducted under the direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R).
“This is why our agency has been focused on infusing more people of color into Latino media for years. For a long time, there’s been an assumption that all Latinos have been watching news in Spanish,” Gonzalez added.
Following the trend, Univision, which began in 1962 as a Spanish-language news channel, launched Univision News this year with news targeting “English-dominant” Latinos.
In 2010, Fox News Latino launched a ground-breaking website appealing to second- and third-generation Hispanics with national news in English. Fox News Latino launched to fill a gap in the media for Latinos looking for news about their community in English.
According to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Hispanics speak primarily English or are bilingual.
"When I was growing up, speaking Spanish was something that people didn't do,” Mark Hugo Lopez at the Pew Research Center told Univision. “People were trying to run away from all those things that were Mexican.”
Aly Colόn, John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Media Ethics at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, said that when you compare Univision with its main Spanish-language rival, Telemundo, you see that Univision is looking more toward an English-oriented audience, which means a younger and more affluent group. In comparison, he said, Spanish-language network Telemundo is looking to reach more recent immigrants from Latin America.
“The news media looks at [their audiences] as one thing, but really it’s multiple things. But depending on how they view their audience will determine whether it’s in English or Spanish,” Colόn told Fox News Latino.
Gonzalez said she believes the lack of newsroom diversity is the true missed opportunity.
“If you’re not serving your audience, they’re not going to watch,” Gonzalez said. “At a conference of ours recently, [ABC News correspondent] John Quiñones talked about how he was able to gather news as a Latino that his non-Latino peers could not – because the community was comfortable with him and he was comfortable in the community.”