Skip to Content View Previous Reports



By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

The Spreading Population

American immigration, as noted in this report a year ago, increasingly is spreading out across the country into new territory.

Nearly every state had some increase in its population that relies on a language other than English, according to the 2006 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. And while states with historically large immigrant contingents continue to experience growth, some of the more notable jumps in recent years have occurred in places like Maryland, Colorado, Utah and Nebraska – not the traditional destinations for high concentration of immigration. Those four states have seen more than a 1% increase in these populations since 2002.

What is driving the growth? In part, economics. Growth in these states leads to jobs that Spanish-speakers tend to fill – positions such as construction laborer that do not have education or language requirements. (In all of the states new immigrants are calling home, the top 10 percentage of gross domestic product goes to construction.1

Percent of People Aged Five and Over Who Speak
a Language Other Than English at Home
2002, 2004, 2006

2002 2004 2006
United States 18.3 18.7 19.7
Alabama 3.7 3.4 4.2
Alaska 12.7 12.7 15.4
Arizona 25.8 25.4 28
Arkansas 4.2 5.6 6.1
California 40.6 41.3 42.5
Colorado 15.6 16.1 17.2
Connecticut 18 18.9 20.1
Delaware 9.7 11.1 12.1
District of Columbia 16.7 16.2 15.3
Florida 24.1 24.3 25.7
Georgia 9.9 11 11.9
Hawaii 26.3 24.4 23.5
Idaho 9.6 10.6 10.1
Illinois 19.9 20.4 21.8
Indiana 8.4 8.9 7.6
Iowa 5.8 5.4 6.4
Kansas 7.6 8 10.3
Kentucky 3.8 4.2 4.1
Louisiana 7.6 7.7 8.4
Maine 7.2 7.4 7.7
Maryland 13.2 13.8 14.9
Massachusetts 18.7 19.5 20.2
Michigan 8.2 8.9 9
Minnesota 10 10.2 9.6
Mississippi 2.9 2.5 3.1
Missouri 5.6 5.2 5.6
Montana 4.1 3.6 4.7
Nebraska 7.7 8.2 9.1
Nevada 23.5 25.5 26.9
New Hampshire 7.4 7.7 8.2
New Jersey 26.4 26.6 27.6
New Mexico 34.4 36.4 36.5
New York 27.4 27.3 28.8
North Carolina 8.2 8.7 9.6
North Dakota 5.6 5.5 5.2
Ohio 6 5.9 6.2
Oklahoma 7.4 7.5 8.3
Oregon 12 12.9 14.2
Pennsylvania 8.2 8.5 9.2
Rhode Island 19 19.8 20.4
South Carolina 5.4 5.3 6
South Dakota 5.6 4.2 6.5
Tennessee 4.7 5.5 5.5
Texas 31.5 32 33.8
Utah 12.3 12.1 14.3
Vermont 4.9 5.2 5.3
Virginia 11.5 12.8 13.1
Washington 14.3 15.2 16.6
West Virginia 2.3 2.1 2.3
Wisconsin 7.7 7.5 8.1
Wyoming 5.9 5.9 6.6

Source: Pew Hispanic Center: Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 2006

An Expanding Media Landscape

In the coming years, the real growth for ethnic media may not be in the large big-city daily newspapers, many of which serve both the slowing first-generation immigrants and the growing second or third generations of English-speaking U.S. citizens.

Instead, the targets for growth may be the smaller communities where the immigrant population is just getting started. The long-established areas of settlement — California, New York, Florida and Texas — still account for at least half of the population growth of foreign-born residents. But, to a growing degree, immigrants are settling in new areas where there will be a demand for native-language media.2

According to Edward Schumacher Matos, founder and former CEO of Rumbo, the Spanish-language newspaper chain in Texas, “Spanish-language print is aimed mostly at that first generation, the immigrant generation, that continues to grow in buying power, and in number. Readership is going to grow [because] they are going to read Spanish-language newspapers until the day they die.”3 In the big cities, those publications already exist. But in the newer destinations for immigrants, there is an opportunity for establishing new Hispanic print products.

The latest circulation and revenue figures suggest that, among Hispanic publications, print weeklies, often serving smaller pockets of population, showed the biggest growth. ( See Circulation and Audience Numbers, below.) Typically, these are publications with lean staffs and leaner advertising revenues.

Ethnic media usually develop from the ground up: A small weekly paper starts up to serve a growing ethnic community. If it is successful, it graduates to a daily, then is purchased and expanded by a larger company.

These emerging immigrant communities also have represented an opportunity for broadcast outlets, which are not as dependent on geographic concentration as print to succeed. And as these new ethnic, primarily Hispanic, regions grow, they may become home to a second wave of Spanish-language dailies.

In recent years this report has found the circulation of some of the best-known Spanish-language dailies — in Los Angeles, New York and Miami — is flat or declining, and this year is no exception. (Dailes Ciruclation Chart below). As discussed above, many factors influence these declines.

Asian-American Media – A Growing Market

While Spanish-language media dominate the ethnic media scene, there are emerging and well-established pockets of Asian-American print and broadcast outlets, spurred by that population’s steady growth.

A 2004 Pew Hispanic Center survey put the number of Asian-Americans living in the U.S. at 13.5 million.4 They represent 4% of the U.S. population, and that number is expected to increase to 9% by 2050, according to a 2008 report from the Pew Research Center.5

The fresh influx of Asians into the U.S. began with the loosening of restrictions made possible by the Immigration Act of 1965. By 1971, roughly 7.3 million of the 18 million or so immigrants entering the country from around the world were born in Asia, the majority coming from the Philippines, China (including Taiwan from 1971 to 1990), Vietnam and India .6 As a result, vibrant Asian enclaves have sprung up in several major metropolitan areas.

There is a dearth of overall data on the number of Asian-language media in the U.S. to meet their needs. The IW Group, a leading Asian-American marketing and advertising firm, tracks the growing numbers. According to the IW chairman and CEO, Bill Imada, there was a 300 percent surge in the number of Asian-American media outlets from 1990 to 2007. IW reports a total of 600, and that number does not include new media.

There is also unmistakable anecdotal evidence of growth when looking at specific news outlets. This is especially true in California, where Asian-Americans make up 12% of the population, the highest in the country.

The Chinese Daily News in Monterey Park, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, is the nation’s largest Chinese-language newspaper, with an unaudited circulation of 100,000. Orange County, south of Los Angeles, is home to The Nguoi Viet Daily News, the country’s largest Vietnamese daily newspaper, which was started in 1978 as a four-page weekly produced out of the garage of its founder Yen Ngoc Do, who died in 2006. Although its 2007 self-reported circulation, at 18,000, is small, its readers are intensely interested in the issues it covers.

The San Francisco-based AsianWeek is the oldest and largest English-language weekly newspaper for Asian-Americans with an audited 2007 circulation of more than 58,000. It is using new-media tactics to target younger readers. Its sophisticated Web site features feedback posts and voting guides, and an article in January 2008 asked “Why is Obama Snubbing Asian Americans?”

Despite the growth, Asian publications, as with many ethnic media, generally “come and go, especially the new ones,” said Anthony Advincula, former coordinator with the Independent Press Association- New York. “Some of them started as weeklies, but now they are monthlies because of advertising and readership issues.” Advincula also said tighter immigration laws and the blogs and videos of new media cut into readership.

AsianWeek’s editor at large is Ted Fang, whose family bought the San Francisco Examiner from Hearst in 2000. He and his colleagues formed the National Asian Media Association, which held its first meeting in February 2008, to bring media and advertisers together . “Advertisers are either not knowledgeable or confused about the Asian-American market,” said Fang, who sees the new group tapping into that potential buying power, estimated at $427 billion in 2006 and projected to be $622 billion in 2011 .7

On the broadcasting side, development is occurring at several different levels, mostly geared toward first-generation listeners and viewers.

In New York, the nonprofit New Tang Dynasty Television was started in 2001 with the goal of becoming “the Chinese CNN.” It has grown into a satellite network that broadcasts Western-style news and entertainment 24 hours a day in Mandarin and Cantonese to Chinese communities in the United States, Western Europe, Australia and parts of Asia.8 Other cable and satellite networks in the United States are the Vietnamese-language SBTN, the Chinese-language TVB and the Korean-language tvK24.

There has also been success at the more local, public-access level. KSCI-TV, Channel 18, in Los Angeles is a multi-Asian television station, featuring programs in Vietnamese, Asian Indian, Filipino, Chinese and Korean.

On the other hand, English-language programming designed to reach second- and third-generation Asian-Americans often comes up against the distinctive nature of individual Asian cultures. A case in point is the announcement by Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, in January 2008 that it would close the three-year-old AZN Television, a Pan-Asian channel initially heralded by the company as a “network for Asian America.”9

Radio offers another avenue for reaching first-generation immigrants; it is particularly strong in the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities, with large networks like Little Saigon Radio Broadcasting in Orange County, Calif., Radio Korea International in Los Angeles and Sino Radio Broadcasting’s station WZRC, heard in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Unlike television, most of these stations air local programming.

Where the biggest potential may lie for Asian media is on the Web. According to several studies, Asian-Americans make up the largest online audience of any ethnic group in the country. A 2001 Pew Internet & American Life Project study, the latest for reliable data, reported that they were the heaviest and most experienced users, with 75% having gone online at one time or another, mostly for news, entertainment and services. Marketing researcher eMarketer puts the number of Asians online at 11 million in 2007, and projects that will grow to 14 million in four years.10

Given the ability of the Web to aggregate information internationally, and the typical focus in ethnic media on home-country concerns, the potential for Asian media online seems even richer.

Naturalization and Mainstreaming

Nearly counterbalancing the trend of new and expanding immigrant communities are two hefty pieces of data: Naturalization is on the rise and mainstream outlets are lining up ethnic groups – particularly Hispanics – in their marketing and coverage sights.

The number of legal foreign-born residents seeking to become U.S. citizens has been climbing for more than 10 years, according to data from the Pew Hispanic Center. In 1995, only 39% of all legal immigrants living in the United States were American citizens. That number reached 52% in 2005 – the highest since the 1970s.

Naturalization of Legal Permanent Residents
Design Your Own Chart
Source: Pew Hispanic Center, “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization,” March 28, 2007

There is real significance to those numbers for the ethnic media. Naturalized immigrants (and those on the path to naturalization) have made a decision to become a part of the U.S. and are more likely to speak English. To become naturalized, immigrants must demonstrate the ability to read and write English, meaning they are more likely to watch, read and listen to mainstream English-language outlets.

While the rate of naturalized Hispanic immigrants is on the rise, however, so is the population of illegal immigrants. Naturalized legal immigrants represented 35% of all foreign-born residents in 2005, up from 30% in the previous decade.11 But the growth of illegal immigrants was steeper. In 2005, illegal immigrants made up 31% of the total United States immigrant population, up from 20% in 1995. The impact for news media seems to be continued demand for Spanish-language content.

There was a long period during which immigrants turned away from the naturalization option – the number of naturalized immigrants was at 64% in 1970 before trending steadily downward for 25 years.

Figures show those years were important in terms of the development of the Spanish-language media. In 1970 there were eight Hispanic daily newspapers in the United States with a combined circulation of about 135,000, according to data from the Latino Print Network. By 2000 there were 34 dailies with a circulation of more than 1.4 million.

The growth of circulation in Hispanic print outlets (the ethnic group for which there is the best data) has slowed since 2000. While total Hispanic newspaper circulation grew by more than 10 million in the 1990s, it had grown by less than 3 million through 2005.12

There could be political and social reasons for that slowdown, from tighter immigration laws to demographic changes. As we noted in last year’s report, 2006 was the first year in decades that growth in the Latino population occurred more from birth than immigration. And Latinos born in the U.S. tend to be more likely to speak English and rely on mainstream outlets. Still, the naturalization changes are worth noting.

The ethnic media, particularly Hispanic outlets, also face a challenge from mainstream outlets and their efforts to reach Hispanic viewers and readers.

In his 2005 book, “The New Mainstream,” former Time writer Guy Garcia argued that the impact of the surge in Latino immigration and their increased purchasing power would be in ethnic products marketed far beyond ethnic community niches and toward the larger mass marketplace.

That New Mainstream is already on display on popular television and in print.

On cable television, for instance, the Food Network airs “Simply Delicioso,” hosted by Colombian-born Ingrid Hoffmann. Hoffmann made her name on the Spanish-language television show “Delicioso” on Univision, which she still hosts. It could be that in time that this model is replicated on other English-language stations as they look for bilingual personalities to become crossover stars.

In its early 2008 election coverage, CNN welcomed reporters and anchors from Univision on air to talk about Hispanic issues and join in a candidate debate.

Even the upscale food magazine Gourmet went all out on Latino cuisine in September 2006, looking at street foods, taco trucks and roadside restaurants. “Given the demographics of the United States, one would be crazy to think that Latin cuisine isn’t going to be dominant in our culture,” Gourmet’s editor, Ruth Reichel, told Adweek magazine.

A significant sign of Hispanic mainstreaming came in August, when Nielsen decided to drop its 15-year-old Hispanic rating system and count Hispanic homes as part of its general sample. The move, the company said, was designed to “allow the television industry to evaluate both English- and Spanish-language television audiences side by side.” (See Broadcast Section)

The message from these new strategies is simple: Mainstream media outlets see the future and understand that they need to reach into ethnic areas they once ignored.

Circulation and Audience Numbers

Even with those counter-trends, however, it appears that migrating populations are continuing to support smaller U.S. weeklies, at least judging by the numbers for Hispanic papers.

According to figures from the Latino Print Network, a research firm based in Carlsbad, Calif., Spanish-language newspapers saw a slight bump in overall circulation in 2006, the latest year for which data is available, up to 17.8 million from 17.6 million in 2005.13

Much of that growth was due to circulation increases at weekly papers, which climbed to 11.4 million from 11.1 million in 2005. That was enough to more than offset the losses among the other circulation categories. The number of audited weeklies also grew, to 112 in 2006 from 104 in 2005, according to the network.

As noted earlier, these weekly publications are often the first type of newspaper to develop in an emerging community, as publishers test the waters to determine the market for Latino readers. Cutting back to weekly also can be a fallback position for dailies that don’t make it. Two of those new eight weeklies were actually former dailies that scaled back.

The story for daily Spanish-language newspapers is not so simple. After reporting massive growth in circulation for a decade, the Latino Print Network’s data showed a slight drop in Hispanic daily newspaper circulation for 2006 – to 1.606 million from 1.614 million in 2005, a dip of about 8,000.

Hispanic U.S. Daily Newspaper Circulation Over Time

Design Your Own Chart
Source: Kirk Whisler & Latino Print Network, Carlsbad, CA

The 2006 data continue the slight circulation-bobbing for Hispanic dailies since their numbers peaked in 2003 at about 1.8 million. It should be noted, however, that the current decrease is relatively small considering the number of Hispanic dailies dropped by four last year – to 38 in 2006 from 42 in 2005. Along with the two dailies that became weeklies, two others folded. Taking those changes together, the average circulation of Hispanics dailies actually climbed in 2006 to 42,276 from 38,438.

Again, many of those figures come from unaudited circulation numbers, but not as many as before. The Latino Print Network added another Hispanic daily to its audit in 2006 and that increase, plus the disappearance of four dailies, meant that for the first time, more than half of the dailies measured by the Latino Print Network now audit their circulations – 22 out of 38 daily papers total. That is a sign of the maturation of the market. Major advertisers often demand audited circulation data, and more of the Spanish-language print industry has developed to the point where it can provide it.

Less-than-weekly Hispanic papers still remain largely un-audited. Of 346 papers in the Latino Print Network sample, only 13 were audited, down from 17 in 2005. Circulation over all fell, to 4.8 million in 2006, a drop of about 40,000 from 2005.

Audited Dailies

Many of the audited Hispanic dailies are based in large cities with more established communities, not the growing pockets seeing an infusion of new immigrants. Among three of the biggest, we found for the most part another relatively flat year for circulation. Each saw a small downturn through early 2007, and only one came back strong by the end of the year.

Audited Circulation of Three Major Spanish-Language Dailies
2001-2007, September to September
Design Your Own Chart
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulation, annual audit reports and publisher’s statements

La Opinión, based in Los Angeles and the long-time national leader, was the fastest-growing U.S. daily newspaper over all in net-paid daily circulation growth for the six-month period ending September 2007. It grew at 3.6 percent, the largest increase of any newspaper in the country with circulation over 50,000.

In weekday circulation, the paper saw a bump up to 124,784 in September 2007, from 120,485 during the same period in 2006, a growth of 3.4%. The daily’s numbers, however, have been trending down for the past few years from a high of about 128,000 in 2002.

Weekday circulation for El Diario-La Prensa in New York was largely flat at 51,620 in September 2007 from 51,251 in September 2006. That increase of only 0.7% by itself is not significant, but it is a small change in direction. Circulation had steadily declined since 2001, from 55,397, dropping 9.6% by 2006.

The bleak picture continues at El Nuevo Herald in Miami, where circulation fell to 77,566 in September 2007, from 82,923 for the same period in 2006. That 5,000-plus drop only emphasizes that these three papers, all in cities with entrenched Hispanic populations, may be facing a stagnant future.

Broadcast Media

The year 2007 was historic for Spanish-language television.

In August, Nielsen changed its 15-year-old system for monitoring Hispanic television audiences. Instead of isolating Hispanic homes with a separate measurement, it began counting them as part of its general television sample. According to analysts, Latinos are now so important to the overall television ratings picture that it would be misleading to continue to count them as a unique audience.

The move was welcomed by media companies and advertisers eager to reach Latino consumers in the U.S.: that audience’s collective buying power was estimated at more than $850 billion in 2007.14 And advertisers have barely tapped that market. In 2006, total ad spending on Spanish-language television – including not only Spanish-language broadcasters (such as Univision and Aztec America), but also NBC (through Telemundo) — topped $3 billion, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

During August 27 to September 2, the first week in which Spanish-language broadcasting was measured as part of all programming, Univision beat every broadcast network among viewers aged 18 to 34, a desirable demographic.15 But when Nielsen looked at the entire month of August, Univision dropped behind CBS, NBC and ABC in the ratings. By December, Univision was still solidly behind the three U.S. networks in ratings among 18- to 34-year-olds.

The year brought another milestone – the first presidential debate ever broadcast in Spanish, aired by Univision. Univision’s intention was to broadcast the Democratic debate on September 9, followed by the Republicans on September 16. The Democratic forum went off as scheduled, with seven of the eight early candidates (all but Sen. Joseph Biden) participating. On the Republican side, Sen. John McCain was the only candidate who initially agreed to appear, which caused a delay. Eventually, the other GOP candidates signed on and the debate was aired December 9.

Even though Republican candidates were slower to engage, in the end they drew a larger audience. According to the Nielsen Hispanic Station Index, 235,000 Hispanic viewers (18 and over) tuned into the Republican candidate debate on December 9, compared with 214,000 Hispanics for the Democrats on September 9.16

In the media, both debates were deemed qualified successes because of what the Miami Herald called “spotty” translation. Questions were asked and answered through translators, with closed captioning for English-language viewers.17

In early 2008, Univision teamed up with CNN to host a debate between the two Democratic candidates, which saw 7.6 million viewers tune in – one of the biggest audiences for a primary debate on any cable network.18

In November 2007, Univision marked another first when Nielsen numbers showed its local station, KDTV, scored the San Francisco Bay Area’s highest ratings among all viewers aged 25 to 54 for a 6 p.m. local news broadcast. This was the first time a Spanish-language news program in the area bested its English-language counterparts.



2. “A Statistical Portrait of the Foreign-Born Population at Mid-Decade,” Pew Hispanic Center, Table 11: /reports/foreignborn/.

3. Mark Fitzgerald, “Reflections on ‘Rumbo’,” Marketing y Medios, February 5, 2007: http://www.marketin

4. “The American Community – Asians: 2004.” American Community Survey Reports, Pew Hispanic Center, February 2007:

5. “ U.S. Population Projections: 2007-2050.” Pew Charitable Trusts, Feb. 11, 2008:

6. Le, C.N. “The 1965 Immigration Act.” Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America: mmigration-act.shtml.

7. “The Multicultural Economy, 2006.” The Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

8. Szabolcs Toth, “Chinese news network in US finds perils of facing Beijing.”, August 24, 2003:

9. Jeff Yang, “The AZend.”, January 29, 2008: 8/01/29/apop.DTL.

10. eMarketer, using historical data from the International Telecommunication Union as a baseline:

11. Jeffrey S. Passel, “Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization,” Pew Hispanic Center, March 28, 2007.

12. While the percentage of Mexicans choosing to become citizens is growing, it still lags behind other groups.

13. LPN gathers data on Hispanic daily, weekly and less-than-weekly newspapers (some audited and some not) and is the best one-source clearinghouse for the information we can find.

14. “Hispanics to pass blacks in buying power,”Associated Press via, Sept. 1, 2006:

15. Univision press release: “Univision ranked as the #1 network with an +11% advantage over its nearest competitor, Fox, and beating ABC by +43%, CBS by +42%, NBC by +57% and fully +125% ahead of CW for all adults 18-34, not just Hispanics.”

16. John Eggerton, “Univision Republican Debate Outdraws Hispanic Network’s Democratic Forum,” Broadcasting & Cable, December 10, 2007: http://www.broad

17. Though two candidates – Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Chris Dodd – speak fluent Spanish, they were required to respond in English and be translated like the other five participating candidates.

18. Tim Arango, “Presidential Primaries Lift CNN,” New York Times, March 5, 2008