Monday, May 02, 2005

Hmm, so often the number one network for 18-34 is a Spanish Channel?

The Wall Street Journal had an article today entitled "'Big Four' Networks Get Wake-Up Call--in Spanish." It opens by asking which network is frequently number one among the young adult demographic so desirable by advertisers. The answer is actually Univision. While at the moment, the Spanish language network is not a major threat to the other networks, it is certainly gaining on them, and this looks like another example of how the Latino influence is growing in the United States. Then again, if anyone has seen the Census numbers or read books such as Jorge Ramos's La Ola Latina (The Latino Wave), they would know this is just a fact of life. The article states that "according to Nielsen, 19% of the U.S. population aged 18 to 34 describes itself as Hispanic. The young Hispanics flocking to Univision are for the most part bilingual, which means they are tuning in because the programming appeals to them--not just because the actors speak Spanish." I found that little tidbit quite interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that many people tend to think that the only people who watch Spanish television do so because they are not bilingual. Second reason is that 19% is quite a chunk of the population. Very often we hear in the news all sorts of commentary about immigration, a lot of it negative, much of it reflecting the fears of some in this country that the country will be overrun by immigrants. But what they often fail to take into account are the children of those immigrants born here, who due to their birth here, happen to be legal citizens. There are various reports on this topic. One example I was able to find "on the fly" was an article in Society for May/June 1998, vol. 35.4 which reports on the rising birth rates among Hispanic women in the U.S. These children will grow up in this country and likely add their little contribution (or maybe not so little) to the mosaic that is the United States. Many may grow up not learning both languages, but many others will, so down the road, the numbers will grow. It really is a growing wave, and trying to stop it or pretend it won't happen won't make things better. Politicians are already taking note of this. Ramos explores this in his book, which I highly recommend not only to explain Latino politics but also as a nice "primer" to knowing about the different groups of Latinos (yes, we are a varied bunch) and their concerns and issues. Other further readings that may be of interest are a couple of small articles published in Gale's newsletter, one discussing Latino voting patterns on the basis of values and the other on Latinos and Social Security. The links are: On Hispanic Vote On Latinos and Social Security

So, where am I headed with this aside from the fact that the article in WSJ caught my attention? I am not sure, but I do know it will be interesting to watch as demographics continue to change. If only more people would educate themselves instead of letting their fear and ignorance dictate their actions and policies, and if politicians would stop pandering to those fears, maybe we would have a much better place and future. I know, idealistic on my part, but I always had a little streak of that. Besides, I do enjoy joking around with my Anglo American friends that we are going to be taking over some day, and when we do, that I will put a good word in for them. In seriousness, I don't think it will be such a turnaround in my generation, but things will turn around. So why alienate those who will outnumber you someday? I am probably going to piss off some right wing conservative who thinks we should put barbed wire and a wall with machine guns at the borders, but even if that were to happen, the numbers of those already in here would more than make up for it. We already see some of it in the youth choosing to watch a Spanish channel and from the little not so subtle attempts from the other networks to cater to Hispanics. According to the article, it is no accident that the show Desperate Housewives has a couple of Latino leads for instance. Anyhow, just a little food for thought.

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