On an evening its rivals were preoccupied with Christie Brinkley’s divorce and the capture of a Brooklyn murder suspect, New York’s WXTV led its local news with a story about graffiti saying “Get out of the USA” painted near a Peruvian restaurant on Long Island.
The Spanish-speaking Univision affiliate figured it was a more meaningful story for its audience, and those kind of choices are paying off.
Within the past few months, WXTV’s 6 p.m. newscast has eclipsed its English-speaking competitors on ABC, CBS and NBC stations in popularity among viewers younger than 49. Sister station KMEX in Los Angeles had more viewers in June for its newscast than any of its English competitors, regardless of age, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Spanish-speaking news outlets all across the country have grown to become major players in their markets and all trends indicate that growth is only going to continue.
“It talks about how the United States is changing,” said Ray Rodriguez, president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications Inc., the stations’ parent company. “It’s a bigger story than just television.”
In the New York market, for example, there were 2.7 million Hispanics in 1990 and 4.3 million this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
General news isn’t excluded; it’s just that the mix is different. English-language stations covered it heavily when the aircraft carrier Intrepid got stuck in the mud, while WXTV mentioned it briefly in the program’s third segment.
About 100 story tips a day come into her newsroom, said Norma Morato, WXTV’s news director.
Morato, who worked for CBS’ local news before joining WXTV, noticed that many public officials have added Spanish speakers in their press offices.
“They’ll see us coming in and have a press conference in English, then say, ‘We’ll take care of you when we’re done,’“ she said.
KMEX calls its effort “a su lado”—by your side—and once aired a program to tell viewers facing home foreclosure what they could do.
“We do things outside the realm of news, but it gives an image to the viewers that we care,” Pineda said.