Latino communities and leaders have been at the forefront of organizing around racial justice for decades, but new research suggests their perspectives and voices are barely visible in the surging public discourse around racial equity and systemic racism. A study conducted by the Berkeley Media Studies Group (a program of the Public Health Institute) in collaboration with UnidosUS, revealed that less than 6% of news about racism and racial equity referenced Latinos, who constitute nearly 20% of all Americans and over 40% of all people of color in the U.S.

The new report, “Elevating Latino Experiences and Voices in News about Racial Equity: Findings and Recommendations for More Complete Coverage” notes that this lack of representation persisted across all regions, even in California, where nearly a quarter of all U.S.-based Latinos live. Additionally, only 14% of articles quoted sources who self-identified as Latino; Latino organizations rarely appeared in coverage; and researchers found no authors who self-identified as Latino, while only about 15% of authors could be identified as Latino using contextual information, like surnames.

“These findings are disappointing but not surprising,” said Pamela Mejia, head of research at BMSG. “We know that Latinos are underrepresented in newsrooms — in fact, only 11% of news analysts, reporters, and journalists are Latino, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. When newsrooms don’t reflect the communities they represent, we expect the coverage to also be incomplete.”

“When Latino experiences, contributions, and concerns are excluded from news coverage, policymakers and the public don’t have the facts needed to craft effective and inclusive solutions,” said Viviana Lopez Green, senior director for UnidosUS’ Racial Equity Initiative. “Too often, our community is ‘out of sight-out of mind.’”

The report also raises concerns about how coverage is framed. Specifically, stories about racial equity issues facing Latinos tended to focus mostly on problems, while journalists discussed solutions in less than 40% of articles.

“When the news focuses only on problems without also exploring solutions, people — including policymakers — have a harder time envisioning next steps,” Mejia said. “Readers need to see the work that organizers and advocates are doing to improve their communities. Those are the kinds of stories that encourage action and instill hope.”

Read the full article about Latino voices at Public Health Institute.