American Sociological Association

Numbers, Narratives, and Nation: Mainstream News Coverage of U.S. Latino Population Growth, 1990–2010

Ideologies that support racial domination and White supremacy remain foundational in U.S. society, even as the nation becomes increasingly diverse and progressively focused on quantitative measurement. This study explores how a prominent mainstream news outlet represents the growth of the nation’s second largest population, Latinos, within this changing demographic and numeric environment. Drawing from two frameworks, the Latino Threat Narrative and Color-Blind Racism, quantitative and qualitative analyses are conducted with 174 Los Angeles Times (LAT) articles about 2000 and 2010 census results. Reporters for the LAT, located in the single most important U.S. location for Latinos, frame Latinos and their population dynamics in line with the overtly racist narrative of Latino threat and the covertly racist ideology of color-blind racism. Moreover, the analyses reveal that quantitative logics circulating in the present evaluative climate further the view that Latinos pose cultural-demographic threats to the nation. Quantification also enhances color-blind frames and rhetorical strategies justifying present-day racial stratification and the subordinate locations of non-White groups. This suggests how White supremacy retains its power as the populations and metrics of evaluation change. Finally, given recent research linking demographic trends and media representations with attitudes, policy positions, and political partisanship, these representations have implications for the well-being of Latinos, other populations, and the nation.

Authors

Eileen Díaz McConnell

Volume

5

Issue

4

Starting Page

500

Ending Page

517