Political Mobilization through the Use of Bilingual Media Resources in Yakima, Washington

Melissa Navarro

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This report measures and evaluates the extent to which radio and print media in the Yakima area communicate news to the Spanish-speaking Latino community. It addresses the following questions: What types of stories are being reported? How do different outlets compare with one another? How are the newsworthy interests and needs of Yakima Latinos being addressed? Are Latinos finding out what they need to know as well as what they want to know?

Methods:

  1. Primary Level – to assess the political atmosphere of Yakima, I met local political activists and found that the local Spanish-language media had a large role in getting Latinos informed city happenings. I conducted 15 personal interviews, nine of which were with local activists and other people that had an idea of Yakima’s political environment. The other six were media personnel (editors, station managers, writers, etc). To examine the use of Spanish-language newspapers in Yakima, I looked at the content of each publication and the frequency of certain story topics and features in the following three Spanish-language newspapers that are circulated throughout the city: El Sol de Yakima, ¡Viva! and Tú Decides.
  2. Secondary Level – I investigated scholarly literature on bilingual communities, efforts in Spanish-language media to inform Latinos of local news, and theories of cultural assimilation and cultural differences.

Findings:
The content analysis revealed the following:

  • Local news is among the least reported issues in the newspapers.
  • Mexican news is among the highest reported.
  • There are fewer stories coming from local, staff reporters and more coming from newswire sources like the Associated Press.

Latinos in Yakima are not being as informed about news and important events on the local level as they should be. They thus are not very likely to get involved in a community that would benefit from their more active participation, unless there are changes in the bilingual media.

Recommendations:

  • More coverage on local issues – this can provide the reader with the knowledge they need, about matters that concern them, to try to make a difference.
  • More stories written by local reporters staffed by the newspaper itself – such reporters have the special ability to address issues that speak to their own community.
  • More balance between U.S. and Mexican news – attracting the interests of readers through stories of cultural appeal can and should be balanced with what is occurring in the Latino reader’s present home of the United States.
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