UNT Research, Volume 17, 2008 Page: 39
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W W W . unt e d u u n t resear ch
Abraham Benavides examined the federal government's
policies on non-English language emergency warnings with a
grant from the Center for Spanish Language Media.
"Unquestionably, the focus of our program is on Spanish
language media in the United States. That's our base, our core,"
says Albarran, adding that if undocumented residents were figured
in, the United States would likely have the second-largest Spanish-
speaking populace behind Mexico.
Albarran and his staff are conducting studies about the impact
of Hispanic voters on the 2008 presidential election and also arc
examining media coverage about immigration. In addition, in January
the center released an online study (www.spanishmedia.unt.edu) that
details the state of Spanish language media in the United States
and highlights the rapid proliferation of electronic and print
According to the study, Univision, the top-rated Spanish
language television network, has become the fifth most watched
network. just bchind Fox and ahead of the CV. in key demo-
And the combincJ circulation of Spanish language daily
newspapers has grown in recent years to nearly 2 million. This is
compared to 140,000 in total circulation just 30 years ago.
Albarran says the growth in Spanish language media isn't hard
to explain. With the growth of consumers has come a growth in
advertising. And advertising, in turn, drives media revenue.
"This segment of the population is too big and is growing
too fast for you to ignore if you're marketing goods or services,"
Albarran says. "They're consumers and they're active consumers."
The young industry is still undergoing some growing pains,
though. And the research sparked by the lightning strike that scared
Benavides' children explored one such issue facing the Spanish
language media in America.
Benavides examined the federal government's policies on
non-English language emergency warnings. His content analysis of
Federal Communications Commission documents revealed that
weather warnings and other alerts are made available in Spanish, but
it is up to the operators of the radio and television stations to
determine whether to air the alerts.
And that doesn't always happen. During several recent natural
disasters, including the San Diego County wildfires in 2003 and
Hurricane Katrina in 2005, some non-English language broadcasters
provided minimal news coverage of the disasters and failed to air
evacuation notices and other warnings, Benavides says.
"There is a lack of tradition among the Spanish language media
of providing public service announcements that are critical to the
safety and well-being of the people they serve," Benavides says. "As
the industry matures, this practice should become more widespread."
Rafael Olmeda, president of the National Association of
Hispanic Journalists, says he's not certain whether not airing emer-
gency warnings is a widespread issue among Spanish language
media. But, he says, it is the responsibility of the media, no matter
what language they broadcast in, to adequately perform a public
service role in the communities they serve.
"The need to relay information to all communities regardless
of what language they're speaking is imperative," says Olmeda,
the assistant city editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "As media,
we pride ourselves on being a public service and providing the
public with information they need."
Growing pains and all, Spanish language media are coming
into their own in the United States and a large swath of the western
hemisphere. For UNT to be at the forefront of studying this
social-landscape-altering phenomenon is "super cool," says Guzman.
"Media are such a powerful conduit to acculturation and
communication. Just imagine all the people in the United States
who don't speak any English" he says.
"Given this trend, the Center for Spanish Language Media has
huge implications. It's providing a lot of interesting data for a lot
of different disciplines." U
UNT RESEARCH 200oo8 39
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 17, 2008, periodical, 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc115031/m1/39/: accessed February 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.