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United States

A new Latino frontier: Univision launches news in English

As more Latinos in the United States become proficient in English, Univision seeks to broaden its reach
Univision News Logo
23 Jun 2016 – 10:19 AM EDT
The Univision newsport in Doral, Miami with Univision News logo Crédito: David Maris/Univision

Have you heard David Beckham speaking Spanish? His accent isn’t so bad. After all he spent part of his career at Real Madrid.

Lately he’s been making Spanish-speaking appearances in ads for mobile phone company, Sprint, as part of Univision’s Copa America soccer coverage. More curiously perhaps, Beckham also speaks English in those ads as a text message lights up phones saying "Game on."

Ford is also using English in its Spanish media ads for its F-150.

So, what are Sprint and Ford up to? Did they mess up in the editing process? Far from it.

Welcome to the new bilingual United States. Sprint and Ford are simply tapping into the generations of emerging Latinos in this country who are growing more proficient in English.

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These acculturated Hispanics are making those of us in the media rethink our content. Last year Univision began beefing up its digital news operation and has since built a strong and diverse team covering all the traditional beats, from election politics to, health, education, immigration, sports and music.

Today we are adding a new element, Univision News, catering to an under-served audience of English-dominant Latinos who are steadily increasing in number. We also realize that our Spanish-language news has far broader value if we can deliver it in English to the mainstream, non-Latino majority in this country. Univision prides itself on the quality of its journalism, and while we admire our English language media colleagues we also strive to be seen as equals.

While some mainstream English media earnestly strive for balance, too often the concerns of Hispanic America are passed over. Witness the Orlando massacre, which for some media was just another mass shooting, albeit the worst in modern U.S. history. For Orlando’s Hispanic LGBT community it was much more than that. At Univision this was almost instantly apparent. It was our community that was attacked - and we became their voice.

Every community needs that, especially in today’s fractured media landscape.

“Born in the USA”

Since its launch in 1962 Univision has become a trusted brand in Spanish language news with the largest Latino audience in the United States. That audience has spawned a new generation of “born in the USA” Latinos who may speak or understand Spanish, but consume part of their news in English.

Contrary to what some politicians claim, immigration from Latin America has slowed and the Latino population is becoming increasingly U.S.-born - about 36 million out of about 55 million. As a result, a majority of Hispanics – 62 percent - mainly speak English or are bilingual, according to the Pew Research Center.

And this community is still growing: there will be some 125 million Hispanics in the U.S. by 2055. By that time, minorities will become the majority in the U.S., with Hispanics leading the way.

Many older Latinos also lack Spanish fluency due to facing social and political pressures when they were growing up, dating back to the 1943 “Zoot Suit” riots in Los Angeles when Mexican immigrant teens were hunted down by newly-drafted U.S. servicemen.

It’s not hard to find adult Hispanics who are not comfortable speaking Spanish, such as Housing Secretary and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, the grandson of a Mexican immigrant.

"When I was growing up, speaking Spanish was something that people didn't do. People were trying to run away from all those things that were Mexican,” says Mark Hugo Lopez at the Pew Research Center.

Bilingual nation?

There’s little questioning of the value of bilingualism in today’s job market, as we highlight in one of our inaugural articles published today: “Will Hispanic bilingualism survive in the United States?”

Despite the increasing use of English, this has not dented the importance of Spanish among Hispanics. Nearly all U.S. Latinos say they value the ability to speak Spanish, with 95 percent saying it is important to them that future generations of U.S. Latinos speak the language, another Pew Center report found.

"Today there are English-speaking Hispanics who don't speak Spanish but are aware of their Hispanic background and identity and want to preserve that," says Lopez.

During this election year, we're providing coverage of Latino voters, and electoral issues that impact the Hispanic community. We will also follow events in Latin America, especially Mexico. We recognize that second and third generation immigrants are less likely to remain in touch with the country of their parents and grandparents as they develop stronger ties to the United States and their local communities. But the fate of Latin America is a matter that concerns us all in this hemisphere, for a whole host of reasons from trade to immigration to cultural and historical ties.

For example, this weekend, at the crossroads of the Americas, we will be reporting on the historic expansion of the Panama Canal, an event with major implications for global commerce.

To achieve this goal Univision News will leverage the content of our fast-growing Spanish-language digital platform, as well as highlight the exclusive reporting of our Spanish language network television and radio partners at dozens of affiliates around the country, as well as the investigative unit at Univision Investiga. We will also participate in special data-driven projects such as the recent Panama Papers leak, a collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Today we are also publishing a data driven investigation into the legal protections for passengers in the U.S. cruise ship industry, in a collaboration with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Univision News will also coordinate English-language content with our partners at Fusion, who have successfully carved out a millennial news market since launching three years ago.

We look forward from hearing your feedback on stories, as well as via social media.

Facebook: Univision News

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