Spanish-language Media Help Shape Public Policy

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Spanish-language media in the United States play a critical role in shaping perceptions of public opinion among Latino voters and public officials of every ethnicity across the country. They also play a far greater advocacy role for the communities they serve than do their English-language counterparts, according to a University of California, Riverside researcher.

Spanish-language media gather news, do investigative reporting and report on news from state capitals, just as mainstream media do,” said D. Xavier Medina Vidal, a Ph.D. candidate in political science who will graduate from UCR in June. “They also keep their readers informed about how the political system works and cover issues that are important to their readers that English-language media are not covering. They also have a better sense of Latino public opinion and help shape public policy on issues that are important to Latinos.”

His dissertation, “Voces del Capitolio: Spanish-Language Media in the Statehouse,” examines the influence of Spanish-language media on the development of Latino policy agendas at the state level. His research was funded by UC MEXUS (University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States) and involved spatial analysis (GIS), in-depth interviews with Latino and non-Latino state legislators, and data from an original national survey of state legislators.

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