Center for American Progress

New Poll Spotlights Ethnic Media as the Giant Hidden in Plain Sight

New Poll Spotlights Ethnic Media as the Giant Hidden in Plain Sight

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Amidst sweeping changes in America's media landscape, ethnic media are emerging as the giant hidden in plain sight.

The first-ever comprehensive surveyof ethnic American adults on their media usage reveals that ethnic media reach 51 million ethnic Americans – almost a quarter of all (or one in four) American adults. Of these media consumers, 29 million ethnic American adults, or 13 percent of all adult Americans, not only use ethnic media regularly but prefer ethnic media to its mainstream media counterparts.

The study was commissioned by NCM (New California Media) in partnership with the Center for American Progress and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF). The poll surveyed 1850 Hispanic, African American, Asian American, Arab American and Native American adults, representing 64 million ethnic and racial minorities overall. The interviews were conducted in 10 languages.

"This poll is the first step in mapping a vast media landscape that's been largely invisible because it's not in English or references different cultures," said Sandy Close, Executive Director of NCM. “The poll is a call to action to all of us in communications to leverage ethnic media more effectively — whether we're advertisers who target a fraction of the $145 billion spent annually on advertising and marketing on ethnic media, or government and social marketing agencies who haven't even included ethnic media in our press rooms or communiqués.”

While the anecdotal evidence of the booming ethnic media is evident in many cities like Los Angeles and New York, this is the first survey that maps the rise of this media nationwide, both in its reach and as a trusted intermediary. Pollster Sergio Bendixen, whose firm conducted the survey, says it confirms “the striking impact ethnic media are making in the United States. Spanish language and Arab language television, African American radio, Asian American and Native American newspapers clearly reach a substantial majority of their markets.”

Already one in four Californians are foreign born, and Census figures show that in the last decade states like Nevada and Georgia had their foreign born populations grow by over 100 percent. This tremendous demographic spread poses new challenges to those trying to bring voices from this new America to the public discourse.

“The Center for American Progress sees this historic study as a vital step towards building more inclusive communications in our increasingly fragmented society,” said John D. Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a cosponsor of the poll. “These findings will change the way we’ve come to think about the influence ethnic media have on their audiences.”

Just as African American media was instrumental in the push for civil rights, this poll shows ethnic media is taking on the role of becoming trusted voices for communities often voiceless in the public forum. Wade Henderson, counselor to LCCREF and executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said, "The findings of this groundbreaking report are of enormous significance to the civil rights coalition. At a time when our survival and success depend more than ever upon an informed public, this report will help us better target our outreach to the constituencies most affected by the upcoming reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, efforts to adopt harsh and restrictive immigration policies, and the confirmation of right wing judges who would roll back civil rights, among other critical issues."

About the Poll Sponsors

NCM, founded in 1996 by the nonprofit Pacific News Service to promote ethnic media, has been a pioneer of multilingual polling since 2002, with support from a broad range of foundations and organizations, including The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, The Community Technology Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Overbrook Foundation, The Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, Open Society Institute. NCM partners in our polling project include The Chinese American Voter Education Committee and the Institute for Justice & Journalism at USC Annenberg’s School for Communications.

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. CAP believes that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and they aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund is the research, education, and communications arm of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition.

Bendixen & Associates is a public opinion research, management, and communications consulting firm based in Miami, Florida. Founded in 1984, the firm has grown from a company with roots in political campaigns and polling into an international consulting company that incorporates many disciplines and sectors. The firm has managed projects throughout the U.S., as well as in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Read the Poll Findings (PDF)
View Presentation Slides (SWF)

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