National Dialogues on Immigration

Just 59 More Minutes

March 14, 2014  |  Featured News,News

By Sarah Pharaon and Jennifer Scott

In September of 2012, the National Hispanic Media Coalition released the results of an online media bias experiment administered by the polling firm Latino Decisions with funding from the the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.    In the experiment, non-Latino respondents were exposed to audio clips, video clips and print articles which expressed positive and negative views on both Latinos and immigrants. Directly after viewing this media, respondents were asked their opinions about Latinos as well as immigrants.

Among the findings:

  • There is a common misperception that Latinos and undocumented immigrants are one in the same, with 17% of survey respondents believing that the majority of U.S. Latinos are undocumented.
  • People exposed to negative entertainment or news narratives about Latinos and/or immigrants hold the most unfavorable and hostile views about both groups.
  • Negative portrayals of Latinos and immigrants are pervasive in news and entertainment media. Consequently, non-Latinos commonly believe that many media-promoted negative stereotypes about these groups are true.
  • Conservative talk radio and Fox News audiences are less likely to be personally familiar with Latinos and more likely to hold anti-immigrant and anti-Latino views. Media takes on a larger role in shaping the opinions and attitudes of communities that have little direct interaction with Latinos.

Most disturbingly, the study found that only one minute of media exposure could change the way respondents viewed Latinos.  “When asked if Latinos were intelligent, those who consumed [one-minute] negative news and entertainment pieces were much more likely to rate Latinos as unintelligent, while those who consumed [one-minute] positive pieces were much more likely to rate Latinos as intelligent.”  One minute.  One minute by which to come to an opinion on the intellectual worth of over 17 million Americans.

What would happen if each of us dedicated 59 additional minutes to exploring if the media’s narrative is reflective of our personal experiences? What if we spent those 59 minutes examining where each of us first learned about immigration?  What if we took that time to talk with our families and our friends about why we feel the way we do about immigration reform?  And most importantly, what other experiences or credible information might alter our views, hopes and concerns about immigration?

And if you have 90 minutes?   Consider watching any of the following documentaries. Better yet, take 120.   Watch them with others.  Ask questions.  Listen.

The Undocumented (May 2013) recounts one man’s immigrant story, Marcos Hernandez, as he searches for his father, an undocumented border crosser.

The State of Arizona (January 2014) documents the impact of the passing of the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” also known as “SB 1070.”

Deported (2013) follows the lives of American and Canadian deportees now living in Haiti.

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