Monday, June 30, 2014

News Preference of U.S. Latinos

I'm crunching data for a new paper that focuses on the news preferences of U.S. Latinos, in particular whether such news is presented in English versus Spanish, as well as the consequences of those preferences. Of the latter I'll write about another day. This is just a first blush of some results I'm seeing, based on analysis of a national survey of 1,005 U.S. Latinos.

So I've built a rather complicated multivariate model to predict language preference. That's a fancy way of saying a bunch of stuff (age, education, political interest, born in U.S., etc.) all statistically control for one another to see what factors stand out.

  • Prefer Spanish to English: The single biggest factor will surprise no one. It's the use of Spanish in everyday life, which has a huge effect in the language one prefers to get the news. Indeed, the more you use Spanish in everyday life, you're 6 and a half times more likely to prefer Spanish to English in your news. What else? Females are almost twice as likely to prefer their news in Spanish, and the more connected you feel to your ancestral country, the more you prefer the news in Spanish. Here's an interesting non-effect -- attention to politics in one's ancestral country does not predict a preference for news in Spanish versus English. 
  • Prefer Spanish to a mix of both Languages: Again, comfort with everyday use of Spanish is the big boy in the model. Oddly, the only other factor here is political efficacy. Simply put, controlling for a ton of other stuff, the more you feel you understand politics, the more you prefer your news in Spanish versus a mix of the two languages. I have no real explanation for this.
  • Prefer Both to English: That leaves this comparison, and again everyday use of Spanish dominates. The older you are, the more you prefer English. Also, owning a home means more preference for English (as opposed to a mix of the two). In other words, the longer you've been around and are connected via age and home ownership, the more you consume your news in English versus a mix.
I've also constructed a variable of eight Spanish-language sources of news (Noticiero Telemundo, CNN en Espanol, etc.) to see how it differs from the results above. Watching such programs is, again, largely a function of use of Spanish in everyday life. The more educated or higher your income, the less you watch such programs. But the more connected you are to your ancestral country, the more you do watch them. Some other factors also emerge as statistically significant, but they're kinda obvious, like political interest.

Okay, so what? Step 2 is to examine whether or not a preference for news in Spanish versus English, or Spanish-language news from the programs and networks mentioned above, affects people's likelihood to register and to vote in U.S. elections. Theory, and previous research, suggests it should.

Stay tuned.

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